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Capsule Lures Streetwear, Independent Labels

The Capsule show almost tripled in size in its second outing in Las Vegas, featuring 110 brands, compared with 40 in February.

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The Capsule show almost tripled in size in its second outing in Las Vegas, featuring 110 brands, compared with 40 in February.

This story first appeared in the September 10, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The show, which also stages editions in New York and Paris, specializes in progressive streetwear and independent designer labels that cater to upscale boutiques.

“A lot of these brands would not normally come to Vegas, as they would see accounts in New York or Paris,” said Chris Corrado, Capsule show director and sales director at New York’s BPMW showroom, which operates the show. “Las Vegas has been dominated by large shows with wider audiences, whereas these brands are focused on a more specialized audience.”

Capsule likely benefited by moving from the Wynn Hotel to a ballroom in the Venetian Hotel, which is in the same complex as the Project show.

Established European brands such as Acne, which showcased its Pop Classics line of casual, accessibly priced basics, mixed with young designer collections like Timo Weiland and streetwear labels such as Ten Deep and The Hundreds. Footwear maker Mark McNairy evolved his business into shirts, ties and boxer shorts, while Alabama-based Billy Reid, which has focused on growing its own network of retail stores, was pushing a new wholesale collection.

Like at the other Vegas shows, credit issues were a major topic. “The biggest issue for these independent brands and retailers is whether people can get credit approved and whether brands can work with retailers who have special credit needs,” noted Corrado.

At the BPMW showroom, which reps brands including Shades of Greige, Stüssy, Staple Design, Endovanera and Penfield, sales reps were asking stores for credit card orders, C.O.D. payments or working out house credit terms for retailers with good payment histories.

Credit issues aside, Shades of Greige was offering tailored suits that retailed for about $275. Also in the directional collection were fleece hoodies adorned with motorcycle jacket-style zippers, Seventies-style corduroy shorts and batik-print shirts. “I think people are getting a little tired of plaid,” said the label’s founder and designer, Micah Cohen, of the vividly patterned wovens.

The Archetype Showroom booths showcased several trend-leading brands, including April 77 and YMC. At the former, a range of jean jackets retailed from $160 for basic, slim-fit styles to as much as $700 for selvage models with intense washes. A snappy line of footwear was the strongest-selling category for YMC, an English brand, which also offered a new line called YMC Basic — lower-price jackets and perforated cotton sweaters.

At Public School, designer Dao-Yi Chow, who also serves as creative director at Sean John, showed off lighter-weight fabrics in a collection that has been known for heavy leathers and chunky jersey tops.

A 16-gauge cotton cardigan was sheer in places, but the fabric was doubled up for opacity in certain areas. In an adjacent booth, Chow featured a lower-price line called Black Apple, which started as a project for Urban Outfitters stores. With fake leather jackets retailing for $150, the brand gives buyers the Public School look at a much lower price.

BBlessing also highlighted a secondary line inspired by its collection but interpreted at more accessible prices. A lightweight chambray pullover, cotton poplin suit with shorts and nylon parka were among the offerings.

Orslow, a Japanese denim company whose name is a portmanteau of “originality” and “slow,” used a Fifties process of weaving fabric and sewing to create designs authentic to that era, including selvedge denim jeans, washed chambray shirts and khakis.

Possibly the most unusual designer story involved Hyden Yoo, a University of Chicago biology grad who started his eponymous label with $50,000 won on the television show “Fear Factor” in 2002. The collection offered a sophisticated, style-savvy lineup of khaki blazers, French terry shorts and shawl-collar sweaters for spring.

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