By  on February 24, 2010

Premium denim brands and contemporary sportswear labels tried to build on positive momentum at Project Las Vegas.

Motorcycle-inspired looks continued to dominate, although cargo pants and jodhpurs emerged as novelties. Rockstar Sushi melded the trends for moto and military in $110 biker jeans embellished with insignia patches on the side pockets. Kill City added cargo pockets on $75 skinny jeans. William Rast offered $66 ponte riding pants accentuated with suede panels on the inseams, while Civil Smith showed its $58 ponte version with black canvas panels.

Vendors exuded positive vibes during the three-day show at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center as they unveiled their fall collections. They also catered to budget-conscious retailers seeking immediate deliveries with speed to market essential.

Project had more than 800 brands, and about 40 percent were women’s.

“It’s really not about how big you are, but how fast you are,” said Topher Gaylord, president of Seven For All Mankind, which halved to three months the time it takes from creating an idea to delivering the product to the sales floor. “To us, the most important aspects to cover this year are speed and product innovation.”

Designers updated the popular jean legging with new fabrics and details. Seven For All Mankind highlighted a $72 cargo-style legging in stretch twill. True Religion cropped its $76 denim version to hover above the ankle. AG Adriano Goldschmied blended cotton with Tencel and rayon for leggings wholesaling for $63 and $76, respectively. Seneca Rising printed a floral pattern on $58 cotton twill leggings.

Denim leggings topped the shopping list for Matthew Keegan, buyer for the contemporary boutique Love Shack in Del Ray Beach, Fla. In addition, he eyed a neutral color palette, crop tops, paillettes and dark sheer pieces for layering.

“I’m trying to keep it simple because of the economy,” he said. “No more $400 dresses anymore. If people are going to spend money on something, they want to wear it more and more — not just a dress for a night.”

Such interest in versatile dressing from Keegan and other retailers helped boost demand for Improvd’s chunky hand-knit cardigans wholesaling for $119 and $125, as well as for the $27.50 sheer navy cotton Henley from G-Star Raw’s Low T collaboration with actress Liv Tyler.

To attract retailers’ attention in a saturated market, established premium denim brands spun off new lines at Project. Kasil unveiled an ultraskinny style designed by celebrity stylist Taylor Jacobson as part of the summer launch of Kasil + Taylor Jacobson, wholesaling from $72 to $90. Rock & Republic creative director Michael Ball launched a streetwear-inspired women’s brand, RIK, with jeans retailing for between $120 and $190.

Prps also launched Prps Heirloom, a U.S.-made offshoot that costs half as much as the main line that’s produced in Japan. Wholesaling from $68 to $440, Prps Heirloom targets a wide, albeit fashion-savvy audience with leather-laced denim jodhpurs, wool Victorian jackets, leather bombers and other fashion pieces.

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