Photos and Video by Dennis Dean.
Twice a year, street and lifestyle companies large and small descend upon the City of Long Beach, setting up displays in the Long Beach Convention Center to reveal the latest designs from their brands and show them to prospective buyers, from Pacsun and Tilly’s to Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom.
The event, held in just two other locations each year (Miami and Las Vegas), involves customizable booths for each brand to advertise their wares, and—most importantly—their vibe.
Now in its 13th year, The Agenda Show Long Beach gives established and burgeoning lifestyle and streetwear brands a level playing field to show off their wares and make the connections they need to sell a life well-lived.Read more: http://lbpo.st/1TICGkx
Posted by Long Beach Post on Thursday, January 7, 2016
In one cube sat a basketball court, complete with the hoop. There was another cube-turned-half pipe complete with skaters trying out the merchandise in real time. In the surf section of the exhibition hall, labeled “The Point,” a life-size lifeguard station perched atop a man-made beach in a cubicle, complete with sand and lawn chairs.
The ethos of Agenda revolves around embracing originality and the “lifestyle” part of the brand; communicating the story and feeling behind each product seems to be as important as the product itself.
Additions to this season’s Agenda included its first “essentials” section (grooming goods, leather goods, soaps, candles and textiles), as well as a section for other little things.
“This is the first time there’s been a pins and patches section,” said Jen Adrion, co-founder of These Are Things, a pin and patch company from Columbus, Ohio. “Pins and patches have blown up—it’s really heightened right now. It’s a quick and easy way to personalize an outfit.”
Adrion gestured to a tiny pin in the display case in front of her. “I mean, you can still look professional with a dripping piece of pizza on your shirt,” she said.
She echoed the sentiments of other exhibitors, emphasizing the number of connections she was able to make at her first Agenda.
“Agenda asked us to come. It’s cool because there’s a community here of people we already kind of knew online, and this is the first time we’re meeting,” said Adrion, adding that Instagram appears to be a crucial platform for displaying pins. (Look up the hashtags #pingame and #patchgame—you’ll find out what she means.)
Agenda isn’t just a place for buyers from large retail stores to find new products—though everyone is looking to have their brand picked up by the “big guys”—it’s also place for makers and creatives to network. Even if a buyer doesn’t pick something up right off the bat, the connections made at Agenda can eventually lead the exhibitor finding a buyer at a later date.
Daniel Kasidi, the founder of Rastaclat, a Long Beach-based brand of bracelets—inspired by skater shoelaces, an idea he first had in high school—sold in stores like Zumiez and The Finish Line, said the contacts he made at Agenda for the past five years were crucial to finding buyers.
“Our biggest buyers came from Agenda,” said Kasidi. “Stores like Zumiez, Buckley and The Finish Line. Some came directly from the show, some came from contacts made from the show.”
Kasidi’s business was just one one of a few prominent Long Beach-based businesses to make a showing at Agenda. On the other side of the exhibition hall from Rastaclat, Pizzanista!, which recently opened a store in Long Beach, showed their clothing line amid displays of skate culture-inspired pizza boxes. In the meantime, a portable kitchen in the back cranked out those famous pizzas Post writer Asia Morris lauded a few weeks ago.
“There’s no other brand with food and a consumer product here,” said co-owner Solomon Agau, a professional skateboarder. He said Agenda was great for Long Beach because “It brings a lot of attention and business awareness to Long Beach.”
“It’s great for the perception of the city,” he said, calling it the epicenter for the culture of the sport and the art and music of the skate subculture. “It puts Long Beach on the map.”
The products on display at Agenda went far beyond clothing and accessories. KASE Real Estate, which has an office in Long Beach, focuses on selling homes to prominent athletic teams and standout individuals in lifestyle brands. The team from KASE arranged an entire pseudo living room and kitchen—IKEA-style—in the middle of the showroom floor. A little RV sat adjacent to the mid-century modern decor in the cube space.
It was KASE’s first Agenda, according to owner Keven Stirdivant, who started the company in 2011 and established the Long Beach office in 2013.
“We were asked to participate in 2012, but we needed to build confidence,” Stirdivant said. “Now, we’re looking to open offices in Huntington Beach and downtown Los Angeles in the next 45 days.”
Part of KASE’s appeal lies in its catering to the lifestyle of athletes and brands. According to Stirdivant, the company often sells to professional skateboarders, including numerous homes in Long Beach to the likes of Nick Trapasso, Ray Barbee and Chad Tim Tim.
“We do a mix of real estate and personal development/life coaching […] it’s about spirituality and lifestyle,” said Stirdivant, who called his first time as an exhibitor at Agenda as “surreal.” “We’re big on getting to know who people are.”
As is the mantra of Agenda as a whole, it seems. With a wealth of lifestyle brands that preach a healthy embrace of living life joyfully, especially regarding its wildest elements, the meeting of like-minded individuals appears to succeed in inspiring customers to live the good life—and dress accordingly.