‘A Fusion Of California Culture And The Arts’
By Tiffany Rider - Senior Writer
June 18, 2013 - An involved and enthusiastic Aaron Levant celebrates a decade in business with his lifestyle fashion tradeshow AGENDA this year, looking ahead to the possibilities of expanding this show’s footprint while maintaining the core event. Look for AGENDA in Long Beach July 25 and 26.
Launched in the International City in 2003, a then-19-year-old Levant filled a void in the apparel tradeshow market. His concept flips the traditional model on its head – AGENDA is an invite-only show, and Levant oversees all invitations personally.
“We are really meticulous about who gets in and the criteria they have to meet,” Levant told the Business Journal. “It is a mix of big brands and small brands, but they really have to have something unique and original and authentic to be in our show.
With other shows in the market, there is not that type of curation process that goes into it. That’s the main thing that sets us apart from other trade shows in the fashion industry, specifically.” Levant describes the show as a fusion of California culture – surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding – and the arts.
The biannual show comes to Long Beach in January to exhibit the coming fall fashions, and in July to market products for the following spring. This allows buyers to purchase items – from lines like Antihero, Billabong, Crocs, Darkstar Skateboards, Roxy, Sector 9, DVS Shoes Company, G-Shock, Han Cholo, Iron & Resin, Levi’s, Rainbow Sandals, Hurley and many others – headed to the marketplace up to six months in advance. In the beginning, Levant said, the show had about 250 buyer attendees. This summer AGENDA will attract upwards of 10,000 buyer attendees over two-days.
“When you look at what they have done, they have grown organically,” Steve Goodling, president and CEO of the Long Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said of AGENDA. “My observation is that it’s the word of mouth. It’s the viral marketing. It’s the social marketing. And it’s grown exponentially. Clearly what they have created has resonated with an untapped audience.”
Goodling compared AGENDA’s impact on Long Beach to the cutting-edge event TED Conference. “What Aaron has done is create a new model for a convention just as the TED Conference created a new model for learning,” he said. The AGENDA model is still growing, Levant said. This season, the show will expand to include an education portion – using the Long Beach Performing Arts Center for conferences with speakers and a sit-down forum.
In addition, a music and arts scene has developed around the brand. Levant said it is “South-by-Southwest-esque,” referencing the annual music, film and interactive festival held in Austin, Texas. “We think AGENDA could grow into a weeklong event that encompasses everything with these brands,” he said. “We’re talking movie premieres, product releases, with the tradeshow at the core of it. There are a lot of other companies that could engage with the event as we start to pull it outside the walls of the convention center.”
To help facilitate another decade of growth, the AGENDA show joined Reed Exhibitions in December 2012. Reed, one of the largest event companies in the world, added AGENDA alongside the ranks of Comic Con, PAX (the biggest video games convention in the country), UFC Fan Expo and others. “With the help of Reed Exhibitions, we will be able to take AGENDA to the next level and be able to attract larger sponsors, more attendance and leverage the experience of that company’s logistics, infrastructure and financing to go further than we’ve gone. The next 10 years is looking much brighter than the first 10.”
AGENDA also appears in New York and Las Vegas. For more information about the AGENDA show, including a complete list of exhibitor brands, visit www.agendashow.com.