A Practice in Sustainability at Pool


Free Reign booth at Pool

Delivering on its usual promise of independent lines and unique pieces, Pool offered alternatives to the mainstream brands that exhibited in other areas. The show included collaborations by Next Level Apparel with AKA at a live screen-printing booth and a custom-pocket-tee session by QMULATIVE. Next Level Apparel’s live screen-printing initiative also commemorated the introduction of its Made in America collection.

Throughout the space at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, different brands shared stories regarding how they support initiatives that ranged from social to political. Yet, many companies were focused on a common issue—sustainable manufacturing and sourcing in fashion.

“This is our very first time showing, so we really didn’t know what to expect, but I am very pleasantly surprised at the reaction to not only eco fashion but also the fact that it is ethical and socially conscious,” said Melanie Pederson, owner and designer at Free Reign, a line of easy unisex basics and accessories for adults and children.

The only drawback that Pederson noticed was that her brand didn’t fit into every price point, but as a line that didn’t fall within the fast-fashion category, she didn’t mind this position in a certain niche. Walking through the aisles, attendees wanted to know more about the inspiration that drove designers to launch their lines.

“I think it’s so interesting to find out what is behind a brand,” said Marcia Meyer, founder and chief executive officer of The Be Kind People Project. “People can do it just for other reasons, and I found, over the years, when someone has a unified social stance that is not the sort of thing that comes from ‘Oh, let’s make a bundle of money.’ There is something behind it.”

Representatives for the sustainable brands at Pool welcomed opportunities to discuss how their pieces were different from the fast-fashion that has dominated the market for many years. These brands also used the show as a platform to introduce company expansion into new lines.

“We really wanted to reach out to the right buyers when we expanded our menswear line and ball-cap line, so we decided to come back and launch that here at Pool,” explained Jacob Wollner, operations director of Flipside Hats, which uses reclaimed fabric to manufacture its pieces. “The market has been somewhat conservative but very optimistic, and people are putting pen down and writing orders.”

The show closed with the announcement of the “Best Booth Merchandising Award” winners, who will receive a complimentary booth at the August show. It was awarded to leatherworkers Made in Mayhem and jewelry maker We Are All Smith, which shared one space.