Newness, innovation and education were the buzz words in Las Vegas when brands and buyers converged August 14 to 16 for fashion’s mandatory bi-annual visit to Sin City. Attendees took in the nightlife on the Strip, but it was business as usual on the trade show floor at Project, MAGIC, and the Modern Assembly shows, which include Liberty Fairs, Capsule and Agenda.
Changes Ahead for Agenda
While most trade show organizers reported consistency with attendance and exhibitors numbers, perhaps the biggest news in Vegas is upcoming changes for Agenda Las Vegas. Streetwear is still doing well according to Agenda Founder Aaron Levant, but the category – and fashion – is changing very quickly. “There’s not a lot of staying power,” said Levant. “The length of time that a brand can remain relevant or a trend gets shorter and shorter with the Internet....everything is happening faster,” he explained. Indeed business is changing –and Levant is ready to change with it. He is planning to re-launch the show with a whole new concept in February. “I’ve been very not willing to stick with the status quo,” said Levant. “So come February we’re going to completely re-launch the Vegas event.” Levant has recently been adapting and innovating events across the board whether that be launching ComplexCon or Agenda Festival. Levant says Agenda Vegas won’t become a consumer event, but he is planning to innovate and change its format overall. “There’s major distribution model changes and format innovations that are disrupting this business and we are going to focus on how do we actually help change and push the industry forward and not just innovate the show,” said Levant. Knowing Levant’s track record for innovation, expect something exciting, different and entertainment-centric. “Even if you’re not a streetwear retailer I think what we’re going to do will be so interesting and educational that I think you’ll want to come take part in it,” he said.
Premiere trade show Liberty Fairs, offered a wide selection of menswear across the board. The show featured denim brands such as Levi’s Made and Crafted, Nudie Jeans, PRPS, True Religion and One Teaspoon as well as a great mix of advanced contemporary brands, streetwear and even luxury loungewear. The ‘Quest,’ area, featuring designers who merge luxury sportswear and tailored clothing, nearly doubled in size this season. New to the show was an activation area called The General Store curated by Travis Weaver, owner of Manready Mercantile in Houston, TX. “It launched two shows ago in New York and did really, really well so this is our first time in Las Vegas,” said Liberty Fairs Co-Founder Stephanie Seeley. Brands included Ace Rivington, 1791 Supply & Co., Mark Albert Boots, Tres Cuervos as well as several home and gift items. “There is something for everyone on this floor - one hundred percent. Especially with the growth of Quest and the addition of [new] brands we’re now also speaking to a completely new market. So we’re excited,” she said.
As for trends, individuality is key for menswear. The show floor was filled with distressed denim, ‘80s inspiration, Hawaiian shirts, tropical prints, neons, activewear, color blocking, military/camo, stripes, moto cross looks and plenty of pink - the color of the season. Seeley stated: “To me, there’s a lot of brands that are on the floor right now that are just doing their own thing. They could truly be in so many different stores based on what they’re doing.” A noteworthy emerging trend Seeley said is comfortable travelwear from bags to really beautiful, comfortable sportswear.
At Capsule progressive emerging and established brands continued to deliver unique products. The show lineup included brands such as Represent, Marna Ro, Mr. Completely, Monitaly, Jungmaven, ADBD, Publish Brand, C2H4, as well as fashion sneaker brands Casbia, Golden Goose, CD Network and Clearweather Brand. There are a lot of progressive brands from streetwear to young designer brands that have emerged over the last few years. “They’re young talented designers representing themselves as creative beings so to speak,” said Capsule Show Director Chris Corrado. Think Mr. Completely, The Incorporated, Lucid FC and Daniel Patrick.
Young designer, fashion denim, graphics, color and tropical prints were trending at the show. A number of brands offered Hawaiian print shirts such as Avanti Designs, Gitman Vintage and Go Barefoot, one of the original Hawaiian shirt makers.
Additional, exclusive products are also the name of the game for denim. “Treatments, washes, handwork, there’s still a palette for that - maybe even more so than ever,” said Corrado. “There’s a lot of fashion denim out there as well as a lot of brands that are introducing not a denim program persay, but they’re showing pieces within their collection that are not standard five pocket. There is a lot of work going into each of those pieces,” said Corrado. Tokyo-based label From Muu is a brand creating exclusive pieces with intricate hand drawn details. “That’s [what] people need to be doing to get attention on the shelves - that’s a special product,” said Corrado.
Project, which is presented by UBM Fashion, was held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center along with Project Women's, The Tents, The Collective, Pooltradeshow, Stitch and Curve. Presented alongside Project, The Tents continued its focus on luxury and designer brands, contemporary men's and dual-gender labels as well as denim. With 75 premium denim brands at Project and The Tents, denim is the show’s largest category. Brands included big names such as Levi’s, Paige, Mavi, Hudson, Calvin Klein Jeans, AG and Citizens of Humanity as well as directional labels such as Raleigh Denim Workshop, Frame, S.M.N Studio, Tortoise Denim, and Slate Denim Co.
Denim is building momentum for Spring ’18. “It’s definitely a revival,” said Tommy Fazio, Fashion Director of UBM Fashion Group. “We’ve seen it come and go. It’s on a huge upswing. I think 2018 is going to be more of a peak than it’s every been,” he said adding that nostalgia and innovation are inspiring the denim market. Technology is creating more options than ever before with stretch fabrics and lighter weights - almost chambray weight denim - even in 5-pocket jeans. “Eleven oz. and nine oz. weights are super important,” Fazio said. “I think the innovation in denim is there and that makes it new again.” Fazio noted that Paige Mens is doing a great job with innovating new jeans and AG is now offering a whole new category of casual dressing that is on point. Fazio also predicts that we are going to see a lot more new denim brands. Denim trends spanned the gamut from clean to distressed and activewear inspiration. The ‘80s are dominating the season inspiring painted treatments, bleaching, color blocking and oversized shapes. Also look for tattered denim, a revival of vintage looks and customization.
For Spring ’18, newness is key for driving sales according to Erik Ulin, UBM President of Men’s who noted that it is still a tough market. “Specialty retailers know their customers, but they also need to build new customers while they’re serving old ones. A lot of them are looking at new brands to test them. If they’re not, they should be,” said Ulin. Tommy Fazio, Fashion Director of UBM Fashion Group also agreed newness is important. “Particularly in menswear I think the retail sector is changing and what’s going to drive business is what’s new,” said Fazio. “It just so happens [we’re] at a time where trends are sort of unexpected and mixing it up allows men to look at things differently,” he explained adding that a beautiful tailored jacket can be paired with an easy knit polo, patterns mixed to create an easy beach look or an anorak can be paired with swimwear to give a more sophisticated spin to athleisure.
Coastal lifestyle looks built around cotton and organic cotton are also important this season Fazio said. “It’s almost this California lifestyle [look], but it’s more of a coastal lifestyle because it’s an ease in the way dressing,” he explained. Overall, individuality is taking on more importance for men. “Guys are really taking that moment to be individual in the way they dress,” said Fazio.