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Project returns to New York this month, following a season absent from the trade show calendar. The revamped show is smaller and more focused than in past seasons — with about 100 brands participating — and organizers are trumpeting new features, such as a pop-up retail store on the show floor.
“We wanted to take a step back and return to our heritage and roots,” said Andrew Pollard, who was tapped as Project’s president in June, succeeding the show’s founder, Sam Ben-Avraham. “It’s less about the hype and more about the experience. Because we have such a big show in Las Vegas, it allows us to do something a bit more interesting and creative in New York. We are taking Project in a new direction and the whole platform is meant to really rethink what a collective trade show experience is.”
Project, which is operated by Advanstar Communications, also is planning to launch an ancillary online trade show at the end of next month. The site will allow vendors and buyers to work year-round with each other. “We want to transform this business into a 365-day-a-year platform,” said Pollard, who declined to divulge further details on the initiative. “It’s going to be a big undertaking.”
The New York show will be staged Jan. 16 to 18 in a loft space at 82 Mercer Street, and it rejoins a slew of competitors, including ENK NYC, Capsule, MRket/Vanguard and Agenda. Pollard is aiming to capture a narrower band of labels than when Project used to host several hundred brands at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
“We are really focusing on the advanced contemporary market and these brands are seeking a more intimate venue,” explained Pollard. Those brands include Nudie, Spurr, Genetic Denim, Woolrich John Rich & Bros., Halston Heritage and G-Star.
Pollard added his aim is to replicate the best aspects of a retail experience and translate that to the trade show. To that end, the new pop-up store will sell eclectic boutique products that are exclusively made in New York. Buyers will be able to purchase items for themselves on the spot — or place orders for delivery to their stores at a later date.
Participating vendors in the “Made in New York” shop include jewelry maker Black Sheep & Prodigal Sons, Bowery Lane Bicycles, Silver Lining Opticians, David Hart & Co. neckwear, Ernest Alexander bags, Sarah Cihat home products, Joya fragrances and Windowfarms hydroponic gardening systems.
Project will showcase its first-ever brand development initiative with a new line from streetwear brand DRx and Japan’s The Real McCoys that is based on the iconic Beetle Bailey cartoon, licensed from King Features Syndicate. Mort Walker, the 87-year-old creator of the cartoon, will make a personal appearance at the show.
“We worked closely with Andrew Pollard on evolving this line and he helped add ideas and further develop the collection,” said Darren Romanelli, founder of DRx. The collection includes military-inspired designs such as M65 and G1 jackets incorporating Beetle Bailey graphics ($300 to $500 at retail), T-shirts ($100) and khaki pants ($250), as well as a more limited line of items fashioned from vintage military garments ($500 to $1,000).