Emeka from 10 Deep, one of the leading streetwear brands in the industry–stay tuned for an in-depth interview on Label Networks TV with Emeka coming soon

Photos by Tom Wallace
Story by Kathleen Gasperini and Ryley Bane

The New Order of fashion was clearly underway during the Spring show at MAGIC in Las Vegas February 17-19, as what is often regarded as the largest fashion trade show in the world, turned out to be smaller than ever. One of the most dramatic indications was the dark South Hall, no longer needed, and the lack of massive fashion ad banners on the outside of the Las Vegas Convention Center. They say it was down 30% in exhibitors, but it looked more like 40%, seriously. The area Label Networks focuses on, youth, street, urban, contemporary, punk, was all moved into the Central Hall and basically lined-up in back-to-back shows whereby you could walk from Premium Men’s into the S.L.A.T.E. area for upper-end streetwear, then Street, right through Goth, punk, and mixed martial arts-inspired sections, into Pool -the show for independent and artistic designers (show review to come later this week).

As Keith Hufnagel from Huf put it in the trade show daily from Antenna, “Quality, price points, shipping on time are every bit as valuable as great design or hype.” While the show was clearly smaller, there was the common feeling that only those doing real business were around, which in many ways, was a good thing because the hyper-factor had dropped significantly. Peacocking fashionistas moved to the border of Street and S.L.A.T.E., but only after 4 p.m. when most work was done, while many of the street fashion designs in general kept to what designers hope will work for a longer time period with muted colors, grey, black, red, and only bits of neon brights in smaller splashes.

General trends in many new collections included more tailored silhouettes, more button-downs, flannel, and some Native American motifs in prints, as seen for example with Hellz Bellz collection (stay tuned for more from Project). Accessories were also big, especially scarves on guys and hats ranging from fedoras to knitted caps.

“People are buying based on the quality, the brand, and what may work for them for a longer period of time,” commented Emeka from 10 Deep, one of the kingpin brands of the entire street genre in a Label Networks TV interview. “We have to focus on what’s going to work but work for longer. Some accounts are simply not there any longer and while some of us will survive, like 10 Deep which tends to open the door for others, we’re all feeling the differences.” Flannels but with tailored cuts, button-downs, attention to incredible details, smaller logos tucked into coveted locations, and an edited mix of options, including 10 Deep denim rounded out their Fall collection. Colors from red and black, deep purple, blue, and bits of brighter colors like yellow and green but in limited pieces, made 10 Deep seem different and quite serious, and in some ways, recession-proof.

The Central Hall at MAGIC. Look back and you can see the Slate and Pool signs.

However, while the show was more condensed, it also meant that people could cover the show faster and more smoothly. It may have also been the reason why at least on the first day, it seemed busy. There were some buyers who never venture to the street sections who popped over from the WWD show in the North Hall, and Premium section in men’s simply because it was a shorter walk. In terms of traffic, it was especially strong in the S.L.A.T.E. area which hosted top brands such as Mishka, Livity Outernational, Crooks & Castles, Osiris, Cassette, In4mation, Rebel 8, Rocksmith/Kilo, Adidas Originals, Von Zipper, Ambiguous, Jedidiah, Akomplice, Stussy, PF Flyers, Freshjive, Hot Air, Married to the Mob, Cardboard Robot, LRG, Sneaktips, Ezekiel Clothing, Live Mechanics, Be Priv, Artful Dodger, and New Era, among others.

Mishka from Brooklyn still rocking it at S.L.A.T.E.

As Dre Hayes from The Foundation put it, “Those doing better tend to come from the footwear category because it can get through the highs and lows, whereas apparel feels the effects of the economy far more drastically.” Footwear was definitely one of the key elements of S.L.A.T.E. but it was paired back significantly. Big brands like Converse, Nike, and Vans had pulled out a few shows previous, but it was the more boutique-oriented and those on the rise that did show, ranging from PF Flyers to Adidas Originals, Osiris, and Element.

Punk brands, which are always a staple of youth culture fashion, including Emily Strange and Tripp NYC, maintained their status of packed booths with buyers, but unfortunately, the section was squeezed in-between the growing mixed martial arts section with brands like Tap Out, and the Street section with urban brands such as Artful Dodger. On the periphery, near the S.L.A.T.E. DJ station was where the fashion peacocking got underway. One of the biggest changes was that bling has now turned from necklaces to back pockets on denim, or front-side crystals in the styles of animal motifs. Layering with scarves was very important, as well as turned down super-high hightops in a cross between wrestling sneaks and skate sneaks. Boyfriend jeans styles on women with tights and sneaks took center stage in denim, whereby the coolest hoodies on hand such as Grenade’s new streetwear collection included silk linings in bright colors.

