Micky Papa

Aaron Levant and the rest of the Agenda crew have struck a deal to align the June Agenda trade show and festival with the summer skate competition Dew Tour.

Levant, who founded Agenda in 2003, said the partnership is in line with what the action sports industry trade show has been focused on more recently. That would be to evolve.

“It’s a continuation of the path that we’ve been going down over the last few years of really diversifying what our business is and what it means and as you saw over summer of this year, we opened Agenda up to the public, creating Agenda Festival. It gave brands another layer of value. We’re just supercharging that and doing it at a faster pace,” he said.

The one-day event in July featured performances from Tyler the Creator and A$AP Rocky, among others, along with food trucks, athlete appearances, skate demonstrations and more than 500 pop-ups. The festival followed the two-day trade show for the industry. About 15,000 people came to the Long Beach Convention Center for the inaugural event.

More are projected this time around, with Levant estimating the event aligned with Dew Tour could draw as many as 50,000 people. Both events launch June 28, with Dew Tour going one additional day to cap July 1.

Dew Tour is free, while Agenda this year charged $45 for admission. Levant said prices for next year haven’t been set, but are likely to be a bit higher and will also include a VIP ticket option.

Details about musical acts or athletes expected on site next year are not yet being disclosed. More panels are expected along with a similar variety of meet-and-greets with athletes and artists.

A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky surprise performance at Agenda Festival.  Courtesy Photo

Levant, when asked whether the addition of Dew Tour could also draw more retailers to the actual trade show, said it would be difficult to say.

“We did see an uptick with buyers in the summer who hadn’t been out in a while [to Agenda] because we were doing something new and different,” he said. “In this world, new is the most tangible thing people are looking for. I think the more stuff we do and the more of an experience we make this, I hope that more retailers will come….Obviously there’s a headwind against our entire industry, but within the stores that are still alive and kicking, we want to attract as many as we can.”

Levant pointed to Active, Pacific Sunwear and Jack’s Surfboards as examples of retailers that either exhibited or in some way cross-promoted at the festival. No, it’s not the same as having a buyer to count as an attendee on a trade show floor, but it maintains the relationship with Agenda and acknowledges the change in the business, he pointed out.

It’s one reason why Agenda earlier this month said it partnered with the business-to-business commerce platform NuOrder. The deal gives buyers for the Agenda Long Beach show in January and Las Vegas in February access to Online Trade Show, a digital platform built by NuOrder featuring sponsor brands, to browse and also place orders. Levant called it perhaps a bit late to the game but a necessary tool to continue supplementing the trade show experience in much the same way the festival does, albeit the latter with a consumer-facing proposition.

“Obviously, when I take a big step back from the world right now, I hear two big trends happening. You talk about what’s important to people in the market and you talk about experiences and you talk about digital. Obviously, digital has been engulfing more of the world. The more digitally engaged we are, the less experiences we are having. Agenda is big on the experience front. We’re analogue. We’re old school. Let’s get out there and shake someone’s hand, build a meaningful relationship.”

The deal with NuOrder isn’t reinventing the wheel. While Levant firmly believes in that face-to-face and in-person brand discovery, he also said he’s not naïve to what’s happening on the digital front with retailers already being able to obtain a PDF of a brand’s look book or place orders through online portals.

“We’re not stopping progression,” he said. “It’s about are we going to be part of that [digital] conversation that’s already happening or not.”

For More West Coast News in WWD:

Sophia Amoruso Nabs Another $2M for Girlboss

MadaLuxe Sets Sights on Retail With Vault Concept

Rimowa CEO Alexandre Arnault Looks to Rewrite Luxury Retail’s Rules