While just 6 months ago, mini-trade shows were a part of the trade show season landscape during MAGIC in Las Vegas with shows such as FoShoFoShow and Unity representing smaller subcultures of the industry, the only independent fashion trade show this time around from February 13-15 was United. Clearly the economy has taken its toll, yet there remains a determined group of brands, buyers, and trade show entrepreneurs who challenge the behemoths of the show industry.
United Fashion Trade Show, which took place at the Alexis Park Hotel across the street from the Hard Rock was a smaller version than their Fall show, all contained in one room with a cool lounge provided by Beauty Bar. But even though it had dropped to about 60 brands, in some ways, the edited version meant a more dedicated crowd. Brands that showed were among the up-and-coming street fashion labels, along with a mix of new brands worthy of checking out, even attracting buyers from Fred Segal and other top-end stores interested in discovering the next new thing. Something about the underdog that tends to bring curious people from the margins of culture, which is what we tapped into with our Label Networks TV interview with cofounder Rama Mayo (to be posted soon).
Southern California brands such as Cardboard Robot, a mainstay for the show with their full collection of T’s, hoodies, pants, and jackets, were present, along with classic brand Z-Boys and their sneakers and shirts, and acrylic jewelry line Miss Wax. Born Unicorn’s women’s collection continued to inspire, as did T-shirts from New York brand Brains on Fire. Other stand-outs included Kill Shop Kill inspired from the emerging DJ culture from hipsters in Brooklyn, as well as Toy Plane -one of our favorites from Japan–with an aesthetic derived from car culture, utilitarian vibe in jackets, button-downs, and workwear pants. Debuts such as David and David proved that yes, creative minds continue to provide fashion inspiration in independent locations, which was also the case with pro skateboarder Jen O’Brien and her sneaker collection debut called Tru 2 Eve. Other notables at United included Heebeegeebee, CTRL from Helsinki, Soy from Seattle, Free Gums, and the silkscreen masters from Free Gold Watch.
Ironically, the smallest show on the Vegas block has gained a large reputation for putting on big parties and taking over downtown. This was the case again with two block parties including musical performances by Eagles of Death Metal and The Editors playing a DJ set the next night.