Welcome to Project. Going deep into heritage trends and Americana, art installations pieces such as farm gear, old sewing machines, and iconic Americana were throughout the trade show floor.

Photos by Tom Wallace and Kathleen Gasperini

The 3 days of different fashion trade shows in Las Vegas August 17-19 brings with it an incredible assortment of brands and fashionistas, and among the leaders, especially in the category of denim, is Project trade show at the Mandalay Bay. The show’s continuing to evolve and it was fairly clear that this time around, it’s still in transition -but so too is the denim lifestyle industry, branding concepts, and buyer demands.

Key trends included the on-going popularity of heritage -meaning brands that usually come from a workwear background such as Levi Strauss, Lee, Wrangler, or boot companies such as Palladium, or sneaker companies such as Keds or Converse, that started from a utilitarian need or traditional sport, and transformed into iconic, Americana classics. Looks and styles with faded washes, strategic re-patched rips, and silhouettes ranged from ’50’s rockabilly, to a more modern version of grunge. And the influences of rock ‘n roll were prevalent everywhere.

The Nudie jeans denim pillar. One of the most popular destinations at the show. Moving from darker colors to more fades–and strategic tobacco chew container backpockets.

From Nudie jeans’ enormous pillar of denim to newcomer prep-inspired Caulfield and Preparatory (created by a designer named “F. N. Sinclair” -an ideal J.D. Salinger-like name) and their Gatsby/safari themed booths, there was also a lot of style elements with displays that add to Project’s inspiring show floor. Gone was Project’s disco ball “P” and red, pink, and white carpets, but instead they brought out vintage sewing machines, farm equipment, and various aquatic art installations. It was also apparent that exhibitors on hand tended to step up their displays, either with a mix of prep/heritage American themes, to the use of more models where stylists could display complete looks, such as presented by G-Star Raw.

One of the favorite new areas within Project was the Project 10 section. 10 chosen brands were featured on a raised black wooden platform, representing a vast mix of up-and-comers or brands that simply do things a little differently such as Idol Radec, Falling Whistles (who have a strong humanitarian component), Klaxon Howl, and The Brooklyn Circus -one of the most buzzing brands for boutiques and media with their “casual Friday’s” upper urban street and contemporary collection and accessories.

Ouigi Theodore from The Brooklyn Circus, a featured brand in Project 10. His style and concepts are unique, with their 100-year plan, beautiful coffee table book, upscale varsity jackets and a mix of prep with upper urbanwear and contemporay streetwear. Their positive philosophy on life, amazing store and location, art projects, even sponsored urban inliners, add to their mystique and cool factor. But when you come down to it, they have an excellent collection. Check-out our interview from their store location on Label Networks TV: www.youtube.com/labelnetworks.

New surprises included seeing The Foundation out of New York City creating an entire row of spaces dedicated to their brands, such as the popular G-Shock booth, another new watch brand called O’Clock, plus Native shoes, Urbanears, and the popular European sunglasses brand Super.

WESC also debuted their first collection of skate-inspired sneakers, including classic WESC-esque colors, and a collaboration with the street artist Stash. While some brands obviously do not fall into the “heritage” category, the good thing was that many (such as WESC), Kill City, Colorfast, Alternative, L.A.M.B., Cheap Monday and others showcased progressive styles from the other side of the spectrum in a more youthful approach including bright colors, drop-crotch skinny leg styles, and more punk, almost emo aesthetics. Interestingly, Lacoste’s new campaign, which is clearly a heritage brand, has recreated themselves even outside of that category with Lacoste L!VE including angled patterns, bright colors, and a younger, more brightly colored prep palette.

LACOSTE L!VE features a younger aesthetic, prep, angled grapics, bright colors.

Beach lifestyle brands such as Aviator Nation with colorful ’70’s stripes, washed hoodies, T’s, and caps, while not heritage, are among the new crops of brands that take inspirational cues from bygone eras. Here’s where you start to get into the concept of “new heritage.” Many looks at Project indicate that new heritage and a love of things retro-inspired (“retrosexuals”), is on a major roll, especially 50’s style denim, grease-stained denim, faded washes, tighter denim jackets, overalls, and old-school chinos, chambery shirts, and upscale plaids.

