Photos by Ariana Gastelum.
Tens of thousands of fans gathered to attend the second annual ComplexCon that took place at the Long Beach Convention Center on November 4 and 5, a weekend filled with surprise celebrity appearances and exclusive merchandise.
On Saturday, G-Star revealed the new G-Star Raw suit with Pharrell, Pusha T revealed his latest collaboration with Adidas, and Virgil Abloh and Takashi Murakami screen-printed T-shirts for fans.
Wale took on and conquered the Hot Ones challenge with Sean Evans, biting into wings with 10 levels of spiciness and not even breaking a sweat. Out of the approximate 100 times he’s hosted, only one to two other people have managed to stay as composed as Wale throughout the interview, Evans said.
Additionally, the first 100 attendees also got to experience wings coated with “The Last Dab” sauce for the first time ever.
Other appearances included Big Sean, Lavar and Lonzo Ball, Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson, Riff Raff, Wiz Khalifa, André 3000, Rich the Kid, Pusha T, Ty Dolla $ign, Travis Barker, Erik Koston and Rotimi.
On Sunday, Kobe Bryant and Kendrick Lamar took over the Nike court and discussed how basketball and music influenced their lives, DJ Khaled brought out G-Easy to introduce a new song and pass out boxes of Air Jordans to the crowd, and Steve Aoki screen-printed T-shirts at the Dim Mak booth.
Usher, Travis Barker, 2 Chainz, Michael B. Jordan, Victor Cruz and Rei Kwakubo shopped around in the evening.
On top of all this excitement, attendees had the opportunity to listen to ComplexCon(versations), a series of panels that dissected artistic motives. Two of these panels that took place on Day 1 were called “Drop Science” and “Hype East.”
Limited supply, high demand products, designed to drive consumer excitement and generate overnight lines in front of its stores, are commonly known as drops. Hosts Karizza Sanchez and Chris Gibbs, owner of Union, joined with fashion architects and influencers to analyze what makes something “drop-worthy.”
These matters were discussed among Kevin Le from BAPE; Deon Point, general manager of Concepts; Jerry Lorenzo, founder of Fear of God; Racks Hogan and A$AP Ferg, who has collaborated with Adidas footwear and apparel skateboard collection and partners with Los Angeles denim brand AGOLDE.
Gibbs educated the crowd on the definition and the history of the drop, which was started in Japanese retail and first adopted in the US by Supreme.
“When we are talking about drop, it’s important to know ‘A,’ the history […], and then ‘B,’ that it’s typically something coming from a brand that has its own store, so they can keep people coming back,” he said during the panel.
A$AP Ferg admitted to camping out for two days to buy Kanye’s Nike Air Yeezy sneakers at a Brooklyn Jimmy Jazz store, but he was unsuccessful.
Since not everyone is able or willing to wait hours in line, a new business has formed where people are buying merchandise to resell at their own prices. Hogan, who’s profited from this method, explained his process to finding, obtaining and reselling these products.
He said he looks on social media to find out what people want and how limited it is. He admitted that one time, he earned $1,900 for an item originally worth $35.
“I got what I call fair tax, where it’s enough money for me to feel comfortable going down there, if I had to freeze my ass off, if I had to jump over somebody’s back, if I had to huddle up on some dude with B.O. all night,” he said. “Whatever I went through that day, I’m going to justify my price in charging you for that.”
The panel agreed that reselling hasn’t negatively affected the selling of their merchandise. In a way, it’s an investment for resellers to profit and then buy something they really want, Gibbs noted.
“We understand that reselling is always going to be a thing because it doesn’t only apply to street wear,” Le said. “It applies to everything. You could sell tickets. You could sell small goods – anything you want. We do listen to what resellers want to say, but we don’t necessarily follow it. It just gives us insight on what people like.”
Bradford Shellhammer, eBay’s head of curation and merchandising, gave away a custom pair of eBay-colored Nike shoes worth $30,000 to a lucky audience member with a golden ticket under her chair.
Though streetwear emerged through American skate and surf subcultures in the 1980s, Japanese fashion lines adopted it using punk, military and vintage inspiration, resulting in a street wear revolution.
Host Chris Gibbs joined with street wear influencers Takashi Murakami, Japanese contemporary artist; Hiroshi Fujiwara, Japanese designer; Don C, founder of Just Don; and Yoon Ahn, founder of Ambush, to reflect on the relationship between these two cultures.
Fujiwara noted that, when he was initially influenced by American streetwear, he didn’t think about the rules behind what to wear to be considered punk, skater or disco. So, they didn’t restrict his ideas in constructing Japanese street wear. When Murakami was asked about what American culture inspired his creations, he answered Star Wars.
“Every culture is coming together. We don’t have to think so much about those categories. So, like, maybe you can put punk rock and KKK in one bowl,” Fujiwara said jokingly. “In Japanese, we don’t really know.”
Don C admitted that his work is heavily inspired by the Japanese approach to streetwear.
“We feel like you guys took our culture, made it cooler and gave it back to us,” he said. “Sometimes, I try to take things from original Japanese culture and flip it, […]like what you do with American culture, but it just doesn’t work the same.”
Towards the end of the discussion, Gibbs allowed audience members the opportunity to ask their own questions. Topics included how to prevent selling out as well as why there is a disconnection between feminine American and Japanese fashion.
Ahn concluded the discussion with her take on the future of streetwear fashion.
“With the Internet, now, you can see what’s going on, on time like in Paris, London, New York,” she said. “I almost feel like the world is becoming closer and closer. It doesn’t feel like different countries. It feels like different cities…It’s hard to say where it’s going in the future because everything is kind of merging. But it’s an interesting time. […]We have to stick with what we want to do, and I think that’s the only way it’s going to get defined much more.”