Project Trade Show “To-Gether” in NYC.

Last week’s men’s fashion trade shows in New York City including Project, Capsule, Rendez-Vous, Agenda, and others featured several important innovations that are fresh reflections of where trade shows are headed and how the industry is changing. One of the most interesting innovations came from Project’s show “To-Gether” July 17-19, featuring some 200 brands in an inspiring multi-floor brick loft at 82 Mercer Street in SoHo. Their theme is getting stronger, and was re-enforced this time by the introduction of “Made By Project” -11 artisanal brands right in the middle of the first floor showcasing the art of craftsmanship. The effect was like a performing arts pop-up highlighting the current fashion nod to heritage, but also artistry and the importance of true design behind highly crafted products.

Display and booth from The Brooklyn Circus.

Made By Project selected brands included CXXVI Clothing Co. and their custom carved Vietnam-style lighters, Leather Head Sports handmade footballs, basketballs, and baseballs; ETWAS leather bags constructed on site; Hartford Denim Co. making custom denim jeans; Bowery Lane Bicycles assembling and designing bikes; and Silva Ltd. assembling their bamboo wood and hand-cut leather handled-straps iPad and Mac cases.

Among the contemporary and directional brands at the show, included brand installations, which in many ways are becoming extremely effective for attracting buyers, media, and designers. For example, Woolrich John Rich & Bros. showcasing their collaborations with 4 artisanal manufacturers; The Brooklyn Circus which was a booth but made into a retrospective of old-school Ivy League style, modern prep with a heritage vibe; K-Swiss X Joey Yates exhibition and clothing paying tribute to street tennis legend Joey “Love” Yates and a throwback to old school tennis and sneakers; and Nudie jeans tribute to making good environmental choices when it comes to denim.

Hartford Denim was onsite making crafted denim and bags.

Brands ranged from Adidas SLVR and their tailored sport-inspired collection, Generic Surplus and their re-invention of clean footwear designs, featuring new aspects such as espadrille-like sole, and white lug soles; Palladium which will be rolling out their next Exploration campaign featuring Pharrell Williams walking the underground of Tokyo; denim kingpins such as WESC; Japanese label Toy Plane; a conducive set-up by Rogue featuring several of their innovative new designs for men’s contemporary; Dickies and their inspired reflection of workwear with 2012 themes based on original archives of their workwear; Supra sunglasses which continues to roll-out unique designs that are capturing the attention of fashionistas across Europe and North America; Field Scout inspired by Native American culture; Under Two Flags that takes their inspiration from the USA and the UK; Neuw Denim with is quickly catching the attention of top stores; John Galliano Footwear which attracted a number of curious buyers and media, plus staples in the scene such as True Religion, InCase and a number of upcoming collaborations, G-Shock watches, Ksubi, Cheap Monday, and AG Adriano Goldschmied.

The latest from Nudie.

Despite the eclectic mix of directional brands and ideas, some themes from Project NY are coming through. There are on-going tributes to heritage including classic manufacturers teaming up with more contemporary brands for various collaborations, Americana but now including a broad range of the meaning, such as tributes to Ivy League schools, Native American cultures in terms of patterns and dyes, gentlemen farmer concepts, and a mix of rocker moto-culture and rockabilly.

Apparent at this show also is the strong showing of denim brands, many featuring new designs from eco-friendly solutions, faded washes, or contrasted by dark sharp raw denim and crosses between skinny jeans cuts and regular boot-cut. Prep is also apparent with tennis-themes, polo collars, striped button-downs and rich usages of colors like Cape Cod red, blue, white, green, and yellow. Unmistakably is a rise in nautical themes, from anchor jewelry, to boat shoe like classics, and Northeast sailing motifs. Finally, surf inspiration is in the mix, but not in the old-school action sports sense, but tailored, upscale, “heritage” ’70’s styles. On target with this last trend was Project’s Desiron Beach House lounge complete with margaritas, antique surfboards, sea-side wall hangings, and chairs and couches for places to chill, write orders, or network.

Part of the Woolrich collab.

From those we interviewed at Project NYC, there was an upbeat vibe despite retailers being careful with their buying patterns. What’s interesting is how trade shows are becoming a different type of platform: Not just places to write orders, but places to get inspired, think of new concepts, collaborations, and ways of doing business in an altogether new fashion scene.

Adidas Originals’ latest jacket which is reversable and has an interesting black and white pattern inside with colorful details.

More from Brooklyn Circus. Heritage trends, nod to Ivy League.

Cheap Monday from Sweden (and owned by H&M) is known for the their coloful denim.

Dre Hayes from The Foundation has a big area on the Project floor. Here in front of InCase which is doing several interesting new collabs and introducing new materials in their Apple-esque packs and Mac bags.

Dickies was able to go back to their archives and re-design classic workwear for this upcoming season.

Generic Surplus has introduced many new designs and a cool newspaper with great interviews–theme is East LA.

KSwiss collab with Joey Yates and a tribute to street tennis including a capsule collection and tennis sneakers.

Hartford Denim. Getting raw.

Rogue has some interesting menswear designs in pants and button-downs.

Silva’s bamboo Mac and iPad cases.

Under Two Flags had some great tailored themes. Drew inspiration from the US and UK.

Bowery Lane Bicycle assembling in Made.

Leather balls made onsite by Leather Head Sports.

Detailed new construction for denim from Hartford Denim.

Woolrich exhibition. They are doing 4 unique collabs.

WESC had a full booth with large collection. From denim to plaid button-downs.

Peach pit rings. Part of Made By Project.