The carpeted walkway leading into Class@ASR with a well-dressed master of ceremonies, Jim Shubin, simply invited attendees to come check out this new jewel of a fashion trade show, September 10-12, inside of Action Sports Retailer (ASR) in San Diego. Class@ASR was one of several new concepts that ASR created to attract brands and retailers to their show and in many ways it may have worked better simply because some elements outshined the original show it was supposed to compliment. AS we mentioned in a preview story about the concept, it was a good idea.

The ambiance was modern, European-esque, like a mix of Project from the U.S. and Bread & Butter from Berlin. Mood lighting using ice blue and green lights, a darker atmosphere, and open floor plan with intimate booths and iPod-white lounges made the show a comfortable place to network and do business. And this was one of it’s main successes.

First it was obvious that people were writing orders, unlike some aspects of the bro-fest next door, and the free drinks, water, and wifi added to the “specialness” of simply being there and getting things done.

From a brand perspective, the range was interesting because while part of us wanted to compare this show with Capsule at Magic which has picked up some streetwear brands, it also reminded us of Pool with an action sports vibe. A selection ranging from action sports brands such as Arbor, RVCA, Atwater to streetwear such as LRG, crossovers with music such as Cardboard Robot, and upper street crossovers such as WESC and Drifter indicates that action sports, street, and contemporary fashion are in the middle of change. Plus some swimwear brands and women’s contemporary and accessories meant that obviously many brands simply don’t want to be on the main floor over at ASR.

This wasn’t a replacement of the Gold Box Mission from previous shows, but many brands said that by being at Class@ ASR they were able to stand on their own and not compete with the Volcom’s of the world. In some ways, it created a bit of jealousy from some who now want to be “special” and be in Class@ASR for this very reason.

One big shift, second to the economy of course, is that Agenda no longer takes place at the same time, so there was a hole. However this show wasn’t Agenda but more upscale with a European, contemporary urban feel.

While admittedly late in the season, it does appear that Class@ASR will a must-see show for next season.