It can be said that the flagship Agenda fashion trade show in Long Beach January 7-8, 2016, showcased one of the most truly authentic and creative environments in fashion that we’ll see throughout this fashion trade show season. In part, it’s because this show, created by Aaron Levant, stemmed from a history of offering an alternative showcase for brands from the realms of action sports—in particular skate and sneaker culture—and streetwear lifestyles.
Story by Kathleen Gasperini; Photos by Tom Wallace
This show clearly continued the trend of packing in the trendsetters within the industry, and forging new ideas with themes such as the Essentials for the growing marketplace of grooming products and textile personalized accessories, along with another cool are called The Woods with brands that give a nod to nostalgia and the ethic of heritage within the great outdoors (brands like Poler can be found here and should be of interest to shows such as Outdoor Retailer).
Agenda also featured more than just fashion and footwear brands, including areas for inspiration such as the Visual Photography Gallery filled with Spike Jonze images on various platforms, including skateboards, as well as the FlexFit BSCMP featuring old school pinball machines, and a Period Correct Car Installation—proving that Agenda does indeed continue its foray into moto and car culture crossovers.
New this year was a unique area called Pin and Patch that pays attention to the growing fact that personal accessories can indeed, be one’s overall style statement. Wearable art was found in this location, as well as recycled jewelry with a unique sensibility to nature.
Surfing culture is also seen on the trade floor in one entire section devoted to surf with beachy brands such as Lucy Love, Billabong, and Hurley.
However it’s the streetwear brands that continue to lead the tribes in terms of trends, mixing-up patterns like camo and floral, plaids and academia, and outdoor-streetwear vibes like Palladium’s urban adventure sneaker boots, or Poler Stuff’s tents for festival campers.
Tom’s showcased their unique collaboration collection with Charlize Theron’s Africa Outreach Program, with backpacks that resembled Aviator Nation somewhat, but still a showstopper for many reasons, mainly the fact that they continue to build in a sense of giving back no matter what they are creating.
Shwood sunglasses and Proof eyewear were also busy locations of accessories for a reason as both have unique designs and run against the grain of typical sportswear eyewear. Another unique collaboration and accessory comes from Nixon and their James Hetfield watch and leather case accessories made from the rockstar’s own vintage jackets.
Steve Van Doren was on hand once again making his classic waffles in commemoration of the Vans waffle soles at the front of a packed booth throughout the show illustrating that Vans still rules in skate culture. However the Berrics is where all of the smaller skate brands can be found, as well as distributors in skate culture and a live mini-ramp.
For the high-end accessories and brands, like InCase and their Apple-centric designs, it was refreshing to see the evolution in computer bags and the crossover of traveling in style and bike messenger culture. Of course, Stance socks continues to be the leader in the growing sock category, with collaborations such as Rhianna and other music legends.
Denim is also a key part of Agenda and one of the brands that fits well in this show is Cheap Monday from Sweden. For one thing, their price points are not unreasonable, and they easily cross over into skate or moto culture. The same could be said for creative collections coming from Obey and classic streetwear brand staple, Staple and 10 Deep. It was 10 Deep that first delivered the crossover of camo and florals and once again had some unique designs that stopped retailers and show-goers in their tracks.
If we could see Neff, that would have been great, but like a handful of others (i.e. Volcom), their booth is so closed off, it becomes a walk-by which is something unfortunate.
Other brands to note include Diamond Supply Co. which according to our youth culture insights, continues to rule the charts. Patagonia also showcased their first-ever, non-neoprene wetsuits, showing that they still lead in technical sustainability solutions.
Overall, Agenda Long Beach was the ideal kick-off to the fashion trade show season. It should also be noted that this show also features one of the best selections in action sports and streetwear magazines, and an eclectic mix of food trucks which adds to the overall vibe of the show. Their next endeavor is Agenda Miami, which replaces their New York show and could prove that a fresh location is the best bet to longevity.
Agenda also showcased their conference Agenda Emerge, powered by GroupY at the end of the show on the final evening, featuring keynote speakers such as Jeff Kearl, co-founder and CEO of Stance and Nic Galaway, VP of Global Design at adidas Originals among others.
More photos from Agenda Long Beach: