RVCA artwork behind the registration area at the Agenda trade show.

Photos by Tom Wallace

Agenda trade show, for brands inspired by action sports and streetwear, continues to be the crossroads platform for these two subcultures to unite, attracting the attention of newbie exhibitors such as Clocky, to industry heavyweights such as Volcom. It’s hard to believe but the show, which took place August 4 and 5th, is in it’s 7th year, with more than 40 Agenda’s having been hosted throughout the world, and now in it’s second year at the Hyatt Regency in Huntington Beach, CA, across the street during the U.S. Open of Surfing -mainland America’s largest pro surf competition.

What was truly exciting about this particular show was how the various categories within these genres were able to each have their own space, merchandised like a big, cool store, and how genres such as motocross are adding to the mix even more so, whereas more surf-related brands are going punk, and skate is keeping core and in some cases, progressing into denim. The show includes rooms such as the Grand Ballroom, which is where most brands are located such as Nike 6.0 and their large set-up featuring Hurley Phantom and Converse, LRG, Rocksmith, RVCA, SkullCandy, Metal Mulisha, Toms Shoes, Urban Ears, InCase, and Creative Recreation; The Huntington Ballroom with street brands such as 10 Deep, Obey, Crooks & Castles, Grn Apple Tree, Supra, Rebel 8, SneakTip, Brixton; The Berrics Agenda which was added last year to give the more core aspects of skate a large space, with brands such as Girl Skateboards, Zoo York, Krooked, Royal Skateboard Trucks, Speed Demons, plus some brands featuring specific aspects of their brand such as Volcom’s stone collection; Fountain Room for brands such as Insight, Akomplice, Arnette, Live Mechanics; and Primer -a new section for 20 up-and-coming brands all of whom rolled out their collections on racks, featuring Clocky, PopKiller, Disturbia Clothing, AntiFashion, 24K Gold.

Altamont showcasing some more upscale streetwear with button-downs and city chic jackets.

As usual also, Vans, Volcom, and Quiksilver all had their own suites on the main floor, which was also where various DJ’s spun throughout the day, food was served along with Amp Energy drinks, and a broader range of magazines were offered, including the Aussie magazine Monster Children, which was a great surprise, Bliss, Complex, and several action sports titles.

Several of the brands in streetwear, particularly those coming from the East coast, talked about how things had gotten far more serious, given the economic situation and understanding inventory, having proper infrastructure, and being on schedule were absolutely key to survival. Many buyers now are only sticking with brands that they know they can sell, which has made it even more difficult for some of the newer brands to break into the scene. There’s also a great deal of emphasis still on heritage trends, which given the recession and the growth of such iconic styles in overseas markets from America, is not going away any time soon. Plaids are still a strong force, but so too is workwear-inspired styles but slightly more upscale with jackets, button down shirts, waxed denim, and vests. Such brands featuring strong heritage elements included 10 Deep, Boundless NY, Obey, LRG, Grn Apple Tree, and Altamont.

Alpinestars moto-inspired board shorts.

In certain realms related to action sports, bright neon colors, indicative of youth culture’s move into a more emo and synth punk aesthetic, could be seen with swimwear and trunks from Hurley’s Phantom series, the new apparel and accessories coming from SkullCandy, even Mishka which tends to be a brand that crosses both action sports and streetwear (and urban vinyl toys) had a mix of bright colors, angles, and heritage.

T-shirts are always a mainstay of Agenda and youth culture in general, which is also where many brands first get started and there were some leading-edge graphics coming from several brands such as Akomplice, True Love False Idols, RVCA, In4Mation -which also crosses into many categories, Grn Apple Tree, and Metal Mulisha.

One of the most exciting areas of the show was the motocross section featuring new designs in apparel, boardshorts with moto-inspired pictures and themes, such as those from Alpinestars, plus the women’s collection from Fox Head with its military-like vibe and edgy styles, Hart and Huntington, and Metal Mulisha. This area was packed all day and had a cool crowd of fashionistas, some MMA guys, and lots of girls usually in black, and some with rockabilly styles.

Mason and his Clocky brand made of cardboard.

There also seemed to be more accessories on hand, such as Nooka watches, InCase, Neff headwear, Urban Ears, Arnette, Oakley, New Era, a new sock company called Stance, SkullCandy, plus Volcom who displayed their entire accessories collection including bright blue lids and bright orange backpacks. As we’ve noted before, one aspect of fashion that tends to have a strong influence on youth culture is accessories as they can create one’s entire style and are usually more accessible in terms of price than kicking down for a new pair of denim or kicks.

However the bulk of this show continued its fair share of sneaker brands and crossover designer footwear, such as Creative Recreation, Puma, Adidas Originals, Vans, DeKline Footwear, New Balance, Nike, Etnies, Osiris, Toms Shoes, Simple, Pro Keds, among many others. It’s here at Agenda where you can get a strong sense of the where sneaker culture is headed next as it’s usually the first show of the season with so many leading-edge footwear brands from skate and street.

