THIS WAS MY FIRST YEAR AT COMPLEXCON and I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t exciting. For me, as I’ve just returned to the states it was a huge meet-up place (and great networking opportunity) and chance to see all my friends old and new. From LA, NYC to Paris, Amsterdam and London. Everyone was there. I guess I was naive to think that this was just your normal modern day tradeshow. It was not. I was shocked at what little knowledge I had as a thirty something about the younger generations below me and their venture capitalist mindset and thirst for being resellers. There’s a fine line between not wanting to blame them, and joining them to wondering if we have lost all culture in what for some of us our greatest lifetime love of streetwear.
At first entering, finding my passes were pretty hard. I was lucky enough to be invited courtesy a guest pass from some of my brand friends. With a vendor and day pass I got to atleast skip the line and get in there early. If you don’t work in the industry and are just going as consumers the line is backed up homie, long before the event begins. I guess complexcon is a little like disneyland, you are constantly asking yourself “how bad do I want this”, “how bad do I want to see that.” It’s never-ending and the lines are easily 1-2 hours. I was with one friend all day and that really helped. If I was alone I’m sure I would have given up, but navigating through the event with one friend is pretty go with the flow.
To preface my relationship with streetwear I have to tell you my age. When I was starting to collect sneakers, I bought them. I wasn’t making nearly as much money as I am now, and now despite being spoiled by some of my favorite brands I still buy sneakers from time to time all for the love. The way a new shoe smells out of the box, how it feels to keep something in a pristine condition, the collecting, the pursuing… it’s a sport. 6 years ago I was working as a model in Los Angeles, and was buying all of my gear. Influencing hadn’t caught on that way yet, and for me personal style is everything. I got my beginning modeling in streetwear for brands like the Hundreds and ONLY NY. By claiming a style that was natural to me I was booking “girl next door” streetwear jobs for a long time. A little more refined, and in a different current market I still maintain to support brands that I only genuinely love and that is my favorite thrill about streetwear. It doesn’t really matter how hype a piece is, how you wear it makes it hype. My style has forever been cozy and the fact that I am able to curate it really means something to me.
Back to Complexcon…..
So the first day it was a little difficult to just even understand what was going on. I wanted to pop over to the adidas booth as it’s my favorite brand of the moment, but the booth was completely blocked off by lines, security, and resellers all trying to get the new N.E.R.D collection. Essentially Complexcon was just a glorified met gala for resellers. You had three different tears of passes; Guest Day Pass/Guest Weekend, VIP, and Exhibitor. Only Guests, and VIP people could wait in line for sneaker raffles early. Normal General Admission had to wait until the convention opened at 11AM. People were pushing, cutting lines, and fighting all after spending insane amounts to even get inside only to wait in a 2-3 hour line to go purchase more items.
I have to say I went to primarily network, discover new brands, and just show face but I walked away learning so many new things about this upcoming generation and their consumeristic habits. While waiting in line for 2 hours to make a tee shirt at the Off White exhibit booth, I was approached by two kids selling their pairs of Off White AF1’s at a whopping 900 after just purchasing them for 150-200 with Nike. The boys had to be all of 15 years old. I just listened and picked their brains with the guys I was in line with. With no intention to buy their shoes, they gave out an air of cockiness that demanded the price they asked because they knew they could ask it. I still have mixed personal thoughts on what this is doing to the culture of streetwear. I thought the Off White Jordan 1’s were really cool when I first laid eyes on them but after months of being taunted by replicas, early celebrity seedings, and reseller content-I just simply don’t want them anymore.
On a positive note, I did enjoy the Makers Lounge that Nike provided. Anyone attending could stand in line at the Nike booth, sign up to customize their own AF1 (for free- YES FREE SHOES) and would be given a time to come back and have a 2 hour sit down session with relative designers in the game (the boys from Public School, Chicago Don from JusDon and more). As I am on holiday I have been a little more lax in an honest way on my normal brand loyalty laws so I let loose and signed up because making your own shoe is pretty damn cool. I love the new sudden trend of DIY. I have always been a DIY girl so we had some lunch and a joint and really enjoyed making our shoes. I have to mention so many smaller brands had so many creative booths as well. Ofcourse I supported my french family Colette (soon to be RIP in December), and umbrella brands supporting them like Club 75 & Pigalle. It was actually a mindfuck to see so many people I see in Paris, at home in America. I also loved what smaller brands like BornxRaised and Emotionally Unavailable were doing.
Day 2 was even more consumeristic for me. My friend and I had bought some Murakami things the day before, and needed to go pick them up. The line was two hours long to pick up things my friend and I combined has spent 1000 dollars on. This to me was ridiculous. Basically people are paying a lot of money to get into the event first of all, and then spending even more amounts of money buying things only to flip them eventually. Part of me wishes that I could say a majority of the people loved the art to own amazing rare pieces of art- That they really fell in love with a pair they would really wear. That’s not what was happening. The truth is well, we all want to make money and invest- but when does this become really poisonous and water down a industry meant to stand for passion and originality?
Like many things in life, I know that all the people from my generation were thinking the same things. It’s all exciting but when you’re a thirty something professional you simple don’t want to see people getting into physical fights at 10am on a sunday over waiting in line to pay 200 dollars for a pair of sneakers.
Complexcon itself did an amazing job of supporting brands and the culture and if you were there for that you could feel it. The resellers really watered down that vibe because some of the best brands were inaccessible due to lines and crowds. The most inspiring part of the weekend for me was hearing Kobe and Kendrick speak. Their talk really hit home to me. Will I go next year? Probably- it was visually appealing and so inspiring creatively. I know as creatives we have no control in general consumer habits but it would be great to be able to separate the two.