LOS ANGELES — The formula for the Agenda trade show is straightforward — assemble interesting fashion brands, charge them a fair market price and deliver on strong attendance.
The concept has proved to be a winner for co-founder Aaron Levant, who began the show with Luis Pulido in January 2003. Though the partners have split, Agenda has grown in size and status as a venue for independent, emerging and alternative brands, often fusing art and music inspirations into the lines.
Agenda now operates two trade shows in San Diego that run concurrently with the Action Sports Retailer event as well as two shows in Tokyo. Last year, it also opened a permanent showroom at the California Market Center in downtown Los Angeles.
On Friday and Saturday in San Diego, Agenda is readying for its biggest show. It is set to attract 90 or so brands such as RVCA, Soundgirl, Caffeine, Tokidoki and Adidas Sports Heritage Collection, and as many as 1,000 people, about 25 percent more than its most recent show in September. A limousine service will be available to ferry retailers from ASR to Agenda. The show’s new venue at 450 Second Street is about four blocks from the ASR event at the San Diego Convention Center.
The $1,200 setup charge for Agenda (about half the price of the 10-by-10 booth at ASR), which basically covers space and not much else, is one reason junior resource Soundgirl, based in New York, chose to try it out this week. Soundgirl made its debut at ASR in September.
“The Agenda show attracts the exact types of retailers that Soundgirl is targeting, be they international chains, international boutiques or local trendy boutiques,” said Elizabeth Jebara, owner of the line and its online magazine.
Not bad for the 21-year-old Levant. He is a Southern California native, who got his start in the trade when he was kicked out of Agoura High School in ninth grade for bringing alcohol to a dance and then got a job as an intern at Pulido’s streetwear line, Gat Jeans Co. Along the way, he received his general equivalency diploma and they became partners in a clothing line, Grn Apple Tree, and decided to launch Agenda. Pulido now runs Grn Apple Tree.Levant compared Agenda with the model of satellite shows in Las Vegas benefiting from MAGIC International.
“We’re not spending the money on all the advertising and travel packages to lure retailers that ASR is, so essentially we’re leeching, but it’s working,” he said.
ASR show officials didn’t return a telephone call seeking comment.
Agenda, similar to cool brands that want to limit distribution and grow by building penetration at existing accounts, doesn’t plan to add shows, Levant said. He wants the concept to grow with better, bigger shows that are affordable to vendors.
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