Story and photos by Tom Wallace and Kathleen Gasperini
There’s no question that Liberty Fairs, now in its 4th show, reminds those of us in the fashion industry of the early days of Project. The show, which was launched by Sam Ben-Avraham, the original founder of Project, has made his latest incarnation of a trade show with the similar aesthetics of walking into an American Rag store, but updated. Key themes are presented through a vast array of denim brands, and contemporary street-influenced sports styles represented often with high quality craftsmanship and a yearning for things past.
From brand booth displays featuring taxidermy, American flags, old leather, and refurbished wood, the entire show feels more like a big, cozy store than trade show in Las Vegas.
Liberty Fairs is part of the trilogy of shows making an impact on the industry, along with Agenda and (capsule) and this time around, from February 17-19, 2014, this group, also known as Modern Assembly, clearly attracted the latest trendsetting retailers and fashion industry players. The show is divided into unique sections including The Foundry, which is a curated installation of top U.S.-based manufacturers to educated attendees on alternative sourcing options, Network where 4 new partners such as NuOrder and Fashion GPS illustrate fashion industry technology and online wholesale, Lot, Stock & Barrel featuring vintage products, and our favorite, the Freedom Hall curated by Ouigi Theodore from The Brooklyn Circus/BKc.
The Freedom Hall is designed to bring out a touch of nostalgia for times past with old leather chairs, vintage baseballs and sporting equipment, vintage signage, and reconstructed elements. The brands are selected by Theodore that represent sportswear defined by a more international view of work and play, anti-office, refined ruggedness, function, and form. Friday Night Blazer Club (F.N.B.C.) for example showcases here with their Japanese influenced sportstyles and blazers, 3sixteen, Black Ivy, PF Flyers, Lawrence Airline, and English. This is where you’ll see the next stage of street-meets-highend-sportswear with a mix of classic looks and trendsetting combinations such as varsity jacket inspirations, crafted combinations of academia and workwear with unique style.
Liberty Fairs also features a handful of heritage brands from Red Wing to Dickies, plus the Woolmark Company and Filson, who supplied the show’s wool and leather bags. Kill City provided elements of a music-inspired denim exhibition, mixed with Levi’s booth display encouraging a look down memory lane to remind us all where denim came from. Moleskin debuted their high-end messenger bags at the show which brought another taste of what’s to come. Neuw Denim is always an interesting brand to check out for their latest silhouettes, as well as Nudie Jeans which had their denim repair program on-hand.
Overall, Liberty Fairs is a show to watch as it continues to develop and push the crossover between sports, street, contemporary, reconstructed, and modern in today’s world that includes a different kind of aesthetic, sense of quality, and fashion.