The opening registration area of Agenda at the Hyatt Regency in Huntington Beach, CA

Packed halls at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Huntington Beach, CA, January 8-9th proved that despite the incredibly sluggish economy, which has hit fashion especially hard, things are still rockin’ in the world of youth culture with niche and not-so-niche action sports and streetwear brands. Over the years that we’ve covered Agenda, from an upstart rocking the boat at ASR, to standing on its own last Fall to now, the progression has been remarkable.

As Aaron Levant, Agenda founder said, “We want to grow but in ways that takes the best of each subculture first.” The layout at the Hyatt, and it NOT being a convention center, seemed to have several advantages -not only lower costs for exhibitors and no union fees, but there were hallways, ballrooms, and private nooks that allowed for an experimental trade show landscape ranging from Gourmet shoes showcasing each sneak on a banquet plate, to Insight’s hippy coven and art conclave, to a massive backhall Hurley (and Nike 6.0) extravaganza showcasing all the top goods including a very cool denim display.

Hurley (and Nike 6.0) dominated the back section of the Grand Ballroom. One of their main pushes at the show was denim. Like Volcom, and several other brands, denim is a strong category for action sports and streetwear lifestyle brands.

Volcom tapped into the denim highlight too at Agenda with an entire room basically dedicated to their collections for guys and girls. One thing that definitely popped on the radar at Agenda is that the big boys in youth culture are going to give the denim industry a run for their money as denim is clearly the major push.

Other highlights included of course the ongoing trend of plaids and heritage-looking Americana. Mishka, among a select few others, have taken the concept to the next level with ironic and almost humorous American flag sweaters (“Amerikana”) and scarves, “Death” rugby shirts, and work pants that when rolled up (while riding your fixie, for example) reveal colorful plaid.

Mishka from NYC–photos weren%uFFFDt yet allowed but believe me when I say the collection is cool.

The layout of Agenda included a section called Primer for smaller up-and-coming brands (sort of like the Goldbox Mission at ASR) and was an interesting place to see what’s next on the radar, especially in the world of T-shirts. For example, Akra and their T-shirt collection included raven “execution” graphics, owls, and a “Bad Trip” psychedelic T-shirt in yellow and faded neons with an electronica theme. Cardboard Robot was also in Primer and was actually the kingpin in this series of brands, keeping with their political and funny T-shirt graphics in super soft cottons and other pieces that retailers were ordering up.

The area with loads of hype was The Berrics Agenda where a collection of core skate brands resided. Not only was this the main bro-deo location (and almost 100% dudes) but some larger skate brands were present in this section such as Etnies, P-rod, DC, Globe, and Girl Skateboards. This area was buzzing the entire time, however it was a little difficult to know if it was because there were a bunch of team riders cruising around or some real orders going on. Either way it had a lot of energy and according to the Berrics guy I talked to, brought out a lot of smaller, core shops to Agenda.

Bro-deo in the Berrics Agenda area.

The main sections, the Huntington Ballroom and Grand Ballroom, were definitely writing areas whereby brands such as Creative Recreation and Native Footwear (another Dre Hayes brand from The Foundation) were in constant demand from retailers writing orders. Down another entire wall was the motocross section with brands such as Famous Stars and Straps -which without a giant classic car actually looked like a tiny booth but for once you could see their collections and rap with their reps about what’s up with the brand. Next door were Fox Head and Metal Mulisha both of which attracted another subculture of rockabillies and core motocross people.

Many staples from ASR were to be found at Agenda, including Vans, Adio, Zoo York, Gravis, Pro Keds, Volcom, Hurley, Oakley, SkullCandy, and others, which made many people comment on why go to ASR? Of course, we will, but the question came up in conversation 5 times within the first hour we stepped into Agenda. Of course, there weren’t many surf-oriented brands at Agenda other than Maui & Sons and Rusty, both of which have made strides in branching beyond their historic core.

