From just 30 independent brands in 2003 to more than 550 streetwear, action sports, and lifestyle brands in 2013, the Agenda trade show January 4-5, 2013 in Long Beach, CA provided a broad range of what to expect in this growing subculture of fashion. The growth of this show in the past 10 years also captures just how fashion has evolved—from street-level graphic T-shirts, to the addition of denim, full range collections, a highly advanced sneaker culture-meets-heritage, into the throws of Americana, mixed with legendary action sports vibe of surf, skate, snow, and out the end to influences from electronica, rave, and the latest in DJ culture with neons, metallics, and a range of cool patterns.
It’s no joke that Agenda’s program painting on the last pages illustrates an Agenda character in gold with a snapback cap, digging the grave for the Magic Show in a cemetery (after having buried Surf Expo and ASR previously). And with the Reed Group partnership, Agenda show director Aaron Levant has more change in his pocket and support to grow progressively, yet, as he told us at the show, in ways befitting the times, without the hassles of a corporation that doesn’t know the scene getting in the way, allowing for a careful plan to improve what he already has here in Long Beach and New York before moving beyond.
Actually, it’s always been the very nimbleness of Agenda, from its down and dirty roots launching at a theatre across the street from ASR and brands rolling in rack that keeps it on the leading-edge. The ability for this show to carve out its own course and change direction when needed based on the fast-changing landscape has assured it’s success: It’s weathered the 2008 crash and motored on into an even more unpredictable time, which is 2013, hosting a show last week that represented some true diehards of core such as Crooks & Castles, 10 Deep, Akomplice, Neff Headwear, and The Hundreds, to an entire section devoted to newer brands with a different take such as Finally Famous, Play Cloths, The People’s Movement, and Third & Army. Meanwhile, attracting the ongoing entertainment factor like a retro newsstand featuring Monster Children, pop-up displays such as Vision Streetwear’s artwork from the Loss Prevention Collective, Flex Fit’s Basecamp art gallery and lounge, Huf’s Jewelry Exchange Emporium, and an entire café area culled from So. Cal’s diverse selection of famous food trucks.
A show can have the best aesthetics in the world (think: Bread & Butter Berlin), but the definition of success often comes down to the brands on hand. At Agenda, it was a nice surprise seeing Nudie Jeans, which tends to elevate any show both in terms of reputable denim and sustainability. The area included upper urbanwear styles such as Comune, and an interesting new brand Los Angeles’ based Third & Army plus older brands featuring their higher-end styles coming from Dickies and Levi’s. Similar to Iron & Resin, there’s also a strong trend towards a less blatant Americana (minus the camo, or rather, a muted camo X Hawaiian pattern), and move towards craftsmanship, quality, earth tones, and a retro surf and motorcycle vibe.
This area punches-out is the ongoing crossover of the gentleman outdoorsman such as Poler Stuff, or what we call the “Capsule” influence, along with heritage backpack brands like Herschel. Even Jansport had their heritage collab with Pendleton exhibiting. On the heels of these two brands however is the newly exhibiting Focused Space. As Dre Hayes, co-founder of New York-based The Foundation group explained, it’s a crossover of Herschel meeting InCase. Truly, Focused Space had it going on, by the apparent crowds, Native American prints and fabrics on everything from backpacks to iPad cases.
Tangent to this movement are brands that seem fresh off the block, but not necessarily new. The row started with LRG featuring some creative pattern combos, oversized pockets built into jackets, also known as “integrated fashion,” thin-weight padded coats, and smaller flannel checks in darker colors. The area from Official Crown of Laurel and their eclectic snapback caps, to Lil Wayne’s brand Truk Fit (a term which comes from “truck fit” meaning to mock one’s clothing style), and brands like Mi-Pac, T.i.T.s, Fly Society, IMKing, Dope, Dissizit, and of course Crooks & Castles, the rows of M through L were a reminder of brands making fashion their own, and often from influences from the streets. Plenty of bling, gold, and silver metallic abound by those in the area and what they were wearing, emphasizing the fact that a main trend coming out of Agenda in Long Beach this time around was the shout-out of metallic in apparel and footwear.
Even Dr. Martins and Palladium had their fair share of silver and gold footwear. These were among the eye-catching pieces, along with a new group of canvas based sneakers featuring artists such as Bucket Feet and Project Canvas, all the way to the originals such as Vans.
