By  on January 4, 2012

The Project show continues to gain traction in New York as it rebuilds its show here, after a downturn following the recession. Over 200 brands will exhibit from Jan. 16 to 18 at 82 Mercer Street, a 20 percent bump up from last July and a 75 percent improvement from a year ago.

Andrew Pollard, president of Project, noted the show has garnered more interest from European brands that are eager to reach U.S. stores as a way to counteract battered European sales due to the continuing economic crises there. “We’ve helped connect a lot more European brands with U.S. distributors and agents. Our retail sales are actually stronger here than in Europe,” said Pollard.

Project is continuing its experimentation with the traditional trade show format, in a strategy that positions the show as more than just a platform for writing retail orders. The Made by Project initiative, for example, will host a group of artisanal brands, both fashion and nonfashion, demonstrating their craftsmanship and techniques front and center on the ground floor of the show. Martin Greenfield will hand-finish suit jackets at the show, Barbour will re-wax its iconic jackets, Oak Street Bootmakers will hand-sew boots and shoes, Victor Osborne will block and shape hats, D.S. & Durga will deconstruct scents to educate on the building blocks of fragrance and Bitter & Esters will brew specialty beer.

“The way the consumer shops has fundamentally changed and retailers have to rethink their models,” said Pollard. “It’s no longer about just offering product. You have to offer a differentiated experience and entertainment or you run the risk of becoming irrelevant.”

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Designer Todd Snyder has helped come up with the idea for a special section of Project that is merchandised like a retail store, without the usual booth walls between brands. Participants include BLK DNM, 3x1, Dita, Orlebar Brown, Black Sweater and F-68. A communal lounge and bar area is meant to heighten the community feel of the showcase.

Additionally, Project will officially host 10 bloggers as part of The Blogger Project, who will have their own dedicated space to blog and file stories from the show. Participating bloggers include The Denim Guy, Denim Therapy, Freshnessmag, HighSnobiety, Madbury Club, Marcus Troy, Por Homme, Selectism, Slamxhype, Two Inch Cuffs and William Yan.

Sandbox Studio will operate a full-scale photo studio on site. Brands can shoot products on models there and attendees can have professional portraits taken for publicity usage.

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