A reconfigured and rebranded Project show made an impressive debut in Las Vegas last week. The first Vegas edition of the show to be held since producer Advanstar acquired rival company ENK International, the show took place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center February 19-21, focused mostly on menswear and featured thousands of brands.

The packed show included two shows-within-a-show, Project MVMNT, a youth and streetwear section with brands such as 10 Deep and LRG, and The Tents @ Project, a standalone area with directional and designer menswear brands such as Michael Bastian, Jardine, Ian Velardi and Robert Geller. Next door, ENKVegas featured aisles of contemporary womenswear from the likes of Joe’s Jeans, L.A.M.B. and Citizens of Humanity.

Advanstar CEO Tom Florio praised the new layout. “The idea was to try to unify the business, particularly the men’s business,” he told Sportswear International. “The men’s fashion business in the United States is highly segmented from a price point of view. Everybody is in a different place. It’s very hard for a buyer to get a point of view about what is going on in the American market.”

“From a retailer’s perspective you can actually shop the show and get through it really easily,” added Tommy Fazio, Project’s president, who, as a former retailer, was determined to make the show easy to navigate. His influence was seen in clearly defined areas that included Footwear, California Lifestyle and Project Blue (i.e., the denim area). Michael Bastian, who has never shown at a trade show before, said the experience was a positive one and that he had made initial contacts at the show to launch a licensed line of denim that he has planned.

Overall, traffic at Project was steady and the mood was upbeat. Fashion highlights included the launch of Paige’s Restored Collection made from recycled PET bottles and its 3-D effect crinkle denim, Cockpit USA’s new bag collection, Rogue’s new denim line and suspender-detail woven shirts and other retro-inspired looks from growing menswear brand 3rd and Army, which offered free haircuts in its booth. In addition, LA-based streetwear brand Guns Germs $teal wowed with fresh photo-print sweatshirts and other 1990s-inspired originals in the MVMNT area.

Capsule, MRket, Accessories and Stitch were housed neatly at the Sands Expo Center and the connected Venetian Hotel. Next season they are all due to join forces with the new Liberty show, the latest creation of Project show founder Sam Ben-Avraham.

This season Capsule itself was a respite with brightly lit aisles and smiling faces, showing some niche brands and designs by the likes of Gilded Age, John Varvatos USA, Southwick, General Quarters and White Raven. Highlights included PSKaufman, who showed its range of recycled rubbed tire soled, inventive footwear in bright colors and the brand’s usual wit and whimsy. Jacob Davis launched its line, named after Levi Strauss’ tailor partner. The working man’s collection of denim, vests and shirting is meant for men who have a creative vision and are out to prove it. Gilded Age impressed with its assortment of denim, knits and outerwear, which had an apocalyptic edge this season.

Upstairs, MRket housed its now trademark Made in Italy section sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission and a UK design area plus international selections from France, Germany, Spain and Sweden. In addition, Vanguards Gallery showcased new and emerging brands curated to suit the needs of the buyers in attendance.

This season, Moda rebranded itself as Stitch and while the name might have changed, the mix of women’s contemporary, sportswear, lifestyle and international brands remained the same. Plus, a large contingent of LA-based labels were on hand to help celebrate the inaugural show. Meanwhile, Accessories the Show was consistent with its blend of curated accessories for spring/summer 2013.