Converse in the Berrics Agenda area.

Some interesting new developments from Agenda included the launch of Quiksilver’s junior collection -not to be confused with Roxy, which according to Laura Thomsen from Quiksilver, will remain as it is, but with the new Quiksilver women’s collection, it’s something new, pretty, and perhaps less aggressive for that 19-20-year-old girl before she moves into Quiksilver Women’s which is intended for a slightly older female. Fresh streetwear such as Black Scale in the Huntington Ballroom and Brixton which is on the rise with hats and various collabs, and Grenade Gloves with started as a snowboarding glove company by Olympic silver medalist Danny Kass and has evolved into an entire streetwear collection.

Art-inspired brands such as Insight, RVCA, Obey, Seventh Letter, and others continue to lead the way when it comes to combining outdoor artists (or street art) with fashion which to us, is also an important crossover with upper urbanwear or contemporary streetwear in general since the collaborations blur the line sportstyle, street, art, fashion, and music. Several brands featured their latest collaborations with musicians or artists in general, and as usual with Agenda, there were several interesting exhibitions, such as Hurley’s cardboard living room set-up, an artist painting live on a fixie bike, and featured artists such as Push, known for painting the interior of the Hurley, Nike 6.0, and Converse concept store in Irvine, and now a new collab with Spy.

Fixie bikes are now a big part of this scene. Here’s an artist painting live on site.

Having the show across the street when Huntington Beach is hosting the U.S. Open of Surfing obviously has its advantages for getting a greater number of exhibitors, buyers, and media, however it’s size indicates a new move might be a good idea. For the winter show, Agenda will be in Anaheim and for the first time, have a section dedicated to winter sports including hardgoods. This is a much needed addition, especially since SIA, the snow sports show which used to be hosted in Las Vegas, moved to Denver last year.

Overall, Agenda provided a clear indicator that street and action sports inspired apparel, footwear, and accessories are still going strong and driving trends not only in youth culture, but other aspects of the fashion industry as well. However many brands in the scene are running a little leaner and smarter to make it through these economic hard times. The buzz and energy was there, as well as the business of street fashion. It’s a show that feels like it’s really hit its stride.

DC Shoes area with apparel. Like many larger skate companies, they opted to be in the Berrics Agenda rather than in the main ballrooms.

Metal Mulisha is now one of the staple motocross brands in action sports and was in an area inspired by moto and MMA.

Mishka is one of the leaders in streetwear and T-shirt graphics with horror, cartoony figures. Greg from Mishka also creates urban vinyl toys such as these and has showcased them at Comicon previously. He’s also very tied into the music scene in Brooklyn.

Black Scale was a happening booth. Upper urbanwear again here with designed jackets and buttondowns.

Girl Skateboards in the Berrics Agenda.

Grn Apple Tree has a mix of leading-edge graphic T-shirts, including this tree version, and a David Bowie-esque eye, plus upper streetwear jackets, buttondowns, and denim.

Hart and Huntington, motocross pro Cary Hart’s brand, was one of the additions to the moto-isnpired area at Agenda. This entire area was packed most of the time.

Hurley day-glo swimwear collection with retro short shorts. This goes along with their Phantom collection with neon colors and angles for guys.

InCase, the Apple-centric accessories brand, continues to infiltrate streetwear scenes with unique collaborations such as the ones they have done with Arkitip Magazine and Parisian street artist Andre, among others. Their new collection features neon colors and iPad cases.

LRG is a legendary streetwear brand which also has an upscale aspect to it with button downs, denim, cardigans as featured here.

Neff headwear and skullcaps are popular.

Nike 6.0 section which also included Hurley nearby and Converse. They had the largest area in the show other than those that had additional suites.

Huntington Ballroom has many smaller, but consistent brands showcasing such as Copy, 722 Figueroa, Keep, and others. Location for discovering new trends in streetwear.

Stance is tapping into trends whereby socks are a huge accessory and style piece.

Rusty featured some beautiful new designs in women’s surf-inspired apparel.

SkullCandy, known as the originators of deisgner headphones, is now moving into apparel and accessories. This should be an interesting evolution to watch.

Volcom stone’s accessory collection with neon blue caps and orange backpacks. This section also featured their denim and was located in the Berrics Agenda. They also had an entire suite upstairs.

Tom’s shoes is about to reach their goal. Since 2006, they have vowed to give a way a pair of shoes to a kid in need for each pair sold and they are about to hit 1 million shoes given away.

True Love Fals Idols continue with cool graphic T-shirts, including their popular Kuala bear or “reggie.”

Zoo York in the Berrics Agenda–staple brand for skate and streetwear.

Mason in his Clocky T-shirt. New graphics and T’s coming from his collection soon.

Krew had it going on including a nice booth set-up and bar area where people could check out their collection.