Photos by Tom Wallace.
Once considered the bastion child of Magic trade shows, Pool Trade Show which took place at the Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas August 20-23, 2012 still keeps its cool mainly because of the eclectic mix of brands that are represented. Despite being right next to the behemoth of Street, S.L.A.T.E., and growing niche area of Workroom, Pool truly is a separate show.
Inside Pool this year were many of its usual independent brands and corresponding independent boutique buyers roaming the halls. But this is also the place where you’ll see a buyer from Urban Outfitters checking out the latest to discover a new brand, accessory, and style. It’s the show for the intersection of art, design and commerce as indicated with a variety of leading-edge graphic T-shirt brands, ranging from rock ‘n roll inspired Love Nail Tree, statement graphic T-shirts from Free Gold Watch, to the latest from American Apparel.
After going through the very male-centric Street and S.L.A.T.E. areas of Magic at the Mandalay, Pool is also a nice balance because there are a great deal of women’s brands—but most with an edge. This is not your average contemporary seen at the LVCC, and rarely would an exhibitor here call their collection “Junior’s,” the antiquated fashion categorization for youth-oriented women’s designs. Instead, you’ll find Goth brand Lip Service servicing up both the latest in guys and ladies with edgy, music-inspired apparel, retro brands bringing back craftivism in designs ranging from tops and dresses, to utilizing new shiny fabrics in pants and jackets, and brands with mod-retro styles such as Kenley Collins collection and corresponding lipstick collaboration.
There are also some of the best discoveries in jewelry to be found here. One such brand is Chime: handcrafted jewelry from recycled drum cymbals. Leslie Barrett the designer explained how she was trying to fix her boyfriend’s cracked chime and cut out the piece that was broken and decided to make it into a necklace and the rest was history.
EcoGirl is another interesting story behind a brand with their vintage handbags made from old blankets, i.e. Pendelton’s and Hudson Bay Company, among others. Paired with old recycled leather belts, designer Jennifer Jory creates a variety of bags in styles that are trending fast as a crossover of sustainability, Americana, utilizing heritage brands and heavy, woolen materials.
The Cash & Carry area allows buyers to purchase on the spot, and has grown to be a huge part of the show. In this area is every type of jewelry imaginable, but also creative pieces from Lomography, plus wallets, bags, belts, and hairpieces that are sure to be found in festival fashion next summer.
Overall, Pool has maintained a unique identity that attracts a new sort of leading-edge buyer and fashion industry experts interested in discovery from music-inspired, retro-futuristic, to eco-friendly.