Project Fashion Trade Show’s Disco Balls are part of their ambiance

Story and Photos by Kathleen Gasperini
and Tom Wallace
Label Networks TV by Masaki Miyagawa

Project Fashion Trade Show at the Sands in Las Vegas continued to attract denim connoisseurs, upper streetwear brands, and leading-edge footwear brands, among others, despite the effects of the economy and its toll on many other fashion trade shows this fall. One difference is that Project, although also owned by Advanstar, the same company that owns MAGIC, S.L.A.T.E., and Pool, continues to keep ambiance at the forefront and a layout that attracts a certain type of highend boutique buyer or larger stores such as Fred Segal and Kistons, known for showcasing the latest trendsetting apparel for each season’s collections.

As many brands stated at this show, Project has now become their main show, and perhaps only show, that they need to attend these days. In addition, as Dre Hayes from The Foundation explained, many brands want to be represented in this show because it tends to attract the greatest cross-section of buyers on a different scale than MAGIC.

Often compared with Bread & Butter in Berlin, Project again brought with it top denim brands. Trends from Levi Strauss to Evisu indicate that the U.S.A. or Americana styles are back, including bootcuts, specific washes and fades, and strategically ripped knees and other areas. While skinny denim is still in, at Project it’s coming more from rock and roll brands like Rockstar Original who actually call their denim sillouttes “condom” denim. Project is also the location where you can find the latest trends and ideas coming from the progressive denim brand Nudie Jeans, which continued with their open booth space and showcase table, and bright lay-out of waxed darker denim styles.

Nudie Jeans booth

WESC always does well at Project and for next season, they showcased a mix of denim and styles as well as a take on 40’s and 50’s era button-up shirts for women. In flannel with front ruffles, girly touches with broche knitted flowers, and other details made much of their collection an interesting mix of retro, classic, music-inspired (some pieces came in plaid/flannels from a grunge tip), and skate inspired.

80’s and 90’s in styles from Hellz Bellz to Kid Robot and many others ran the gamut of neons to slouchy off the shoulder long shirts, jackets with shoulder pads, and another strong push in graphic T-shirts with meaning, such as Charlize Theron’s Give and Take T-shirt campaign for USA for Africa.

At Project, it’s always interesting to find some relatively new brands that are on the radar now thanks to a fortunate order from Fred Segal. In this case one to note from our perspective is Aviator Nation. The 70’s, surf, Venice beach vibe made these soft T-shirts in rainbow stripes, caps, and sweat pants a unique fit in an era where peace power and hippy aesthetics are on the rise. Another is Radcliffe which carries denim and other apparel pieces including Radcliffe Salvage which includes recycled materials and various washes. Although the two brands are miles apart, the trend bubbling is the importance of the wash, feel, fabric, and era represented which is becoming more attractive to the savvy consumer looking for something more in their purchase.

Aviator Nation booth and designer were among the new finds at Project

While denim is the main aspect of Project, the women’s section is also massive, but unlike the North Hall of Magic, it tends to be some of the more leading-edge designers intended for specific boutiques. In addition, Project boasts an amazing footwear section such as Generic Surplus, Pro Keds, and Alife, and accessories such as Mosely Tribes sunglasses, Miss Wax and Han Cholo jewelry, and watches ranging from G-Shock (a booth that was packed throughout the show thanks to their new collection), Diesel, Ben Sherman, and even Original Penguins.

Set-up like streets and avenues like New York City, finding various brands at Project, despite the similar booth types, is relatively easy. Plus the color-coordinated carpeting (i.e., pink for women’s), and several different lounges all added to the creative vibe and atmosphere of this show.

Generally, while S.L.A.T.E., Magic, and Pool tend to carry more youth culture oriented brands which we cover at Label Networks, it’s nice to pop over to Project to see where things are “growing-up” and the aspiration that many brands have for moving into Project in the future. While premium denim has taken a hit, and of course impacted Project, clearly at this show business was being done. It’s become bigger and stronger over the years and while rumors swarm that it may be moved into the South Hall of Magic next year, you can bet that Project will still be where the hipsters unite.

Aviator Nation T-shirt

Denim displays at Project featuring motorcycles and America were common this time.

Dre Hayes from The Foundation represents many brands at Project including Hellz Bellz behind him. Stay tuned for Label Networks TV interview with Dre coming soon.

Miss Wax jewelry and their ear pieces and back necklaces were a big hit along with their boothmates’ collection from Han Cholo.

L.A.M.B. display was part of an interesting mix of footwear and apparel art exhibition featured in stand-up boards upon entering Project.

Levi Strauss goes full-on authentic Americana at Project.

Project Halls

Project Halls

WESC gal showcases part of their new collection including this plaid top with ruffles.

WESC went with some interesting mix of fabrics, knits, and details such as this flower broche on a sweater. Their denim collection also created a buzz.

Car bracelett worn by a Project attendee. She actually picked this up in the Cash and Carry section of Pool. Story on Pool Fashion Trade Show coming next.