Yesterday PROJECT Las Vegas kicked off what marks the final stop along the Fall 2012 menswear retail trade show calendar. What was once an after-thought presentation of little known brands has become a must-stop for editors, retailers, and apparently celebrities, with Pharrell Williams making a surprise appearance yesterday. At the helm of PROJECT is the always energetic and buttoned-up Andrew Pollard, who, in just a few short years since taking over, has made PROJECT a creative force in the industry and launching pad for emerging brands. I spoke to him about his vision, the resurgence, and what brands we should be looking out for.
First off what are a few of the brands that are showing at Project that we may not know of yet but will be hearing a lot of in the future?
I’d say look out for Comune, Presidents, Insubordinate Lads, Johnny Love, Simon Miller, Wolsey, Number: Lab, Volta and TheMADLEY.
Tell me in a broad sense what PROJECT is and why it’s important.
PROJECT is a connection point between the world’s most influential fashion brands, retailers, media and manufactures. It has traditionally been a physical event that facilitates industry transactions, but now it is evolving into an organic marketplace that supports a modern and exciting industry 365 days a year. We see ourselves as an industry steward with a responsibility to evolve the way our industry conducts business by promoting creativity to support commerce.
What has your strategy been in re-invigorating a brand that was recently a bit of an afterthought compared to other major retail trade shows?
Over the past three seasons PROJECT has evolved into a marketplace that encourages innovation, supports new talent, educates the industry and embraces a socially responsible attitude. PROJECT has transformed into a strong, creative community that has a single vision of providing value. By valuing authenticity, diversity and craftsmanship we have managed to bring a new sense of excitement into the event experience.
How do you decide which brands are right for Project?
Our goal is to merchandise our floor like the most compelling retail store in the world. Our merchandising team makes sure that our brands are positioned with like brands so that retailers can easily navigate the shows, but always adding something unexpected to stimulate curiosity.
At PROJECT we encourage creative ways of displaying products, to tell a story through the various brand environments so retailers can actually see product merchandised in a relevant way. We are committed to continually elevating the show experience by showcasing outstanding brands and notable installations, in a creative and authentic way.
There is a lot of life in Project. How important are the collaborations to its success? In particular last year’s Project Wooster, this years Blogger Project , Sandbox Studio, etc?
At PROJECT it’s about brand communication, connections, and people. It’s amazing what happens when people come together for a common goal. Our platform encourages brands to partner with retailers, bloggers and press in order to create those “one of a kind” experiences.
This season PROJECT Wooster, a curated experience in collaboration with my good friend and internet phenomenon, Nick Wooster, is back with a roster of brands that will blow the US market away. Our vision for this season’s WOOSTER is to celebrate traditional techniques and values in a modern and relevant way. Japanese designers have embraced this approach for years and we are excited to present some of these exciting and influential brands in one place at one time.