TRAIPSING THROUGH THE TRADE SHOWS:
Our Picks From Project NY
January 17, 2012
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It's Men's Trade Show week in New York again. While the European designers have been sending their Fall 2012 collections down the runways of Milan, American retailers have been checking out the goods at the popular Project and Capsule trade shows. Today, The Shophound hit Project, which turned up some more exciting surprises than we usually find there. We had always found it to be the more mainstream of the two, but probably due to participation of men's style guru and general internet fashion icon, Nick Wooster who now acts as the show's creative adviser, and probably has a lot to do with a lot of the smaller more exclusive designers who have been added to the roster. His collaboration with luxury swimwear brand Orlebar Brown is pictured above, and marks the first time we know of that Wooster has leveraged his internet fame as a brand name. We're pretty sure it won't be the last.
BEST ACCESSORY RELAUNCH: GHURKA
Our first stop was a visit to the folks at Ghurka, where the much loved brand is undergoing an invigoration thanks to a new owner and a new creative director, Steven La Guardia. We visited the new store in midtown last week, and we continue to be impressed by how the new team is bringing the accessory brand back to its roots while moving it into the future. Familiar, classic styles in new fabrics and colors looked refreshed, while newer groups of softer, lighter weight bags pointed to a younger look to attract new customers.
MOST CHARMING HERITAGE COLLECTION: DICKIES 1922
In the past year, the "Heritage" movement of reviving much-loved but dormant or simply off-track American companies has reached a fever pitch, but our favorite remains the Dickies 1922 collection which we discovered at its debut a year ago. A new denim western shirt with simple ring-topped snaps looks like a modern minimalist take on a classic, but Dickie's charming rep Ann Richardson explained that it was replicated exactly from their archives in Texas as she walked us through a beautifully photographed lookbook shot by friends of the company in their longtime headquarters. The disarming combination of pride the product and a deceptively canny curatorial sense continues to make Dickies one of our favorite booths to visit at Project.
FAVORITE DOWN JACKET & SNEAKERS: ADIDAS SLVR
There is obviously a lot of outerwear at these shows, and tons of down, but out favorite pieces were this jacket and vest from Adidas SLVR, the athletic shoe giant's line for people who care nothing about athletics. The bronze, mottled nylon fabric tailored with a slight military touch looked like nothing that anyone else had to offer, and worth waiting until the Fall to pick up. As for sneakers, another thing that there's no shortage of at these show, out eye spotted an olive green high-top with metallic detail that conflated sneakers with just a touch of hiking boot and a dash of disco. Bravo!
BEST NON-DOWN COAT: TODD SNYDER
The J.Crew alum who made a big splash at retail this past fall with his debut collection moved over from project with an impressively expanded collection that now includes an extensive collaboration with Southwick for tailored suits and dress shirts and London's Tricker's for shoes. The Shophound fell in love with this camel-colored shearling version of a military jacket that begs for a blizzard. Happily, Snyder's collection has gotten more tailored and sophisticated, gaining some more welcome distance from the look of his previous employer.
MOST INTRIGUING BACKSTORY: BLACK SWEATER
In the small but focused category, documentary filmaker and Band-Aid scion Jamie Johnson brought his collection of tailored clothing, shirts and sweaters to the show for the first time this season. While a pharmceutical heir working on his second career might raise an eyebrow, selling the line at Bergdorf Goodman and Ron Herman gives him some real credibility, and we were impressed with the classic shapes and military details Johnson combines in his meticulously tailored line. The Black Sweater namesake is based on a story of a socialite who would send a black sweater to someone as a signal that they had been ostracized and should steer clear of the country club. Johnson's sweaters are the only ones we have seen that are actually made in the U.S., and he remains committed to prioritizing quality and construction over rapid expansion. We look forward to seeing more.
FAVORITE DEBUT: RHETT BONNETT
We can't tell you who is selling Rhett Bonnett's collection because he doesn't know yet, but we can guess which stores will be competing to launch his tightly edited collection of sportswear made in New York exclusively of innovative Japanes fabrics. We loved a crisp navy jacket with a drawstring waist, and a pair of gray tweed pants that looked like scratchy wool but turned out to be cotton as soft as a pair of pajamas. We are expecting big things from him in the future.
BEST BAGS: HERSCHEL SUPPLY CO.
We couldn't miss this relatively new brand's smart set of desert camouflage printed luggage, a surefire winner in a season where camouflage prints flirt with overexposure, but we almost walked right by the bright group of rugby striped backpacks, totes and duffels, a design idea so simple that we can't believe we hadn't seen it executed this well before. They proved that the simplest concepts invariably make the most appealing products.
TOMORROW, A LOOK AT CAPSULE