With more than 140,000 square feet of show floor space, Project is one of the major fashion trade shows in Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of Project.

With more than 140,000 square feet of show floor space, Project is one of the major fashion trade shows in Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of Project.


Project: Big Show Might Get Bigger

Project proved itself to be one of the big players in the fashion trade show business when it ran Feb. 17–19 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

Spanning more than 140,000 square feet with more than 400 brands, Project is a trade show where many of the big players in fashion make an appearance, said veteran fashion entrepreneur Pepper Foster, who was at the booth run by his twin brother, Chip Foster, who was showing his Chip Foster denim collection.

“This show is fantastic,” Pepper Foster said. “All of the decision makers are here.” The Foster brothers also produce a premium line called Chip & Pepper California, which is exclusive to the retailer Belk Inc.

Major apparel labels such as Levi Strauss & Co., Perry Ellis and Ralph Lauren had booths there. The show offered every type of fashion category, ranging from suiting from Ted Baker London to surf styles from Toes on the Nose, headwear from Christy’s Hats and small accessories from J. Fold. There was even a section devoted to colorful men’s fashion underwear from brands such as Andrew Christian, Timoteo and /Baskit/.

Denim remained one of the major strengths of the show, with brands such as Diesel, Hudson, Paige, True Religion and William Rast producing big booths at the show.

After surveying denim brands at Project and other Vegas shows, Alfredo Izaguirre, the buyer for West Hollywood, Calif., boutique LASC, forecasted that fashion denim commanding high price points was going to make a comeback. The heyday for expensive fashion jeans came in the years immediately preceding the Great Recession.

At Project and some of the neighboring shows, retail prices asked for some fashion denim pieces were more than $250. “People are ready for it,” Izaguirre said of higher-priced denim. At his store, people showing price resistance to fashion denim with higher price tags has been declining recently, he said.

A comeback for high-priced fashion jeans could represent a return to pre-recession merchandising for LASC. Before 2009, expensive fashion denim comprised 30 percent of LASC’s sales, Izaguirre said. Post-recession, sales of expensive jeans only make up 10 percent of the boutique’s sales.

During Project, show directors produced mini-areas such as men’s grooming area Project Groom X Nylon Guys and its #Bloggerproject, which gave a platform for illustrators, stylists and photographers making appearances at Project.

If Project seemed big on its most recent run, it may get bigger, said Lara Osment, the show’s director. The Mandalay Bay is building new space for its convention center. If construction is completed before August, when the next Project show is scheduled to take place, the show will be able to offer more real estate to vendors as well as “retailer initiatives,” Osment said.