Project NYC
“Businesswise everyone is super optimistic. It's an optimistic season. The runways in Paris and Europe were a little dark and dreary and [the mood] wasn’t very happy and what I wanted to bring here was a sense of optimism, energy, color. That’s why everything is very tactile and in different colors. It’s inspiring people to think in different ways,” Tommy Fazio told Sportswear International yesterday, the first day of the first Project show under his presidency­—and, by sheer coincidence, Inauguration Day of another president in the USA.

It was also the first edition of Project NYC since show producer Advanstar acquired rival company ENK International and folded the former ENK NYC show into Project.
Held at a new venue, Pier 92, and featuring just over 300 brands, the merger of the two shows was seamless and seemed welcomed by retailers and exhibitors alike. “What was most interesting to me was to approach this as a retailer. How could we make it easy for the retailer to see all the brands in one convenient location?” added Fazio. “There is a roomful of retailers here that is thanking us for doing that. And that’s really important. That’s a really important move that we made.”
Indeed, the mood at Project seemed very upbeat, which was probably heightened by the new space, which was arranged with three wide aisles that were bathed in natural light.

Raleigh booth at Project NYC
Raleigh booth at Project NYC
Exciting show debuts included the arrival of Grayers, a fantastic new brand by former Ralph Lauren veterans, Raleigh, the handcrafted line from North Carolina, and Lewis Leathers, an English motorcycle heritage brand that is now re-entering the US market thanks to Michael Paradise of The Stronghold. Meanwhile, Kevin Chen of OpenMarket unveiled his company’s new two-tiered/renamed approach: OPNK is a collection of khakis that he treated/distressed as if they were denim (with a MSRP of a mere $98) while the OPNMKT collection targets a slightly older customer with its still reasonably priced–but still incredibly fashion-forward–offerings. Likewise, woven shirt brand Descendant of Thieves debuted its branch-out: a highly detailed field jacket. And JACHS brand director James Costa explained how it now has two divisions (JACHS and the younger/more athletic JACHS Academy) and is a full collection.

Stripy sweaters at Rodd & Gunn
Stripy sweaters at Rodd & Gunn
This season key trends at Project are horizontal striped sweaters and shirts which were spotted at JACHS, Farah and Rodd & Gunn, a brand from New Zealand that has purposely “Americanized” its collection for fall 2013 a bit, and light wash pseudo-1990s jeans a la Agave’s in vertical herringbone and glen plaid. Short wale corduroy in red, white and blue (Alex Maine) or jewel tones (Hudson) are also big at the show.

The first show to open this season’s men’s market in New York, MRket started on Sunday and exhibitors said that traffic was steady on that first day.

Once again, the most interesting area of the show, which was held at the Javits Center, was the Vanguards Gallery, which had 25 up-and-coming brands and was billed as “The Ultimate in Classic Cool.” Notable here was Italian denim label Nine in the Morning, which showed its jeans using neckties as belts. It offered a multicolor slub denim jean and numerous styles in light washes. In addition, shirting brand Aglini displayed shirts with offbeat collar details and coordinating bow ties while Barque, the contemporary men’s line designed by Gilbert Chen, served up a fantastic collection with such standout pieces as a colorful horizontal stripe vest, a green and blue tartan jacket and a series of “winter nautical” looks in white and blue. Other Vanguard exhibitors included Blue Claw, an impressive line of canvas bags, and Flint and Tinder, a two-year-old Made in the USA line of underwear that has already sold 50,000 pairs to date.

On the main show floor, woven shirt line Café Bleu served up a wide mix of styles including colorful camouflage-print models and its brand new footwear collection while Royal Helm made its US debut with a collection inspired by retro English bicyclists.
Also eye-catching was the Macko’s Picks area that greeted visitors as they entered. Produced by Michael Macko together with Brooklyn Dry Goods, it consisted of must-see outfits and items presented on mannequins and a mechanical spinning clothes rack.