On the other side of the fence, were several action sports brands. Hurley’s neon orange “notice me!” booth design to highlight their winter collection of jackets missed the mark when the product should have done the trick, and was probably the most blatant proof that many action sports brands still don’t know where the markets headed, not to mention what their target audience really wants. But for sake of action sports, brands like Roxy got the fact that moving into outdoor-wear is a good idea since most girl surfers, and aspiring ones, like to run and train. Their outdoor collection debut of running tights, puffy jackets, and athletic wear was a pleasant surprise. Nearby, Quiksilver Women still does a great job at putting together an older chic aesthetic to the surf-inspired brand without being too, well, Roxy. Lucy Love, a local favorite and Made in America brand still had its core set of buyers on hand, as well as O’Neill Girls and Brooke Reidt collab for Element.
Newer surf brands showcasing included Malibu Native with a line of retro surf styles and Catch Surf which is the complete opposite with neon, younger prints and patterns. The brands in-between action sports and lifestyle such as Nikita Street, which featured an absolutely leading-edge collection of T-shirts, plus various winter jackets and designs, along with brands like Obey (both men’s and women’s) prove that inspiration can be derived from surf or skate, but still be street.
Bonfire and Arbor were the only ones we saw representing snowboards, along with apparel, but Burton’s Analog did represent that the brand it still pushing lifestyle from a snowboarding point-of-view.
Like Tripp NYC, the only Goth/Punk brand on hand featuring their unique image denim patterns, and iconic punk styles that will be taking youth culture by storm in the near future, Mishka, too, continues to reign in its own right. This brand captures the streets of New York in styles and aesthetics along with DJ culture with elements of neon colors, and heavy dose of Greg’s urban vinyl toys on display. Similar to Akomplice, that makes the most of their 10-by-10 booth with double flatscreen monitors to showcase to twice the number of buyers, Mishka utilizes their slightly bigger space in ways demonstrating a keen sense of ComiCon, urban vinyl, accessories, and apparel. Motocross brands are still a solid part of the Agenda scene including Metal Mulisha with their hefty booth and new neon pink icon, and Famous Stars and Straps—the brand that was also hosting Agenda’s show party later that night featuring Travis Barker, Yelawolf, and Mix Master Mike.
While The Berrics continued to harbor some of the top skate and skate accessory brands, Diamond Supply Co. remains the kingpin of the scene as the break-out brand. Similar to Volcom back in the day, Diamond Supply offers up an entirely new aesthetics that is far more street than Volcom could ever be, even though Volcom’s “Children of Anarchy” theme featuring punk patches with safety pins and buttons was interesting. It just doesn’t have the buzz like Diamond or even the Billionaire Boys Club.
Cycling is creeping into this scene, as it should. One of the best new crossovers to note is how fixie and urban cycling have encapsuled trends towards urban environments. On hand representing the fixie scene for the first time was LA-based Single Speed Apparel. Downtown LA has turned into a mecca for cool cycle shops, not only featuring sweet bikes and accessories, but wearable fashion. We anticipate more brands from this scene in the future.
Like many brands inspired by music, i.e., MacBeth, it makes sense that some of the big players in designer headphones were representing their latest. Skullcandy’s glow-in-the-dark headphones and wires were unique, whereas the House of Marley kept with the low-key Rastfari themes in canvas red, yellow, and, green. The big one to note was Monster’s DNA. Not to be confused with the drink brand of the same name, Monster were the ones behind Dr. Dre’s brand Beats and is now branching out with their own.
The sustainability vibe has caught on as well at Agenda with displays from Global Inheritance and non-profit brands such as Krochet Kids, and a new brand called Woodchuck, from Minnesota, that creates wooden backing for iPhone holders, Mac computers, and tablet cases. In a final note, wearable technologies have yet to peak and continue to grow strong. Brands like G-Shock, Nixon, FLUD, and new brands like MSTR, plus the range of sunglass brands prove that key accessories are as important as a new pair of kicks to today’s youth culture. With CES taking place the day after Agenda, many of the key watch brands and designer headphone guys were jumping a plane to Vegas. This is the year that technology and fashion fuse.
Overall, Agenda provided significant insight into how this marketplace has flipped completely, with representations into growing new genres. It’s challenging to be the first one off the starting line, but Agenda set a standard, and you can bet that other trade shows around the world are watching what happened here, first.