In our last, but certainly not least, trade show review from the Fall season 2008, we’d like to say that POOL Fashion Trade Show, held during MAGIC in Las Vegas in the Center Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center August 25-27, has clearly made its case as the platform for artistic and design-driven brands. While it can be hard to believe that this show is actually in the same building that houses the North Hall women’s contemporary, men’s, kids, the EcoCollection, licensing and sourcing areas, and South Hall’s urban, streetwear, and S.L.A.T.E. shows, tucked into the back of the Central Hall, Pool is an eclectic oasis of a show that provides a sigh of relief. Organized around the theme of art and design-driven brands, the buyers and retailers who tend to venture to this show specifically are the correspondingly cool art and design-driven boutiques looking for something new.

Brands such as the ever-artistic Quiet Hero show here with their beautiful selections of artistic graphic T-shirts, jackets, and other pieces. De-Nada and their woven and knitted scarves and new handbags from Peru are tucked in here, as is TokiDoki -a showcase brand. Leather geniuses and western aristocratic designers Skin.Graft.Designs, along with punk inspired accessories brand Pretti Vacant and booth-buddy Lipstick Prophets and her notoriously sexy hoodies, shirts, and skirts find Pool home. Rojas’ asymmetrical block prints on dresses and bubble bottom oversized tops premiered here, along with Feral Childe, Durkl, Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Dear Creatures, and the young, playful line from Japan called Scolar. While much attention was also drawn to ever-growing growing popularity of the brand Blood is the New Black, Turk Taylor, Jeffrey Campbell Footwear, Cocaine Mule, and 3Sixteen, this is also the place where one can find brands like the super funny collection from Free Gold Watch and their statement T-shirts and button-downs, Truth Soul Armor and their meaningful apparel, Toy Plane’s new take on utilitarian, or even large brands showcasing their latest, more artistic creations such as Dickies, Lesportsac and Original Penguin watches.

Interestingly, because United Fashion Trade Show was no longer present, many smaller brands moved to Pool this time -not just for cost reasons, but also so they could be seen without getting swallowed which can often happen when it comes to larger shows such as MAGIC and Project. A bit of an incubator show with an edge and definitely more established than United (even though they made a grand effort), Pool offered a home for cool brands from United such as Steve Shein accessories, Toy Plane, Uzi, Rob N Steel, Plain Gravy, and others.

One of the best aspects of the show were the various art installations, particularly the creative workshop showcasing the design process from designers Anzevino and Florence, Dear Creatures, Feral Childe, Gytha Mander, Mary Meyer, Meadow, REVL, and Velvet Leaf. Using vignettes, boards, and mannequins, each designer showcased their original sketches and patterns, and the final products towards creating inspiration showcases of the creative process behind their final collections.

There were Beck listening stations, which really set the mood, as well as a cool selection of top magazines, such as Flaunt, Antennae, Good, and ReadyMade, and of course what’s become known as the best healthy food of all of the trade shows in Vegas.

While the show does sometimes seem quieter and less busy than say, S.L.A.T.E. or Project, often exhibitors who choose to show at Pool are great supporters of their scene here and keep coming back. This is because it tends to attract the very people who are looking for something alternative as well as artistic and design-inspired.

Interestingly, I ran into some professors I knew from the Virginia Commonwealth University Fashion Institute where I’d presented once before and they told me that the students they had brought to Vegas this year (10 soon-to-graduate designers) loved Pool the most of all of the trade shows. Why? Because seeing the creations of smaller brands mixed with larger brands showcasing their more artistic collections related more closely to what they hoped to do someday too, and it inspired them to believe in their work.

Overall, while trade shows definitely have specific guidelines and themes, it’s good to know there’s one that stands for art and design. Which in many cases, soon become the preferred favorite brands of the next generation.