Cautious optimism was the overall message on opening day of the Las Vegas fashion trade shows, which run through Thursday.

“One of the questions over the last few months is swirling around the general economy not being great and wondering whether it’s going to come here,” confirmed Chris DeMoulin, MAGIC International President and Executive Vice President of Advanstar’s Fashion Group. “Everybody’s so keen to try and figure out what can I find that’s going to get me around the corner and get my customers into the store.”

DeMoulin added that although bigger retailers were traveling in smaller groups this season, MAGIC was recording a higher attendance by individual retailers.

Indeed, the biggest trend this season might just be the niche-driven trade show such as MAGIC's ECOllection, a showcase of environmentally conscious brands such as Mission Playground, Eden and Narwahl. S.L.A.T.E., MAGIC’s new platform for progressive skate and streetwear as another example, was the talk of the town on opening day, with a cool, coherent mix of brands re-presenting the urban market with intelligence and sense of community. Most noteworthy was Quiksilver Limited Edition, which showed slubby striped tops, brilliantly reinterpreted seersucker shorts with waist zips, nylon pajama-like cardigans and oxford cloth jackets in light blue and shell pink. Stüssy’s engineered stripes and remixing of old and new prints to Twelve Bar’s M-65 nylon jacket in brilliant blue and slim-straight black denim to Square 1’s embroidered logos and colors bands on classic sweatshirt silhouettes encapsulated a lot of the new-new-80s, color-blocked and sociopolitically minded T-shirts, varsity jackets and hoodies at the show.

POOL benefited from a sleek reorganization of its brands and aesthetic, attributed by many to former star buyer-turned-POOL manager Stephanie Seeley. Key highlights included Anzevino + Florence’s silk organza tiered dresses with an acid twist, slick eyewear by New Zealand’s Cassius, iridescent purple to check rompers by Rojas and ultra fluid trenches by the Australian brand, Darko. The flirty women’s brand Dear Creatures provided much of the artwork seen throughout the show.

Save for brands such as Esprit, XOXO, Dollhouse and BCBGeneration, which featured an effortlessly sophisticated, young contemporary mix of chunky knits with oversized collars and printed dresses, the overall womenswear showcase seemed lacking in direction and polish this season.

It was a different story, however, over at the Sands Expo. ENK’s intimate debut at the Bassano Ballroom made a powerful statement with a classy mix of brands, ranging from Rag & Bone and Nicholas K to J Brand, Cacharel, Conference of Birds, 24Standard and Cassaves out of Japan.

And with go-go dancers strutting on top of a Tao nightclub build-out, Project was definitely pulsing this season. There was an incredibly wide assortment of brands, from Steve McQueen with its vintage prints to Bjorn Borg and its sophisticated swimwear and Cold Method with its bright yellow zip-front sporty jackets, dark steel windbreakers and crisp shirts. Overall, the show moved to a new global beat.