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Economy Looms Over Agenda Trade Show

Many exhibitors at the Agenda, the smaller cousin of the ASR trade show, were focused on the economic crisis.

SAN DIEGO — Agenda, the streetwear trade show, traditionally has been edgier than its larger cousin, ASR. But many exhibitors at the San Diego Concourse last week were focused on the economic crisis.

“I haven’t written a single order in two days, but have talked with a lot of buyers passing through,” said Lindsay Jo Holmes, who in 2006 founded the Portland, Ore.-based Maple XO jewelry line that is made from recycled skateboards.

Holmes’ line wholesales for $12 to $26 for earrings, bracelets and rings, and Maple XO opened six or seven new accounts at the summer Agenda show.

Although foot traffic looked reasonably strong Friday, some of the estimated 85 brands exhibiting at the three-day show that ended Saturday said retail buyers were writing few orders on the premises.

Men’s apparel dominated the show, with women’s in shorter supply than in the past, though women’s collections from stalwarts like Hellz Bellz, Nikita and Lifetime Collective maintained solid presences.

“Surprisingly, we’ve written more than 10 orders already, which isn’t huge, but is significant right now, all things considered,” said Shay Childress, North American sales manager for Lifetime.

Childress and other exhibitors said contemporary dresses and sweaters in refined fabrics like silk and soft wool blends did well, as did the lower end of the spectrum, like basic graphic T-shirts.

Accessories were represented heavily, particularly watches, sunglasses and shoes.

Oliver Peoples’ Mosley Tribes brand, which made its Agenda debut, joined big names like Adidas, G-Shock, Incase, Puma, Reebok and Stussy.

“I don’t really write orders here; I usually look around to get ideas and see what’s out there,” said Steve Miska, creative director of One Design, a Seattle firm that buys men’s sportswear for stores in Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo. “Right now, graphics are popular at my stores — also, the skinny silhouette pants and jeans are still big.”

Brands like Crooks & Castles, Comune, FreshJive and 10.Deep pulled in a stream of retailer traffic Friday, and international retailers were trolling the booths.

“It’s harder and harder to find the money to come to the shows; we have to be really resourceful,” said Nino Escalante, a buyer for DRGN, a streetwear and skate shop in Mexico City. “The economy really hurts us.”