Rocksmith Wu Tang offered up bright camo.

Story and Photos by Kathleen Gasperini and Tom Wallace

From August 20-24, 2012, Las Vegas, NV becomes the hotbed for fashion industry players as thousands of fashionistas, buyers, retailers, and media gather from every genre of fashion, footwear, and accessories within the global landscape. Despite the lingering economic global hardship, it was clear that orders were being written and business was taking place, especially within new niches of growing fashion genres around specific styles.

MAGIC at the Mandalay Bay which hosts Street, and S.L.A.T.E., showcased brands moving into the next wave of Americana which includes splashes of bright colors mixed with camo patterns and red, white, and blue palettes. From core urban streetwear brands such as Rocksmith Wu Tang and their bright camo, to heritage muted tones of sun-drenched retro California vibes from a variety of sportswear brands, it crossed a range of variations on what’s next for Spring Summer, and Fall 2013.

Americans, stars and stripes are still going strong, but with a new take on the trend.

What’s interesting is how streetwear and action sports continue to blend, which could be seen mostly through the aisles of S.L.A.T.E. with brands ranging from Neff to Akomplice, Mishka to Mighty Healthy. Noticeably missing however were core brands such as The Hundreds, Crooks & Castles, and Obey. As many people at the show expressed, MAGIC is late on the calendar and many such brands already had their orders from Agenda which took place almost 3 weeks previously in Long Beach, CA.

In addition, many skate brands were not showing either and the entire Maloof Money cup skateboarding competition was gone. In its place were new streetwear/skate crossover brands like Lil Wayne’s Trukfit which debuted to huge fanfare at the show. That’s not to say there isn’t a great deal of activity within Magic/S.L.A.T.E. For one thing there was the fantastic Project/reed Installation which represented every coveted collaboration imaginable from brands stretching from Billionaire Boys Club to InCase, The Hundreds, Diamond Supply Co., and the highly regarded crossover collab with Levi Strauss and Nike and their skater denim. (More coming soon on the Project/reed Installation by designer Jeff Staple.)

Project/reed Installation featured key collaborations with streetwear brands and accessories including Diamond Supply Co.

S.L.A.T.E. also featured a unique daily fixed gear bike sweepstakes and had the fixies on display which attracted a significant amount of attention and taps into the ongoing urban trends within cycling, from designer style cruising apparel to fixie DJ culture inspired apparel and footwear. As more young people also seek out alternative forms of transportation, this scene has become increasingly important and S.L.A.T.E., ever at the forefront, recognized this with the daily showcase.

Project seems cozier with S.L.A.T.E. these days as indicated with hosting Project 10, which features 10 new “essential” street and upper urbanwear brands, located right in the hot intersection of S.L.A.T.E. This area is always a good location to catch core new trends and up-and-coming brands which included DTNN, Dope Gold Label, Jason Markk, The Vintage Frames Co., F As In Frank, Mookee By Yuske, Vitaly Design. (Project and S.L.A.T.E. also collaborated on their show parties which took place at the Cosmopolitan on Tuesday.)

Neon Native American patterns in caps featured among new brands in Project 10.

Project remains a fashion trade show that many brands still seek to exhibit in for many reasons. Its layout features various themed areas and it attracts a variety of denim brands, including Mavi jeans, Levi’s, G-Star, and of course, Nudie and their ReCycle, ReUse, ReDuce program onsite. Project also has special areas such as Project Love, a curated area hosting 7 fashion brands that successfully integrate philanthropy into their business model. This year, featured brands included Feed, This Shirt Helps, Krochet Kids, Falling Whistles, GN Therapy, Pura Vida Bracelets, and Della LA.

Within the Project Academy is a series of seminars on latest trends in fashion, including online retail, latest in American icons in fashion, and our own presentation by Label Networks, “Action Sports and Streetwear Crossover: How Youth Culture’s Latest Lifestyle Influences Are Creating A New Platform for Both Industries.” Gratefully, our presentation was again achieved a capacity audience of more than 300 people, and was well received with a long Q&A of curious industry players wanting to learn more. Stay tuned for more highlights from our presentation.

Project Love features 7 philanthropically motivated fashion labels.

In Project, it was apparent that the trends are a mixture of movements, running from Puma’s rave-like neons to heritage brands continuing to produce high-quality denim, more faded washes than previously, and a nod to craftsmanship and anti-fast-fashion. This is where you’ll see the bloggers like The Sartorialist checking out the scene, or denim connoisseurs who usually attend this show and Bread and Butter Berlin.

What’s nice about the shows over at the Mandalay Bay is that they are all right next to each other. One can easily go from show to show, including a small, highly respected off-shoot called Workroom. It’s here where you’ll see the high-end version of Dickies, or brands like Belle N. Matisse women’s collection which has a strong style in lasting colors from black, white, and grey. Other key brands in Workroom that have become must-sees including Under Two Flags which captures the spirit of the USA X Britain and often showcases the crossover of camo and prep. SkinGraft is another to note as it takes inspiration from soft black leather pieces and represents a rock and roll vibe mixed with retro Western horseman aesthetics.

Belle N. Matisse in Workroom.

Like Project, Workroom features men’s and women’s styles within the same areas, which definitely feed off each other, especially for today’s post-gender generation. With the WWD show at Las Vegas Convention Center, the divide is too great for many to even bother going over there. One missing feature of Street and S.L.A.T.E. are the women’s collections that cross the streetwear, sportswear, and music-inspired lines which could benefit from being in the nearby area. For example, while Lucky 13 is in Street, Tripp NYC is no longer in the area. And ironically, brands like Lip Service are over in Pool (more on Pool coming soon).

Tom's shoes are introducing sunglasses. Proceeds go to eye exams for those in need.

Finally, Sourcing this year was a high-point as key themes extended to Made in the USA, local manufacturing, new trends in sustainability, and a variety of presentations.

Overall, the shows offered a snapshot of what’s to come, which includes the combination of fast-fashion bright trends that tend to attract younger demographics, combined with an ongoing nostalgic nod for the Americana and heritage. The blending of the opposites is the new platform that’s generating the greatest amount of friction and fresh energy in fashion.

Stay tuned for more from the shows, including reviews on Pool, which continues to surprise in fun and interesting ways, and Capsule with their unique brands from Europe, various surf brands that have jumped into the scene, and fresh areas such as Above Treeline featuring the latest in fashionable camping and survival accessories for the fashion player interested in the new-school model of preparedness.

Palladium boots are part of the urban explorer movement in footwear.
Fox Racing produces a exceptional swimwear collection.
Nudie Jeans had their Reduce, ReUse, Recycle campaign going on live in their booth with their craftsman on hand to repair people's Nudie's denim.
Pastels for 2013 with hints of prep and skinny denim styles.
Project's opening is always a unique show-stopper.
Workroom is a place to find boutique favorites.
Mavi jeans brings colored denim to the forefront.
InCase collaborations with the Project/reed installation showcase latest trends with letters, patches, and bags.

 Stay tuned for more images from the shows posting soon!