The Las Vegas Fall/Winter 2009 collection previews ended on Friday on a stronger than anticipated note, with solid attendance by major American retailers and Japanese, Korean and Canadian buyers writing even on the first day of the shows. Here, a rundown of the week’s offerings.


Of all the shows last week in Las Vegas, MAGIC appeared to take the hardest hit from a protracted recession. Reducing the show to two main halls, organizers merged WWD MAGIC, White, Kids and ECollection into the North Hall while MAGIC Man, SLATE, Street and POOL took over the Central Hall. The newest development was Premium at MAGIC, a platform for directional men’s and women’s brands. Teaming up with Exposure UK, organizers created several big draws to the Concourse including Porter, Denim Demon, Gram, Globetrotter, Stansfield, Bassike and Hoon. Less of a draw was the brand mix, comprising familiar denim, T-shirt and underwear brands, directly adjacent, and what looked like a scaled-down SLATE. In the back of Central Hall, POOL didn’t stray from its identity and for this reason not only succeeded in retaining previous exhibitors but also adding two new sections, Emerging Concepts, with brands such as Modern Lovers, S.O.B. Apparel and Costume Dept, and Cash & Carry, a bazaar of handcrafted items ranging from colorful interchangeable bootie-liners to vintage book cover belt buckles. Notable brands at POOL included Cassius, Anzevino & Florence, Sneaky Steve, Rojas, Vanguard, Ben Sherman, Tokidoki and Zuriick.


In many ways an anti-trade show with its suite-driven format, Guild continued to intrigue a largely Japanese contingent of visitors with sophisticated Depression-inspired jackets by Elc, subtle tailoring and fur accessories by Canadian designer Philip Sparks, and starry-Fair Isle reversible knits by & Park. Overall, the brand mix was thoughtful, if not quietly provocative (Conference of Birds, Mjolk, Wings + Horns, Reigning Champ, Apolis Activism, Ludwig, Huffer, Odyn Vovk, Double Down, Seavees and Rivi), and the show’s location at the Palms Place Hotel & Spa a sweet escape from the Strip.


By most accounts the strongest show of the week in Las Vegas, Capsule injected a point of view with its brands, ranging from April 77 to Creep to Loden Dager and YMC. A condensed version of the New York edition, Capsule still managed to thrill hipsters, with flight jackets under the William Gibson label, Hawaiian cane denim, and Blue Blood’s most refined collection to date.


While ENK Vegas at The Wynn’s Lafite Ballroom opened on Tuesday, the show was off to a particularly busy start on Wednesday due to retailers hitting the show prior to Project’s opening at noon. Contained to one large space versus last season’s numerous suites, exhibitors, for the most part ENK loyalists and contemporary-oriented, had roomy booths in which to showcase their collections. Not all were for fall. J Brand, for example, would show fall on Sunday at the Coterie. Where Post’age debuted its menswear collection of innovative basic tops and dark, coated denims, Rich & Skinny offered a new knit program of low-back tanks and asymmetrical-sleeve tops to complement new denims including a slim boyfriend, studded denim and a hi-back, low-front silhouette with a front yoke. Crossley also showed asymmetrical back details on its women’s coats but its overall aesthetic was a softer, rounded shoulder on jackets and luxurious fabrications. Hudson, meanwhile, unveiled a terrific, dressy collection of clean, dark (mostly black) washes (versus rinses) for guys, with cleaned up waistband labels, flap-less back pocket designs and buttery smooth fabrications. And collections by Trovata, Rag & Bone and Fred Perry by Raf Simons underscored, as one exhibitor put it, the “classy” element of the show.


Under scrutiny due to the economic climate and a reduction of brands, Project Las Vegas, through Friday at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, defied many expectations with its bullish atmosphere and strong turnout. Although the show retained its mix of West Coast rock ’n’ roll lifestyle and premium denim brands, it also showcased outstanding product from European brand such as Coast + Weber + Ahaus, Woolrich and B’sbee and young domestic brands including Aether, Current Elliot, Number:LAB, 3Sixteen, Post’age and Spindle & Canister. Vael debuted a more affordable line called Black Laboratories while Quiksilver Limited showed another great collection of shirt-jackets and sweat-tees and organic footwear. Other colorful additions to the show included Bjorn Borg polos, new vintage prints at Johnson Motors, JC Rags and Odd Molly. More than a handful of exhibitors reported doing brisk business on opening day. Others noted a large turnout in particular by Japanese retailers. Wes Hartwell, Creative Director of Nobody, which offered a long denim dress, overdyed dark denim and shredded denim with dark patches with hanging threads where patches were sewn, explained that Project Las Vegas was the best of all the international shows he had exhibited at this season, with people writing orders, and hoped that Coterie, on Sunday, would be just as successful.

—Tim Yap with files from Christopher Blomquist