While at PROJECT Las Vegas last week we caught up with style icon Nick Wooster, the ex-Men’s Fashion Director of Neiman Marcus Group Services and current Fashion Advisor at Gilt Group. Curating his own section at the PROJECT tradeshow conveniently called PROJECT Wooster, we spoke to the fashion connoisseur about what went into his private section of the show, why his platform was highly Japanese based and what went into his recent collaborations for Fall/Winter 2012.

Japanese brands from PROJECT Wooster included: Rocky Mountain Featherbed (Japan), TO KI TO (Japan), Kapital (Japan), Mando (Japan), Monitaly (US-based but Japanese designer), Yuketen (US-based but Japanese designer), AR (Aloha Rag) (US-based but Japanese owned), Nepenthes (Japan), NEXUSVII (Japan), T Suzuki for Boglioli (Japan), ts(s) (Japan), United Arrows (Japan), Kapital (Japan), Post Overalls (Japan) and Visvim (Japan).

Other brands from PROJECT Wooster included: Arc’teryx Veilance (Canada), Aspesi (Italy), Blackman Cruz (USA), Boglioli (Italy), Duvetica (Italy), Esemplare (Italy), Grenson (UK), Herno (Italy), Holden (USA), J. Augur Designs (USA), John Smedley (UK), Julian Boots (USA), Maharishi (UK), Nigel Cabourn for Eddie Bauer (UK), RTH (USA), Tricker’s (UK) and Vanities (France).

Collaborations with Nick Wooster for Fall/Winter 2012 included: Drumohr, Orlebar Brown, The White Briefs, WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie, Drx Romanelli, Hamilton 1883, Leffot, Globe-Trotter and Parabellum.

SlamXHype / What’s the main point of PROJECT Wooster and what do you hope to get across?

Nick Wooster / PROJECT Wooster a season ago Andrew asked me to come and give my point of view of menswear, and it was really about bringing brands together in a way that most stores probably don’t even put things together and to sort of create a store event within the tradeshow. Last season we focused on tailored and brands that weren’t necessarily going to be in a tradeshow format. This season when he asked me to come back I said the first thing we have to do is go to Tokyo, because to me the things that are happening there are so beyond inspiring. If you’re a shopper, like I’m a shopper, your head explodes. What that is about is that total infatuation with product, the Japanese culture is so obsessed with details and heritage and prominence and just construction. They really sort of take what we’ve done and take it forward. So while things may appear old, it’s actually really modern at the same time. None of this is new information but the whole of how they have changed denim forever, but now it’s like in everything else. Like with working with these brands and how they make things in America that we don’t even know about, like I don’t even known about these places in Arizona and Texas where they find these places, like Hiroki from Visvim, the way he’ll get immersed into a culture and then learn about the past and the way things use to be but the result is something completely modern and it has nothing to do with recreating the past at the same time. It’s beyond inspired. For me the problem is that, having worked with American retailers, that everyone is so obsessed with last season and don’t bother to think ahead or think about what the future might be. So for me, to be given the opportunity by PROJECT to go out to Tokyo and meet these people who are my heros and invite them to participate and have them do that is beyond surreal. I’m very honored.

SlamXHype / You have a long list of brands this year, what did it take for these Japanese designers to catch your attention?

Nick Wooster / It’s funny. It’s kind of like…time. Time was my only constraint in that that you can’t just blow into a place and expect everyone to be like ‘oh okay.’ For the most part everybody I wanted to work with agreed, but I was only constrained by time. If I had more time I probably could’ve invited more people. Time and space, I mean obviously the space is only so big I mean it’s already a little crowded. But it was because I wanted to do more, I would like to do more, I mean I think we could do an entire show. I would love to do an entire show. Laughs. So it was really time that was my only constraint. It’s too bad. And also part it was just contacts, like we met a lot of people through our initial contacts and they were excited and happy to introduce us to others during the trip. It was so phenomenal to have Andrew and I working with our contacts, and with having Marcus come to document it. I love this story; so I haven’t been to Tokyo to 10 years and the thing was when I went prior I always went with people. Like meaning, Comme Des Garcons was the first people I went to visit and they took care of us, so here we are we’re in ‘mars’, you know by ourselves and our first morning we had an address, we went somewhere and we’re trying to walk around trying to find it. It was a disaster. So we got to our first few appointments, and it was really like the blind leading the blind, and Marcus said at 3 o’clock, “Oh I have this friend who’s been living here for a few weeks and he’s with Nike in America and he’s been living here” and I’m thing “Yeah yeah, whatever.” Okay, but he totally saved our lives. Jarrett Reynolds is his name. He spent the next four days taking us everywhere and it was unbelievable. Without him there would be like one thing in here. Laughs. But that was exactly the trip. It was because of that, because of Jarrett, because of the relationships we were making along the way, it organically became this. It was just unbelievable.

SlamXHype / Talk about some of the highlighted brands here.

Nick Wooster / It’s hard to just describe one. But I was very grateful that Hiroki gave me two beautiful panels, which is always how he presents his most important ideas of the season. It’s a friendship and relationship that I really value. Along the way, meeting TS(S) and Mando, they make some really amazing things. Then meeting the United Arrows people and they wanting to work with me was beyond flattering and thrilling.

SlamXHype / Why did you decide to stretch the project into collaborations?

Nick Wooster / Because people asked. Laughs. In every case I think it was just about because of last season. In here it’s about me and an idea that I had that Japan needed to be highlighted, but the collaborations were just because of PROJECT and that because they gave me the opportunity last season. Brands were interested in partnering with me and it all ended up tying together.

SlamXHype / What did you look for when collaborating? We’ve noticed a wide range of products, a lot of camo and functional details on pieces…

Nick Wooster / Well, I’ve always been obsessed camo and the idea of camo. That it represents two things I’m totally not interested in, war and hunting. I also think it’s funny about camouflage because it’s meant to make you invisible, yet on it’s own it’s actually quite bold and I love the paradox of that idea. Also if you’re going to collaborate with someone you’re not going to create an entire line around something. For people that have known me in the past, it was the single thing that could make an interesting story and together I hope that it all works together to say something about who I am. It was a very personal way on how to express myself.

SlamXHype / What’s in store for next year?

Nick Wooster / Laughs. I have no idea. Um, maybe a store. I’m a retailer. So you might see something interesting…

SlamXHype / Last words?

Nick Wooster / I love SlamXHype. Laughs. Thank you.