Here, there was a strong mix in lifestyle crossovers with street, whereby brands from NYC such as 10 Deep, Married to the Mob, Undrcrwn, Rocksmith, and Mishka mixed it up with streetwear from LA and SF such as Hot Air, Crooks & Castles, Obey, GrnAppleTree, RVCA, plus skate brand crossovers and a load of sneaker brands ranging from Converse to Osiris. Not to mention a big dose of moto-inspired brands mixed in.

Agenda may just be the new model of a trade show that captures many elements of active lifestyles that represent the direction of where things are headed in the future.

Cardboard Robot was the kingpin brand in the designer-y Primer section.

10Deep from NYC featured new twists on street and upper-street designs. A much-sought after brand for streetwear and upper urbanwear retailers. (See LabelNetworksTV on YouTube for more from 10Deep).

686 keeps with their interesting outerwear displays.

Aaron Levant, founder of Agenda Trade Show.

Agenda featured several DJ%uFFFDs (a total pre-requisite for trade shows now) which kept things pumping.

Akra, a newbie brand featuring eco-T-shirts and cool graphics including the Raven Execution and Bad Trip psychedelic in yellow and faded neons.

Creative Recreation is one of those exploding sneaker brands that crosses many boundaries into classy, upscale footwear. This theme as represented by their iconic photo book centered around African themes.

Creative Recreation is known for great styling and amazing lookbooks that border on coffee table collectibles. This one takes place in the Masaai Mara in eastern Kenya and Tanzania. Jambo sana!

Girl Skateboards–don%uFFFDt let the name fool you. This brand it totally core, bro-ness.

Loving the Gourmet footwear display. Sneaker freakers banquet.

Hurley, like Volcom, is really pushing their denim collections this year. Watch-out Levi%uFFFDs. Top trends included new fades, but also stovepipe, bootcut, darker colors, and waxed.

Hurley artist making a collage. There were several artists on-site throughout the show, including the opening area with RVCA-s famed artists painting live. Again, another pre-requisite for a streetwear show.

Insight%uFFFDs enclave in the Fountain Room was very interesting, featuring their hippy-inspired collections, plus Crap Eyewear, live artists, DJ sets, and cool leather chairs and couches. Insight also markets through collage-like%uFFFDzines and peace-loving stickers.

Men are the new Women, according to Married to the Mob, one of the few women%uFFFDs streetwear designers on the block. Popular booth with cool graphic T%uFFFDs, jackets, pants for street-savvy girls. MOB, like Sessions, has investment from Samsung.

Native Footwear was one of those sneaker brands that was tough to get into, simply because they had retailers in their booth constantly doing biz.

Nike 6.0 skate sneaker doing the plaid thing.

Oakley sunglasses featured some stunning new styles and popping rave-y colors.

Skullcandy, the brand that’s taken the designer headphone world by storm, featured lots of new models, but the biggest news was the launch of their backpacks, T-shirt, and hat collections. Some of these guys were at the CES show in Vegas where supposedly they had a huge booth going on. Nothing like crossing over between electronics, action sports, music, and streetwear.

Here’s a bit of Skullcandy’s new backpack collection, T’s, and caps.

Vans had two separate areas–one for their sneakers and another for apparel and backpacks. Their anarchy display reminded us all of where things came from for Vans, it’s roots in punk and skate. Stay tuned for cool collab announcements soon.

Undrcrown out of NYC features the baseball-basketball lovin’ side of streetwear. Their super bright neon b-ball shorts are a big hit with many retailers. But now that you have bands like 3OH!3 sporting basketball shorts on Warped, the crossover with music, punk, rap, and emo is bringing the gym-style to an all-time nu rave high.

Volcom jeans were pushed bigtime at Agenda. Of course as usual, you can’t get into see the secret-squirrel Fall-Winter 2010 collection unless you’re like, a PacSun or Fred Segal buyer.