PROJECT: Get The 411 On One Of Fashion’s Biggest Trade Shows

Susie G

Coterie, Capsule, ENK, MAGIC, PROJECTif you follow the fashion industry biz, these names mean something more than just possible nom de plumes for your imaginary, adult contemporary rock band.

These are the names of fashion trade shows, where brands, labels and designers show off their samples from recent and upcoming collections, all in the convience of one location.

One of the most important trade shows in the industry at the moment is PROJECT, which is held bi-annually in both Las Vegas and New York City. PROJECT strives to show a wide array of fashions from established, internationally recognizable brands like Dr. Martens and G-Star Raw, to smaller brand names that are out on the convention floor with their first-ever collection.

Fashion buyers from all over the world, including Japan, Israel and the United Kingdom, attend PROJECT to see some of the best offerings from all over the United States (think mostly New York and Los Angeles), as well as even a handful of fashions all the way from Australia, Mexico, Korea and a few other spots abroad.

Last week, the PROJECT trade show headed back to Las Vegas to set up camp once again at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center for three days. While you may think that three days might be enough to see all of PROJECT, it definitely is indeed not.

With all of the lines and collections to see at the hundreds of booths set up on the floor, it’s really easy to loose track of time.

Thanks to never letting my iPhone be separated with my left hand, and being on top of emails and text messages, I got to get a few minutes to speak with the super busy President of PROJECT, Andrew Pollard.

Andrew is pretty much a branding OG in the world of fashion, who was working and leading the way for labels like Diesel, Miss Sixty and Kiki De Montparnasse a few years back.

I spoke with Andrew and wanted to find out straight from the source why PROJECT is an important industry event, what are some of the highlights that make it stand out from other trade shows and learn about the strong relationship PROJECT has with the online media community.

What does PROJECT offer that other trade shows can’t, and tell us about the show’s impact on the fashion and retail communities?

“Well, let me take a step back in terms of why PROJECT does exist. The goal for me is to create a vision of being an industry steward, which means to provide value to this great industrythe fashion industry.”

“Everything that we do is about making decisions through that filter. We wanted to create a community and create an environment that stimulates innovation and ultimately stimulates commerce.

Today, you have to have a point of view. You have to give people values, so the end consumer is looking for value.

They’re looking for a quality and a price that is unison with each other. They’re also looking for a point of view of a brand.

So, what is the story behind how that product was made? The story behind the fabrications? What are the values of the company? What are the social values? The environmental values of that company? Where is the inspiration for the collection, the piece? Where does it come from? It’s all about putting those elements together into a story to communicate to the end consumer.

How does that relate to Project? It’s the same thing.

We’re a marketplace. So, a marketplace where we bring the most influential retailers, brands, press and manufacturers from around the world, brought into one place for three days.

An opportunity to come together to, again, inspire each other, share stories, share information, expose new techniques, new ideas, new designers and really be one.

159359 1329843925 PROJECT: Get The 411 On One Of Fashions Biggest Trade Shows

Andrew Pollard

With PROJECT Wooster, for instance, is ‘Wow, that’s really beautiful. What is that?’ They come inside and obviously there’s beautiful product, it’s merchandised in a very eloquent way, great furniture, and what does that do?

It evokes an emotional response. It feels good. It’s just, ‘Ah, it feels good in here.’ You just want to buy stuff. When you feel good emotionally…it encourages you more to go out and say, ‘I want to buy that. ‘ So, take that same feeling to a retail store, whether it’s online or bricks and mortar.

Our goal is so retailers can walk in here and say, ‘What can I do in my store? What can I take from this environment, relate it to my own store that can help me sell more product, be more successful?’ A brand can walk in here and say, ‘What can I do with my brand? You know, how… what techniques? What elements are here? How do I merchandise my own booth to stimulate an emotional connection to a buyer that would buy more as well?’

It goes back to what I said at the beginning, being an industry stewardI’m doing what’s best for the industry. This moves the industry along in a positive and creative way.”

Photo via Marcus Troy

I think you already kind of touched a little bit on some of your highlights this time around at PROJECT. Was there anything specific this week that you were looking forward to and really excited about?

“Well, obviously PROJECT Wooster was the biggest thing for us. It was the second edition. Really last time, it was more of a gallery instillation. This time, was really more of a…true retail store. Although people can’t buy anything, it feels like a retail store. So I’m really proud of this.

The other elements that have really evolved is anything that we’ve done in the world of technology. From the photographic studio to the bloggers station to all the different partners and initiatives that we have throughout the show that educate people.

The consumer is driven by technology and wants convenience. Though, as a brand, as a retailer, you have to think differently.

How do you communicate to them? And ton of the major ways [to do this] is through a technology platform, which is what we have here. So I’m really excited by the evolution of those initiatives.”

159368 1329845227 PROJECT: Get The 411 On One Of Fashions Biggest Trade Shows

Since Project Wooster’s mainly set up for the men’s market, do you think you’ll ever do something similar like Project Wooster but teaming up with another influencer in the womenswear world?

“Absolutely. Womenswear is the next generation for us. It’s the next growth area. And not only women’s, but in the street world.”

Why are bloggers important to PROJECT and why are you so keen on working with bloggers as opposed to maybe, you know, doing those same kind of media initiatives with members of the traditional press?

“Bloggers for me, from the very beginning, were one of the key elements in transforming this marketplace.”

“A trade show should be what retail looks like in the coming seasons. But, really, most trade shows around the world…it looks like what retail was in the coming seasons ago.

How do you know what’s coming? Go to the consumer.

You have to have a daily communication with the consumer, and you have to understand the culture and what is happening in culture. Traditional media doesn’t have that immediate connection with culture.

It has it on a weekly or a monthly basis. The bloggers have a really unique position in their culture today because it’s so immediate. It’s happening all the time and they’re reporting it, communicating in the present moment.

We wanted to bring them in, and I’m not saying traditional media is not important, it is. It’s like, traditional bricks and mortar as opposed to e-commercethey’re both as important as each other and they’re going to integrate, which is what’s happening with print, digital and press.

159370 1329845366 PROJECT: Get The 411 On One Of Fashions Biggest Trade Shows

Blogger PROJECT’s Hana May from hearty Magazine

What we’ve learned from the bloggers is, the bloggers are the next buyers. They are seeing things, they’re reporting on things, and all of them are creating their own stores.

They don’t have their own physical stores, but they’re all driving traffic to brand stores and that’s where they actually make some of their money.

They need to be seeing what’s happening, what’s coming up in fashion and what do they like to report on, which becomes part of their income.

What’s so wonderful about bloggers is that it’s an organic relationship. We are working side-by-side and finding out ways of helping each other and I don’t even think we’ve even discovered what is possible for the future of that relationship.”