SkinGraftDesign guys take a break at Pool for a game of Guitar Hero

Story by Kathleen Gasperini
Photos by Tom Wallace

The Pool Fashion Trade Show always offers an inspiring mix of brands and therefore boutique buyers because most brands come from an artistic, entrepreneurial sort of background that gives real meaning to the show philosophy of “Fashion Freedom Worldwide.” Interestingly, in a down economy, it was this show that seemed to be the most upbeat. Most of this of course, has to do with the people themselves, but also the show format, which from February 17-19 at the Las Vegas Convention Center’s Central Hall, included several new ideas and concepts.

First off, the traffic was excellent all 3 days, which many contributed to the fact that S.L.A.T.E. and Street were located right next to it and this time, there were no walls separating the shows. The other aspects include a different sort of vibe, lighting, music, carpeting, and booth set-up with wider halls and lots of space to network. There were no closed-off booths like in other parts of MAGIC and Pool, as usual, offered up fun things for exhibitors and buyers to do, like Guitar Hero, ping-pong, and an extremely popular new area called Crafty Cash and Carry Goods. This section located in the back was packed all day with buyers spending directly on smaller items, accessories, jewelry, for a quick purchase for their stores without waiting for order fulfillments.

Crafty Cash & Carry Goods area at Pool was packed all day throughout the show

According to Pool’s public relations manager Anita Herrera, “We were aware that it’s a different environment out there for our designers that show at Pool and retailers who come to the show. We wanted to address the issues of the economy, open the door, and give them what they want.” This included easier access to the Pool hall (no more golf cart shuttles necessary), open walls, and the “immediate goods” area for cash & carry.

The other huge initiative that went over very well, was that Pool successfully tapped into the indie craft movement. For example, Faythe Levine, the legendary author of the book Handmade Nation was on site selling her book and showing previews of her new documentary on the subject. Other crafters from the felt world such as Ryn Rina, plus jewelry, scarves, and knitted apparel created an entirely new space at Pool that completely connected not only with the indie vibe of Pool, but the growing movement of crafting in general.

Handmade Nation books, documentary, and author Faythe Levine were on hand along with other crafters

The other aspect was an area called Emerging Concepts that huddled 6 up-and-coming brands including Modern Lovers, S.O.B. Apparel, Serial Cultura, Ornamental Things, Costume Dept., and Figs and Ginger, offering a more cohesive space for such brands to showcase, perhaps for the first time, and make it easier for buyers. Thread was also embedded into the Pool trade show floor with their rolling racks of T-shirts, pants, and jackets. Plus, some brands that used to show at places like United or Street at MAGIC, popped over to Pool this time, such as Free Gold Watch, Grn Apple Tree, and Uzi as a way of differentiating who they are and where they’re headed -indicating usually a more crossover artistic direction than straight-up streetwear. New brands such as 01TheOne watches showcased for the first time to an avid audience interested in the new binary format for telling time that’s already a huge hit in Europe.

01TheOne watch with it%uFFFDs binary time was a big hit

What’s also quite interesting about Pool exhibitors is their loyalty. Brands such as deNada, Gamma-Go, TokiDoki, YakPak, Feral Childe, Dear Creatures, Rojas, Meg Company, Jeffrey Campbell, Kim White, SkinGraftDesigns, and Scolar from Japan, love their show and express this every time we come by. And so do unique boutiques plus other larger stores that are just now catching onto the fact that Pool offers an indie wave of fashion that crosses in-between say, streetwear from S.L.A.T.E., brands from Project, and yet remains certainly different from the WWD women’s show in the North Hall.

“This is where people can see one-of-a-kind pieces,” continued Anita. In a time when spending money means paying more attention to quality and uniqueness, Pool offered a range of brands that fit the bill.

On a final note, the Pool tradeshow guide again outpaced the other shows’ guides for its quality of stories (many from the exhibitors themselves), insider details, street fashion photos, notable store reviews, and contact information for each exhibitor.

Check out the photos below with more captions of what took place during Pool Fashion Trade Show. Stay tuned for more in-depth stories, pictures, and interviews from the show in the next few weeks.

Katie from SkinGraftDesigns is wearing new jodhpurs from the brand. Their Goth-inspired leather apparel, holsters, and jackets also have an American urban cowboy aesthetic. They have a new store opening on 4th Street in downtown Los Angeles this month.

Scolar from Japan is known for making exceptionally trendy apparel for girls/women. Their latest big news includes reversible skirts.

Here%uFFFDs the Scolar skirt from the inside-out. Makes total sense in a recession fashion environment. (Full story with images coming soon.)

The Scolar gals at their colorful booth. Jacket and frock are Scolar designs from the latest collection.

Dear Creatures collection was actually featured on the cover of Apparel News at the launch of the trade show which generated some traffic for designer Bianca Benitez. This collection was inspired by Girl Scouts uniforms. It was a huge hit.

Dear Creatures designer Bianca Benitez

Free Gold Watch created some ironic and funny T-shirt graphics. Known for their screenprinting capabilities, their collection featured a range of interesting topics.

Free Gold Watch crew with their screen-printed posters (which they also do) mock-ad wall behind them. They also featured an infants collection, and a new women%uFFFDs collection that this gal is wearing with really cool styles including off-the-shoulder, along with a collaboration with Nicacelly including dresses made of recycled old T-shirts and deadstock fabrics.

The ambassador of handmade, Faythe Levine with her new book “Handmade Nation.” She was also showing her new documentary as well. With her here, it encouraged other crafters who were skeptical about coming to a trade show to also showcase their work. This area was craftacular and busy the entire time.

We love deNada and thier knitted scarves and neckpieces.

Medusa Make-up for Looks that Kill were among some of the select beauty products on hand in the immediate goods cash & carry area

Medusa%uFFFDs colors are so a part of the nu rave, synth, electronica trends going on right now. They%uFFFDre completely Tecktonik.

Entrance area to Pool Fashion Trade Show featuring freebie Hint Mints for that fresh breath exhilaration.

Live screenprinting of T-shirts at Pool.

Hate Blocker sunglasses courtesy of Free Gold Watch. This pair is their latest 3-D glasses-inspired colorwave. Such is the humor of Goldstein and Matt from Free Gold Watch.