Overall, Project’s new theme of “cultivating dreams” was achieved in many ways -both from a retro perspective of heritage trends and Americana lifestyles from workwear to rock ‘n roll, to the evolution and newness that now coincides along with established. Such brands often take inspirational cues from a mix of eras to create collections that now have a clearly defined fashion genre for 2011.

Paige Mycoskie founder and designer of the up-and-coming beach-inspired brand from Venice called Aviator Nation. Her collection for both genders inspires a 70%uFFFDs vibe and fun aesthetic.

Cult of Individuality showcases Americana with strategic holes, visuals, white denim, and vests–totally on trend.

G-Star Raw is a key brand at Project. In their various displays they feature a grunge type of style with overalls and workwear, but also chic vests and a rocker sensibility as seen below.

Themes catching on here are the return of the old denim jacket in a more faded wash, paired with white denim pieces for women.

J. Lindeberg tends to cross many subcultures and is very unique. Mixes of contemporay, high-design, prep, urban fixie bike, and a bespoke-attitude.

Kill City rocks as usual. They also designed exlcusive jeans for skater, snowboarder pro Shaun White, which he wore on the cover of Rolling Stone. This brand represents a more youthful version of denim at favorable price points.

More from Kill City includes lots of new colors, tapping into a punk, almost emo-punk vibe featuring many different sillhouettes including skinny denim. Purple hues were key throughout this show, from denim to cardigans.

Palladium boots have reinvented the summer boot here. Think of it as the new Converse of boots. This will be a hot item for next summer%uFFFDs music festival tours. We anticipate first fashionistas sporting them at Coachellla in April, 2011. Check out our story on Palladium%uFFFDs exploration campaign.

Puma%uFFFDs classic sports jackets are a part of the heritage trend.

WESC debuted their new footwear line here, including this collaboration with the street artist Stash and his signature electric blue.

Also from WESC is their popular denim and chinos, plus their chambray shirt.

Cheap Monday, another great brand from Sweden and we don%uFFFDt know why so many excellent brands are from there, especially when it comes to denim, but here you go. More youthful and often colorful and less expensive. They are becoming more popular on the youth culture radar in North America.

Colorfest celebrates the emo-punk side of T-shirt designs, first layer pieces, and importance of bright dyes in a youthful world.

Gwen Stefani%uFFFDs fashion label, L.A.M.B. is now a staple at Project. The rocker influences and recent color schemes of adding more black and white are interesting.

Members Only is back!

O%uFFFDClock, a new brand that debuted at Project, features a price point and bright colors, not to mention the wild bracelet trends going on in youth culture today. This watch could make the leap to leader in youth markets by next summer.

The Same Guy T-shirts are gaining ground. Here they are tapping into the Americana themes, and American Apparel%uFFFDs style, but also, the man behind the brand is Christian from Ed Hardy. Heads-up, people.

Super sunglasses with their 80%uFFFDs Ray-Ban looks continue their track towards major popularity.

3 distinct looks, all from one brand.

Alternative captures a growing marketshare in many ways. People interested in eco-friendly, simple, comfortable, fashionable basics. This display captures much of their essence.

At first we thought that Diesel%uFFFDs Be Stupid campaign was stupid. Perhaps even on par with McDonald%uFFFDs I%uFFFDm Lovin%uFFFD It. Only now, some of their ad creatives have been funny and unique and gets you thinking outside of the fashion box, like many other campaigns before this controversial one.

Buffalo jeans…so sexy, so sort of Euro. The cardigan and white shirt are on target.

Everyone wants to know what the people at Project look like–the exhibtors and attendees. They are beautiful. Like Bread and Butter, and not counting models, people from denim lifestyle tend to be great-looking people with a major sense of style, obviously.

Nautical themes and sea creatures throughout the show floor or hanging from the cieling were a unique mix to the other Project art installations. And for those who come from youth culture industries, you%uFFFDll recognize that octopus%uFFFD in general are the trending new creature in accessories and T-shirt graphics.