Osiris Shoes use diverse fabrics plus new colors and high-top styles keep them fresh

Since the walls, literally, had been removed between shows, the aspect that most differentiated each section was the music. Hyphy DJ’s and mixed synth hipster rap occupied most of S.L.A.T.E., while indie and electronica meant you’d entered in Pool. Booth DJ’s were far less prevalent, and the booths in general were smaller as was the actual space between the aisles, again, giving the overall vibe a more packed feeling.

By the second day of the show (and there were 3), traffic slowed. This could have been because Project opened up on the 18th over at the Mandalay Bay, but it also made some exhibitors question whether 3 days now is too long (even though they had already shortened the show from 4). As many brands told us, while they felt good about the orders written from buyers, there was an underlying fear that retailers may not be able to pay on time, or worse, pay at all. This was the first time we’d heard that, and from several brands.

Livity Outernational guys giving hope to the eco-future of streetwear and accessories

The hope in the show came from brands like Jedidiah which literally has a Hope Collection, complete with inspirational graphics and textures, where proceeds from sales are donated to their top 10 humanitarian causes, and Livity Outernational. As Trevor Martin, the marketing director put it, “The worse it gets out there, the better it gets for brands like us.” As an eco-friendly brand always pushing the limits of new materials and concepts, including their latest in recycled T-shirts made into knitted hats, and poly long fiber hemp in outwear jackets, they are moving in a direction that is the future. “People want to be empowered by their purchases,” continued Trevor. “And we’re here to help other people, other brands, move in that direction.”

Black Klown Clothier debuted at S.L.A.T.E. with this popular design of Obama Run DC T-shirt

Other good news was the ballsy launches of brands like Flud watches (full story coming soon), Blue Line, and Grenade Gloves’ streetwear collection by pro snowboarder Danny Kass with a cool assortment of grenade-designs on T’s, silk-lined hoodies, and jackets. Cassette Playa was also on hand for the first time at S.L.A.T.E. along with Huf which is making a strong move forward along with Ambiguous. Other interesting news came from Rama Mayo’s section of brands including Durkl, Manifest, and a new brand called Black Klown Clothier featuring a very cool Obama print called Run DC that was getting picked up by buyers in droves. Other market opportunities included the women’s street contemporary like Married to the Mob, which is still an open category if done correctly. This was one of the few women’s street collections at S.L.A.T.E. while Hellz Bellz, the other hot brand in this genre, continued to show over at Project (and Nikita, another brand in this category, showcased previously at SIA and Agenda)..

Grenade Gloves by pro snowboarder Danny Kass debuted his streetwear collection Grenade in S.L.A.T.E. A big hit were the grenade logos in repeat patterns and this hoodie with a yellow silk liner like a boxing robe

The other major difference at MAGIC this year came from the seminar series. Label Networks has been invited for the past 5 years to present on Global Youth and Street Culture Fashion Trends but there was something about people needing information badly this time around. Our presentation was so packed, it required crowd control as people scrambled to fill the 300 seats in a flash, with more sitting on the floor, in the aisles, and along the walls. In uncertain times, clearly it made sense for many to get as much information to stay ahead of the game as possible.

Stay tuned for more in-depth stories, fashion photos, and interviews from top brands from MAGIC and S.L.A.T.E., plus show reviews from Project and Pool.

Akomplice out of Boulder, CO delivered an excellent fall collection including this striped albino tiger/zebra cap

Akomplice%uFFFDs new line of shorts

Be Priv out of Paris brings a different kind of street sensibility–17 arrondissement-style

This guy represented Blue Line, another new brand that debuted. The back of his shirt has a crown-like logo in blue crystals

Entrance to S.L.A.T.E. area but generally there were no walls separating shows this time

Married to the Mob always showcases a bad-ass, sassy demeanor. She was no exception, but still super nice (she gave me a pink MTB marker). Their hoodies, T%uFFFDs, shirts, denim are part of a growing women%uFFFDs street fashion subculture.

S.L.A.T.E.%uFFFDs halls were full, especially on the first day of the show

Smet%uFFFDs sneaker wall was pretty interesting

This is a pre-cursor shot of our upcoming fashion story on the peeps walking the show. These guys are a part of a new trend showcasing bling and crystals on one%uFFFDs denim

Livity Outernational surprises again with this eco-friendly solution in a knitted cap–made from recycled T-shirts