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Tommy Fazio's PROJECT Is Winning In Vegas

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(LAS VEGAS) Tommy Fazio needs very little introduction in our world, thanks to over 22 years of experience in fashion at Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf’s, and Simon Spurr under his belt. Last year, Fazio was named president of PROJECT, and since then he’s been bringing his magic to the tradeshow world. We caught up with the affable Fazio in Vegas yesterday to find out what’s new with PROJECT this season…and whether we’ll see him at the slot machines.
BY EDDIE ROCHE  

What’s new at PROJECT this season?
We’re moving forward in redefining what a trade fair is. We’re keeping it light, bright, airy and clean, and curating the best brands and areas and taking that on the main floor of PROJECT in those neighborhoods to feel better merchandised. 

What does neighborhoods mean?
I always think of this like a retailer. When I curate, say, an outerwear neighborhood, you start with your favorite four, the big four, and then you curate unexpected brands around it. Then, it becomes a neighborhood of outerwear. If a retailer sees the sign for ‘PROJECT Surf’, they know it’s surf-inspired lifestyle brands. It just makes it easier. I did this [as a retailer] for so many years, and having to go all around the world in different sections to find things was always challenging. I’m trying to make it better for the retailer and more beneficial for the brands.  

Tell us about “The Tents” at PROJECT
It’s all the brands that I feel would make up a great store one day if I had a store. I always look at this as the brands that have the best distribution, great editorial content, and the right price points. We have Tiger of Sweden and Hardy Amies launching here for the first time in the United States. Todd Snyder and Michael Bastian for Gant are back. We have Jack Spade for the first time, and some new brands that are really exciting. M5 Showroom, one of the best showrooms in New York, has launched Lardini, which is this tailored Italian clothing collection. We have Theory, Fred Perry, Vince, and more. 

The design of The Tents is also different than in the past.
This is the third edition of the tents; it was meant to bring to life what we did with the tents in Bryant Park. This year, I wanted it white and bright. We made the tent feel more inclusive this year, which I think everybody is really happy about.

Are you like the mayor in these neck of the woods?
That’s what someone just said to me! [Blows a kiss to a woman walking by.] 

What’s your schedule like?
Getting the show open is extraordinarily difficult. There are lots of moving parts involved with building this in three days. Once the show is open, all I want to do is help the retailers find the brands. I want the brand to have a good time. I do interviews, too. I just walked Liz Rodbell, the president of Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay, around the show to tell her where to find everything. It’s constant talking, all day long. The energy in here is almost overwhelming! We’ve had a lot of late nights getting it constructed, but it all pays off when everybody’s excited and having a good time.

You get impressive editors here. 
By the time the editors get here, they’ve seen everything. But what I’m learning now is that they’re coming to see it all under one roof. They enjoy it. I was talking to GQ’s Jim Moore this morning: he said it makes it pleasurable to be in one place with great brands. 

Do you hit the casinos while you’re in Vegas?
I don’t gamble! 

Gonna take in some Celine Dion?
Nope. I’ve been working until one or two in the morning. I’m hosting small dinner parties for the some of the retailers, and then I go home. I’ve been here for a week, but it’s truly a pleasure to see this all come to life. 

Sounds busy! Got any vacation plans? 
I’m going to Hawaii to go surfing on April 1st.

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