Perhaps it was the paintball mural that greeted visitors in the main lounge and invited them to help create a work of abstract art? Or maybe its exhibitors just all happened to have a strong season? Whatever the reason, with an assortment of brands spanning everything from classic streetwear and better contemporary to urban outdoor and denim along with a smattering of homewear and apothecary brands, Liberty returned to its home at Pier 94 and seemed like an especially vibrant and creative event this season.
Here are our highlights….
Best new denim brand: Swonne
Created by former Ralph Lauren designer Katie Golinczak, Swonne is a just launched NYC-based contemporary men’s denim-based brand that made its trade show debut at Liberty. Its timeless look includes Mods and Rockers inspired jeans made from Kurabo denim with unique details like a round zipper pull on the front pocket. There are also classic white button-up shirts, a coated jean jacket, sweatshirts and tees in Battersea Indigo and very cool limited edition outerwear. The name is a take on the London postal code of SW1, where Golinczak grew up.
Best ethical/sustainable denim brand: Outland Denim
This relatively new men’s and women’s line from Australia returned to Liberty with great looking apparel (including the denim jacket pictured) that is created from sustainable fabrics and materials and sewn by fair-trade female workers in Asia. The work has saved them from a life of being sex-trafficked.
Coolest, most original recycled/reworked line: Atelier & Repairs
This LA-based brand headed by denim veteran Maurizio Donadi showed at a trade show for the first time and truly made a splash with its one-of-a-kind pieces that are all created from used clothing and fabric scraps. Colorful and highly original, the brand is timely both for its message and its fantastic designs.
Best interpretation of the 1990s streetwear comeback: Artistix
The streetwear section at Liberty was large but this look has an obvious logo and the compulsory bold print and colors.
Most fashionable military rework: Cockpit
This brand, which has long been an official supplier of outerwear to the US military, served up some of its classic silhouettes this season but reimagined them in superlight fabrics such as Oxford cloth or camo seersucker to create clothes that are effortlessly comfortable, wearable and even rather elegant.
Nicest minimal athleisure wear: Wheelers.V
Launched four years ago, this collection relies more on quality fabrics and a clean aesthetic over any bells, whistles, embellishments or logos. In addition to a workout suit, it also has some rather incredible terry cloth polos for summer 2019.
Best fashion exporter: South Korea
Exhibitor Ideal People Showroom showed a bevy of impressive brands from the Asian nation that were cutting-edge and/or super fun. There were funky, thick-soled plaid sneakers from Across To Genuine Era, black cotton tees in super heavy and sturdy fabric weights from Heavy Stand Armory and cool denim from Lab 101. The latter made its US debut with block-wash jeans that create large rectangles on the pants and a pair designed to look like it is being worn inside out. The jeans wholesale for $75.
Cleverest graphic tees: The Art of Scribble and Tee Library
One of our favorite discoveries at any of the shows, The Art of Scribble is another Korean line. Its Sun-Tech collection of shirts features “incomplete” graphics when they are not in the sunlight. But in a kind of daytime version of glow-in-the-dark, when bright light hits them, the image “magically” appears. (A black and white Viking ship suddenly flies a Swedish flag and sails on the blue sea, for instance). Each shirt has a card showing what the completed design looks like and wholesales for $17.50. The season’s coffee-themed collection from fellow Korean brand Tee Library also featured amusing and very original java-themed graphics.
Best smelling aisle: The General Store section
Thanks to free scented candle making classes offered by Manready Mercantile and various apothecary brands also offering scented oils and fragrances, this area of the show was more about the nose than the eyes. Sweet!
Coolest and most fun onsite activity of any of the shows: Paintball Mural
Visitors got to release their aggression and help create a work of art by tossing paintballs at a giant white canvas, which looked terrific in the end. Totally original and totally fun!