Congratulations on your newish gig, which kicked off circa October. What’s your plan with Project?
I came into this role with a retailer’s head. I looked at the trade show business to figure out how to make [trade shows] easier for someone like me. I once had to run around New York looking at all the trade shows, after running around New York looking at collections! One of the key initiatives was to acquire ENK and mold together two comprehensive, men’s contemporary businesses. It allows a buyer to come to one location for three days to shop the most extensive menswear brands in the industry in a really fun, cool, and compelling way.
Given your luxury background, will you be bringing in luxe designers?
We are launching a new show in Las Vegas in February called The Tents at Project, which is an elevated and high tech experience that showcases brands like Billy Reid, Michael Bastian, Todd Snyder, Carlos Campos, Robert Geller, Ian Velardi, and Raleigh Denim. Brands like that were never at Project before; some have never even been to a tradeshow before.
You’re inviting some of the cool kids to the party…
Yes, I’m not doing this alone! As soon as I got the job, everybody knew I was going to want them to do something. My first thing out of the gate was figuring out how to take Vegas, the biggest platform in the world to show clothes, and add the designers. My entire career has not only been about launching and elevating young talent, but launching some of the biggest designers in the world. After so many years in the industry, you learn what your true passion is. Mine was helping these guys be better in New York, Europe and Japan.
Where’s the show in Las Vegas going to be?
The Mandalay Bay. I’m building a very extensive tent in the parking lot of the convention center there.
Has Project been one of your biggest challenges of your career?
So far! It’s a different type of challenge. I’ve had some challenges in my career, but this one has been rewarding. The measure of success is how happy the brands and the retailers are. The happier you can make them, the more successful you are.
Why did you bring the show to Pier 92 this year?
The venue is larger because we’re housing both shows in one place now. There’s a novelty about Pier 92: having sunlight at a tradeshow. You can tell people are so happy with the venue because there’s sunlight! I love the Piers. Piers 92 and 94 are great future venues to do fashion shows, too.
What are the big changes?
It’s cleaning up the way tradeshows do business. Sometimes you go into them and it’s like Vegas. Blinking lights and dancing girls! I’m trying to strip away all that chaos and focus on the communication and commerce of the business. It’s not about how big your booth is or how bright your lights can be.
Do you want to become the American version of Pitti Uomo?
I don’t like to compare because there’s never going to be another version of Pitti.
What’s it like working with Tom Florio?
Awesome! I’ve known him for a long time. He comes from a publishing and marketing world, so any idea that I have he can articulate how to market and execute it, which is awesome.
You sound very happy!
I’m really energized right now because everyone has been so happy and complementary about the changes we’ve made to the show. It’s a super high.