LAS VEGAS — Despite its focus on cutting-edge trends in contemporary sportswear and premium denim, Project isn't immune to the vagaries of the economy.

Most of the 1,210 men's, women's and accessories vendors presented fall collections at the three-day show that ended here Friday, but several appealed to retailers who demanded immediate deliveries because they couldn't forecast too far ahead.

"Everyone is really careful with their dollars," said Colleen Phelan, a representative for New York's Saja, which exhibited summer and pre-fall collections. "If they have any extra, they pick up immediates."

Sabrina McMillian, a sales representative for premium denim line Frankie B., said, "Everyone is being price-conscious." Demand for lower prices spurred the Los Angeles company to introduce a secondary line called Frankie B. Originals for fall with wholesale prices of $59 to $69.

The mood also influenced designers' palettes, awash in gunmetal, white and black. Bright hues such as red and purple were muted through overdyeing or, in the case of Levi's latest collaboration with artist Damien Hirst, using ink-jet to print washed-out patterns of paint splatters, butterfly wings and dots.

In denim, buyers sought straight-leg jeans from Deener, trousers with braided back pockets from Kasil and skinny legs that have been double-dyed in indigo and black from Evisu.

Responding to customers' request for distressed denim, Natassha Trinh, women's denim buyer for Houston's Jeans Couture, checked out the jeans from AG Adriano Goldschmied. "I'm shocked that they want distressed," Trinh said. "It came out of nowhere."

Denim companies tested other fabrics, as seen in red leather motorcycle jackets with braided epaulets at William Rast, corduroy pants with an opalescent shine at AG Adriano Goldschmied, oversize wool vests at Level 99 and brown herringbone skirt suits at Joe's Jeans.

Sweaters continued their momentum. Popular styles included Industry's pointelle cardigans with bow ties, Original Penguin's angora-wool sweater dresses and boyfriend cardigans from Modern Amusement's new women's line.

Dresses sold well for Los Angeles' Edie France, which updated the trapeze in leopard-print cotton gauze, and England's Ringspun, which printed Mod-inspired patterns on tunic dresses.

After completing its three-year licensing deal with Skechers, Los Angeles retailer Kitson introduced an apparel line called Kitson LA, produced by Seven7 Licensing Co. Among the offerings were $45 pleated shortalls and $79.50 French terry military jackets.If American buyers are too skittish to open up their wallets, "I've got the rest of the world to capture," said Kitson owner Fraser Ross.

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