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PROJECT Mens N:OW shakes up the trade show experience

By Jackie Mallon

Jan 21, 2019

Coming off a Las Vegas launch, N:OW at PROJECT has injected a vibrant international energy to the NYC trade show this time round. The show which traditionally positions like-minded brands into “neighborhoods” under one roof––The Tents, a range of elevated contemporary labels, The Foundry for refined apparel and grooming, Blue for premium denim, PROJECT Sole for footwear––unveils new addition N:OW which has an altogether buzzier atmosphere. Publisher Taschen has taken a front booth, and as if to set the tone, “The Ultimate Sneaker Book” is on display on its desk; across the aisle an artist at work at his easel riffs on the brand colors of Champion while the hip-hop music drowns out the voices of vendors illustrating the finer points of pleated pants and tweed blazers in the nearby neighborhoods. The N:OW press release explains that the brands have been selected from the U.S. and around the world because they are “pushing the culture forward while remaining commercially viable.”

For what this means exactly, FashionUnited speaks to Jason Peskin, the brand director of Mens fashion for UBM, and the brains behind N:OW.

What did you hope to add to the PROJECT Mens experience with N:OW?

We were looking to evolve the trade show into something new. It’s been the same way for 80-100 years but, in the digital age, brands and attendees now have many more ways to connect and so we have to be intelligent about how we put our shows together. It can’t just be a row of booths, it’s got to be a must-attend event, something exciting, that gives added value for brand and attendee. This is the birth of that. We’re getting started with content programming from WGSN and High Snobiety, extended media coverage, food and beverages which are simple things, the latest technology LED wall for content display, panels with amazing speakers that can both enhance the culture and educate, and an open booth communal vibe––we’ve brought the walls down. We want to breathe new life into the trade show experience, to shake things up.

What is the philosophy that unites the brands you’ve selected?

The two main words are “culturally relevant” so not one category but menswear that is of the moment, that’s happening right now. It could be a brand that’s just coming out that we think is critical to menswear next to a brand like Champion which has been around for 100 years but have made themselves relevant again because of their collaborations and cool things they’re doing. Or a new brand like The Rad Black Kids which is just a guy with a dream who has his own perspective. It’s as much about the people behind the brands as it is about the clothes.

What the brands are saying at N:OW

We talk to a few of the brands showing for the first time at PROJECT New York under the banner N:OW about their experience and hopes for the New York show.

Peter Bueno, from multi brand showroom Aesthetic Agency who is at PROJECT representing X Large from Japan, says, “As brand architect I do sales and marketing for the brand and visually forecast brand strategy. We are relaunching the brand in the U.S. so our focus is getting into the right doors wholesale, and marketing. We’re in a lot of skate retail and high end streetwear doors such as King Sport shop and Ubiq in Philadelphia.”

Chris Cooper, from Brixton who is responsible for Sales in the North East/Mid Atlantic territory says, “N:OW highlights more emerging and youthful brands and our approach at Brixton is a streetwear sensibility coming from surf and skate and active, it’s a lifestyle which we live and breathe.” If he is worried about the return of tailoring all over the Fall 19 runways, Cooper is not showing it. “Tailoring ebbs and wains into streetwear too,” he says. “Fits while relaxed on the bottom have become more tailored on top. We’re working within that approach.” The brand also showed at Vegas, but Cooper says, “We’re excited be here in New York and to be given this opportunity. It’s a great audience for our brand, we have a very loyal following here.”

Heath Morrison, director of The People Vs has arrived from Australia to occupy his booth which is collaged with 90s music memorabilia, a major source of inspiration for the Sydney-based brand. “This is our international debut, bringing the brand to the States," he explains. “Our whole concept is vintage-inspired streetwear, both men’s and women, and we make a lot of unisex but with a real focus on fashion, fit, and feel.” The People Vs will follow up with a men’s showing in PROJECT Las Vegas and then Coterie in NYC for the women’s, hoping to attract a mixture of larger retailers and boutiques. “Our goal is really about showcasing our Australian talent here in America the best we can. We already work with partners Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, and Luisa Via Roma from Europe so this is a great opportunity for further exposure with likeminded brands. We want to work with the best premium retailers around the world and to make sure our partnerships are solid.”

PROJECT Mens runs at the Javits Center from January 20-22.

Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry.

Images: FashionUnited