Project%uFFFDs pink carpet area. The show is divided by sections with pink being women%uFFFDs, red for street and men%uFFFDs, and white for an area called The Area for new brand debuts.

Photos by Tom Wallace
Story by Kathleen Gasperini

Project Fashion Trade Show at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas from February 18-20 brought out a bit of sparkle and glamour in a setting that reminded us of the excitement and inspiration that can be found in fashion and footwear, especially in a beautiful setting with an excellent mix of music. While everyone had recession on their minds, the edited show, which was smaller, still kept buyers and brands busy as orders were being written from the strong brands that were still showing.

Project, which many compare to a smaller Bread & Butter, showcases some of the top denim brands in the business, including Nudie Jeans, AG Adriano Goldschmied, 7 for All Mankind, True Religion, Earnest Sewn, Chip and Pepper, Loomstate, We the People, Marithe and Francois Girbaud, Diesel, G-Star, Raven, Rock & Republic, PRPS, Evisu, Howe, among others, plus top-end street fashion apparel brands ranging from WESC to Edun to the women’s street contemporary brand Hellz Bellz, plus Kitson, Insight, Stussy Deluxe, 3Sixteen, Modern Amusement, Civil Smith, Quiksilver Women’s, and Gentle Fawn. It’s also become the show for core footwear brands crossing over from perhaps skateboarding roots or workwear, but moving more fashion-forward in urban styles such as Alife, Generic Surplus, PF Flyers, Gola Classics, Reebok, Converse by John Varvatos, Tom’s Shoes, New Balance, Pro-Keds, Creative Recreation, DC, K-Swiss, plus authentic Americana brands as they continues to make a push into fashion based on the growing demand for such brands, including Redwing, Timberland, Woolrich, Original Penguin, Frye, LaCoste, and the timely revival of Dr. Martens.

AG Adriano Goldschmied among top denim brands doing distressed looks, even in colored denim with dark fold stains.

Overall, many people thought that key aspects were price points and paying attention to what’s going to work. As Dre Hayes from The Foundation noted in our Label Networks TV interview, “Price points now mean you have to be right on. People are not going to pay the prices they used to so you have to be attuned to the market even more so in this economy.” Others stated that the premium denim market, which had taken a huge hit and was apparent as many brands were no longer showing at Project, had re-adjusted their strategies towards quality product but more affordable prices.

Trends in denim appeared to be moving towards a more distressed look with additional washes, patches, and layered pieces. There was also a move towards adding grease or darker stains in folds. It could mark a reflection of the times, but there’s a part of us that thinks looking distressed and beat-up, while it may match the mood, may put off people who don’t want to wear how they feel. Darker denim is still on hand as seen from Nudie Jeans and a range from WESC, but the real push in silhouettes are coming from the women’s denim scene with boyfriend denim shorts and boyfriend jeans with a wider style as seen with Hellz Bellz

Hellz Bellz denim boyfriend shorts for street-savvy girls.

Other trends include the strong usage of plaids and flannels, as seen at the other shows, plus Navajo prints, quilted fabrics in jackets and bags, and in some cases, a very ’80’s style with oversized, off-the-shoulder T-shirts, wider necklines, plus bright colors in smaller splashes such as turquoise, purple, red, yellow, green, and pink.

This year’s Project brought on some other notable differences with the growing showcase of sunglass brands, including Mosley Tribes, Super, Initium, and others. Watches are also on the comeback big-time such as G-Shock and Timex. The only industrial design brand on the floor was Incase, the Apple-centric bag and iPhone accessory brand that had a constant flow of traffic throughout the show.

In this story, we’re offering up a photo essay of Project with longer captions to provide a visual of what went down. Stay tuned also for more in-depth interviews on leading-edge brands, and a round-up of top trade show attendee styles.

Project%uFFFDs ambiance at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center keeps the excitement of the trade show flowing with unique elements in various places.

Converse by John Varvatos was a big hit with people checking out these hightop sneaker boots.

C%uFFFDN%uFFFDC%uFFFD Costume National was on hand with some new sporty styles.

Creative Recreation was kickin%uFFFD it with some crossover sneaker-boots. These are one of their hottest styles with the mixed materials, leather and patent leather and cross strap on top.

Josh Willis from Creative Recreation. Their new catalogue was shot in Paris and it%uFFFDs unbelievable. A keepsake. Other footwear highlights from Creative were the silver metallic hightops in a quilted sort of motif and somewhat distressed.

Kiston was packed as the trendy boutique off Roberston in Los Angeles and licensee of the retailer has taken off. Many aspects include %uFFFD80%uFFFDs references in shorter T-shirts and off-the-shoulder in hot colors.

Kylie from Miss Wax with her collection of jewelry including knucklebusters, earrings, and necklaces. They also did a bundle earring collaboration with Hellz Bellz. (Full feature story coming soon.)

Greger Hagelin from WESC showcased his knits, plaids, and excellent denim collection. This Fall%uFFFDs collection may be their best yet as proof also by the high traffic of buyers at the booth. You can see more from their collection with our story from ASR as well.

Plaid coats, wool, knits among the top items from WESC%uFFFDs Fall collection for 09.

Dre Hayes from The Foundation out of New York models a pair of Mosley Tribes sunglasses. These are the hot new shades. Full Label Networks TV interview with Dre on the state of street fashion coming soon!

Heh heh heh…these are the super-dope flip-up shades from Mosley Tribes new collection.

Rossignol debuted their collaboration with JC de Castelbajac at Project including these Lego-inspired outerwear jackets. More pics and full story to come.

Nudie Jeans booth had a nice set-up to showcase their denim and a stage-type format for buyers and press as they walked through their collection. They are continuing with darker indigo but also some more distressed and faded washes for Fall 09.

Earnest Sewn was another top denim brand on hand. Their booth mirrored the trends of authentic Anericana or workwear as fashion that%uFFFDs becoming a strong movement in denim and footwear.

The high-end footwear brand Generic Surplus now offers volcanized sneakers in very scaled-back designs and hitting a reasonable price-point. This brand%uFFFDs new collection at an affordable price was big news on the show floor for sneaker buyers.

Watches are back. G-Shock is a sure bet in any store. Their new models and colors had people stopping all day long.

Hellz Bellz new collection is among the best we%uFFFDve seen. Here%uFFFDs one of their Fall 09 plaid tops with a fenimine touch with the collar, and their boyfriend jeans. Fill story with pics coming soon.

Another Hellz Bellz stand-out with the mixed and matched materials, wide waistband, and polka-dot top. Designed by Lanie Alabanza-Barcena.

Keep shoes now are making models for men too. The former women%uFFFDs eco-friendly sneaker line has expanded options and designs which were a big hit at Project.

Reebok%uFFFDs Artist Series not only included interesting limited-editions, but also fresh styles in the high-high top and roll-down styles.

Distressed denim was everywhere. I believe this is True Religion. Looks similar to AG unfortunately, but both brands are doing this style.

Super sunglasses are still killing it on the market right now with their square %uFFFD80%uFFFDs RayBan styles and bright neon colors. However they are offering up new motifs such as white, side leather pieces, and styles. Full story and pics coming soon.

Project%uFFFDs glitter “P” from disco balls for the VIP room