By  on August 27, 2009

To aid buyers scouring Project in Las Vegas for the perfect items to fill their stores, show founder Sam Ben-Avraham is thinking like a retailer.

With about 800 brands, split nearly evenly between men’s and women’s, spread over a trio of halls spanning 120,000 square feet at the Sands Expo & Convention Center, Ben-Avraham is focusing on what is important to shopkeepers: exclusivity and trends.

“Right now, everyone in retail is trying to differentiate themselves from their neighbors and department stores,” he said.

Ben-Avraham should know. When he’s not presiding over Project, he serves as president of New York-based specialty store Atrium. That means he sees firsthand how every business is trying to survive in a protracted economic slowdown that has not only curtailed retailers’ budgets for both purchases and travel, but also forced buyers, when they are ready to place orders, to wait as long as possible before meeting manufacturers’ deadlines. And then the retailers often opt instead to write orders for merchandise that can be delivered within a couple of months.

To entice retailers to buy for spring, Project will unveil a section, dubbed Special Cut, in which 18 exhibitors have created special pieces available only to buyers attending the three-day show that kicks off Sept. 1. L.A.M.B., Gwen Stefani’s fashion label, whipped up a towering platform pump shrouded in creamy satin, while Ever attached a hoodie to a slim moto jacket for men, and Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent added edge to a tunic vest’s feminine poppy print with a big zipper.

“This is a test that we did, and I think we definitely want to take this to the next level,” Ben- Avraham said

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