Merchandising by Lifestyle at Liberty Fairs, Capsule and Project Las Vegas
The umbrella of MAGIC trade shows is one of the largest global marketplaces for fashion taking place in Las Vegas twice a year. Thousands of brands from every fashion market imaginable are broken up into several shows: juniors, women’s contemporary, footwear, traditional men’s clothing, and resort.
Project, the contemporary fashion tentacle of MAGIC, attempts to make sense out of the hundreds of brands as far as the eye can see within the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. During the August 18-20 run of the show for Spring 2015 collections, there was a new grooming and apothecary section, a denim section, “Project Surf” for casual apparel, and The Tents curated men’s section. The palette is sterile and white, and it feels like walking through the biggest department store ever.
Project’s gargantuan size has pros and cons. Kohl Crecelius of Krochet Kids said Project is the best show to reach the largest range of buyers, not limited to any one subculture. “This is our best show. So many people are converging in Vegas: international buyers, boutiques, action sports. There’s so much happening, we get to benefit a lot from it,” Crecelius said. Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters and United Arrows Japan were a few of the stores that shopped Project.
Sanuk found Project to be the best platform for connecting with its wide customer base outside of the endemic surf sphere. So did Teva, who showed fashion lifestyle boutiques, Japanese, and Canadian buyers an edited selection of the Teva originals line of classic sandals.
Tim Swart of surf lifestyle shop UNIV in Encinitas, Calif. said that he was “in good company” to be a few aisles over from established and well-respected denim brands. “Project attracts a lot of the upper level stores in terms of image,” said Swart, who showed UNIV limited run jeans, shirts, boardshorts, and bags. On the flip side, a true gem of a brand could easily get lost amongst the heavy bold-faced name competition.
For the specialty store customer that prefers Main Street shopping over the mall, Liberty Fairs, Agenda Las Vegas and Capsule held at the Sands Expo are the answer to an edited browsing experience. The three shows each had its own distinct look and feel in separate spaces, and buyers could walk through connecting corridors between the shows. In these forums, buyers arrive with clear aesthetic visions and seek out brands with unique points of difference against the mainstream grain.
“The customer here is into discovery. They want something special. They love this forum. It’s a great place for that,” said Steven Tiller, SeaVees CEO and chief designer of Liberty Fair’s curated marketplace.
The brands considered the highest price point at traditional endemic surf shops were a friendly opening price point for the contemporary boutiques at Liberty Fairs that wanted a piece of the authentic California surf lifestyle. Raen eyewear connected with respected Swedish outdoor brand Fjallraven to be carried in its flagship store and also met with several European surf boutiques. At Liberty, Katin connected with Stag, a top tier heritage-type store in Austin, TX. Quiksilver Originals showed revived versions of the brand’s vintage trunks in progressive 15” and 18” outseams to Need Supply Co. and The Four Seasons.
Liberty was the place for denim and heritage type brands. Amongst denim aficionado-approved brands such as Levi’s Made and Crafted, Rising Sun Jeans, Imogene and Willie, and Nudie Jeans were young start-ups similar to San Juan Capistrano-based Freenote denim, which offers domestically made selvage jeans and classic woven shirting for the casual young professional.
Capsule is already a fraction of the size of Liberty, but segmented its own show even further into niche groupings such as Above the Tree Line for stylish technical gear, Sundries for extra accoutrements like print magazines and apothecary items, and a No Brainer Gallery of curated cash and carry vintage that was like a cool flea market.
“The buyer comes, they have direction, they know who their customer is. They’re here to get shit done,” said Dustin Odbert, who showed AMBSN’s new recycled poly board shorts to top tier accounts such as Barney’s Japan and Nordstrom at Capsule.
At Capsule, OurCaste expanded upon the success of its technical shorts from last year that dudes can wear to the gym and at the beach. “Stylistically our tech function component and fresh approach is what’s separating us,” said Matthew Davis of OurCaste. Welded pockets and hidden zippers keep the exterior of shorts looking clean and minimal, yet still functional to hold keys and a wallet.
Made in the U.S.A had high importance at Capsule. Broken Homme boots debuted a new slip-on shoe and introduced that its boots will be made in Los Angeles, the brand’s homebase. Beachy brands Almond Surfboards and Aloha Sunday also touted that its goods were made in America.