Of all the fashion trade shows this past season that we’ve attended and we cover plenty, ASR made some of the most dramatic new introductions and changes than any other, as you can see in our preview story and interview with Andy Tompkins, VP of Nielsen Sports Group, owners of ASR. They started the show with a grand press conference of industry leaders, beefed up the lounges, created more themes, and tried new strategies in lay-out. In addition, they invited Label Networks to present at this show, which marked our return to presenting on Global Youth Culture at ASR -something we hadn’t done since 2005.

However it was difficult to escape the fact that timing had an effect on this Fall’s show, as well as the economy. ASR was the last show in the series and by the time many brands and retailers entered the San Diego Convention Center September 10-12, most business had been completed and many brands’ 2010 spring/summer lines previewed and ordered by key accounts. While SIMA assisted with pinpointing 200 key accounts to attend across a strong cross-section of genres ranging from action sports-inspired stores to streetwear and upper street/contemporary, even flying some in such as KCDC from Brooklyn, among others, its difficult to say that a great deal of new business was accomplished.

For one thing, Class@ASR as we reported, is now one of the best aspects of ASR, leaving regular ASR seemingly somewhat stale. Many larger brands opted to bring in their logo-ed tour vans and create their booth concept around them, which is smart considering the economic climate. Quiksilver dropped the big, hard-booth for a see-through mesh or “campground” like feel. Vans kept their booth small considering the size of their brand, and in their usual interesting form, offered up food -this time with onsite waffles-on-a-stick.

Volcom’s Hawaiian luau theme was an interesting change from the norm and probably the most ASR-ish theme they’ve ever had. More “established” in the sense of So-Cal surf lifestyle for the “youth against establishment” brand.

It couldn’t be helped but talk did stem around the continued disconnect between surf and skate. Crossroads took place two days previous, which is becoming a regular thing, and action sports itself is in the flux of significant change. As we noted in our presentation, “what exactly is action sports these days anyway?” It’s not really what the so-called action sports market thinks it is, but what an entirely new generation perceives and therein lies a major disconnect (contact us for more insight from our ASR presentation).

Metal Mulisha and motocross areas were busy with their bro-fest vibe and continues to be a high point in the show, including far more motorbikes and vintage cars on display, indicating one of the strong metamorphosis areas of action sports in general.

Other highpoints were the ancillary events such as the Seventeen Magazine sponsored Fashion Runway Show which seems to be gaining steam even though it is sponsored by a non-endemic title. AESC environmental area called the Green Room under a bigtop theme which showcased just how strong the eco movement is among those in this industry, and Keep-a-Breast was fortunate to finally have a nice, big lounge to showcase their many benefits within these areas. It could be said that this whole section is yet another little show within a show. Sk8ology also showcased the artistic nature of skateboarding as the art display reminded attendees that truly individual art and graphics are key features of skate culture.

On the left side of the show, staples in surfing such a Billabong, O’Neill, and Lost, were on hand. There appeared to be local orders taking place with surfboard brands in general including hardgoods, mixed with the various bikini companies.

Interestingly, when it came to ASR this Fall, which is one show we usually look quite forward to, we ended up spending more time in the Class@ASR area than the main show floor. Not because the main floor wasn’t buzzing on the first day, but because like the industry of action sports itself, there’s a need to see what’s next. Based on our own consumer data covering global youth culture, while action sports is now getting picked up as the credible “new” thing in some pockets of the country and other locations globally, there is an element to ASR that indicates even more changes are necessary in the future. The good news here is that they have announced an earlier date of August 14-16 for 2010. That may make a huge difference.

For more stories on ASR reviews from the past, do a keyword search “ASR” on Label Networks