Story and Photos by Kathleen Gasperini and Tom Wallace
The Agenda Trade Show in Long Beach, CA, January 5-6, 2015, featured inspiring designs, brisk business, and a coming together of the best in action sports-inspired and streetwear fashion, footwear, accessories, and wearable technology. With an industrial theme made of a mix of barrels, pallets, and cargo containers, it was a suitable for the area—near the West Coast’s largest shipping port—and the idea of getting down to real business.
Agenda is divided into several sections which help navigating the flow of the show and gives exhibitors and attendees a clearer sense of how the various tribes actually fit together. The Berrics which is now legendary for bringing together skateboarding brands continued to be one of the busiest locations of the show. Brands such as Tracker, DC Skate, Primitive Skateboarding, Toy Machine, Zoo York, Dwindle Distribution, and Baker Boys Distribution among many others illustrated that for now, skateboarding is still going strong. From trendy deck designs, to eco-friendly boards, latest in trucks, wheels, and board bags, not to mention skate sneakers, here is where the brightest and most legendary in the industry congregate. It’s also not uncommon for impromptu skate sessions to start up with skaters testing boards and tricks on the show floor.
Levi’s debuted their skateboarding denim jeans here this year, with a display that showcased how various parts of the pants are reinforced and flexible for looking good while riding. LRG, Nike SB, Circa, Emerica, and many other skateboard shoe brands were all on hand. Skate shoes are still running the range of bright colors and metallics, but there’s also new directions with black and white, muted greys, pops of red on black or white canvases.
Agenda WMNS didn’t include all of the women’s brands in street and action sports, as some such Vans and Billabong chose to be in surf areas, but this is a great location to see what’s up with the women’s side of things. Nikita Clothing stood out once again for leading-edge designs, particularly in their snowboarding apparel. Their use of colors in blurred, almost tie-dyed applications was going strong in many apparel brands throughout the show. Nikita makes it look not necessarily girly, but a true mix of styles and colors that are leading edge, especially for urban city dwellers and riders of both snow and skate. Love Surf, Lucy Love, and Stay Cute all contained elements of hippy chic, with knitted patterns, fringe, and in some cases, Harajuku Girl-like patterns, and school girl styles.
The highly anticipated Amuse Society was a bit closed off—similar to Volcom, which in this day and age at trade shows doesn’t do much for a brand, especially if it’s trying to attract new buyers and media, but both tend to get a lot of hype regardless. It’s nice to know there’s a new women’s surf lifestyle brand in the marketplace, and it goes with the growing niche of surf brands in general, i.e. Salty Crew, Luv Surf, Salt Surf, and the revival of heritage brands like Pendleton which are celebrating their Beach Boys/surfing roots.
It should be noted that there was a heavy trend running through the show that stepped-up the urban woodsman vibe. Not only did most of the guys exhibiting sport longer beards, but flannel, plaids, camo, and hunting themes where everywhere. Burton, for example, and the launch of their Durable Goods collection may have been the epitome of proving that a snowboard brand can also be a crossover outdoor brand as well. From the camo winter tent in their booth to the lumberjack log at the entrance, and camo snowboard bags and backpacks, the booth good have easily fit into a hunting and fishing trade show as well. They’ve gone completely huntsman with their jackets and pants, with a nod to the OG’s of workwear like Dickies (who were at the show with a higher end design collection) and Carhartt.
The area called The Woods is exciting on many levels. First, the area is a curated section of newer outdoor-oriented brands (which may be duplicated in the upcoming Outdoor Retailer Trade show in Salt Lake City January 19-22 in an area called Venture Out). But The Woods also brings together the revival of heritage brands and craftsmanship and eco-friendly and fair trade brands. From The People’s Movement eco-inspired footwear, to Mipacha shoes made in Peru, to Krochet Kids, Coalatree Organics, the area provided the opportunity to showcase where things are headed which is on a more sustainable path.
The Woods is also the place to find new twists on heritage brands such as Goorin Brothers and their latest in caps and hats, PF Flyers hightops, Pendleton, Palladium Boots and their crossover looks for street and outdoors, Woolrich White collection, Wolverine Heritage, Wellen, and Sperry Top-sider. New brands that show old themes can be found in new collections included Salt Surf, Rains, and Richer Poorer.
This is also the area where the crossover with motorcycle culture and surf reside. Iron and Resin for example, provides that adventurous chic, moto aesthetic with the outdoors and actions sports, along with Deus Ex Machina, and even Lee Mercantile Co. which featured their high-end streetwear/crossover with moto and skate denim jeans.
Footwear is a huge part of Agenda and one of the staples of the entire show. This January, they included a section dedicated to the latest in footwear that come from a streetwear vibe. The latest colorways for Timberland and styles prove that this classic boot also fits the bill for urban explorers. Supra, Keds, Lacoste, Onitsuka Tiger, Creative Recreation, and Dr. Martens also provided a mix of where things are headed in footwear with a nod to prep, crossover with outdoors, and even punk styles with mega platforms in sneaker culture.
Accessories including caps, such as those found at Mishka, Official Crown of Royal, and Obey Clothing, among others illustrated that designed snap-backs with wide brims are still a staple part of the scene. The differences are that brighter colors are now within the mix of the winter knitted caps and being adopted by girls just as much as guys. If there’s one area that is post-gender, it’s with caps, but moving briskly into wearable technology, socks, and sunglasses. From Nixon’s latest smart watches in bright colors, G-Shock, InCase, to Raen and Shwood, accessories are clearly becoming main focuses on style overall. This is especially true also with designer headphones which illustrate the strong crossover of leading-edge technology with action sports and streetwear fashion.
Socks are a huge hit once again. Stance, a few years ago, stood out at the colorful choice of sock styles, but the trend is catching on with Sock It To Me, and many brands that now feature socks as part of their collections. What’s taking off in sock styles are the bright colors and tie-dye effects, which provide a cool punch of uniqueness when paired with boots. Think of socks now as the one area where color and patterns are the differentiation in the urban outdoor aesthetic.
Interestingly, while the show seemed early in the year, it was clear that the month ahead was busy for everyone, with many talking about hopping on a place to CES in Vegas the next day or flying across the country for the kick-off of Surf Expo in Florida.
Agenda tends to be the meeting place of friends from the industry and it does a good job of keeping that vibe between the tribes with cool areas to chill such as BaseCamp (BSCMP) with Flexfit and their exclusive collaborations with the show, on-site street artists, Hurley’s big art van featuring Haze and C.R. Stecyk III artwork and photography, magazine areas, and the latest in Southern California’s food trucks at the Agenda Café area.
Overall, this is place to see what’s next in the coveted industries that are inspired from youth culture lifestyles.
Stay tuned for more on Agenda including Agenda Emerge, powered by GroupY with speakers including Shepard Fairey, Tinker Hatfield, Bob Hurley, Lyndon Cormack, C.R. Stecyk III, Ryan Hurley, and Mike Ness.
Stay tuned for more photos posting next week from Agenda Trade Show, January, 2015 edition.