ComplexCon 2018

ComplexCon addressed women last year with panels and brands targeting the female consumer, but this year the efforts felt more pronounced and well-rounded.

“Year two we approached the event with the intent to get more female-centric brands involved and we honestly didn’t do a really good job of providing a great ecosystem for that,” said Neil Wright, ComplexCon’s event director. “In year three we’re continuing to improve it. I think the beauty brands that made sense we invited. We wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just women’s streetwear, but women’s content on the show floor.”

ComplexCon 2018

Frankie Collective creative director Sara Gourlay as photographed at ComplexCon 2018. 

One of the most popular booths was Frankie Collective, an e-commerce site based in Toronto known for reworking streetwear and vintage sportswear from the Nineties — or addressing women in a way brands aren’t. Girls swarmed the booth as Frankie Collective’s creative director Sara Gourlay pointed out cropped Supreme hoodies and sports bras, designer dust bags refashioned into cross-body styles, and Gucci chest rigs.

“Some of these brands are so hard to access, so we are trying to make it more accessible and wearable for our girls,” said Gourlay.

Other women’s brands that showed included Melody Ehsani, who unveiled a collaboration with Lauryn Hill; Sami Miro Vintage; Bephie; Dickies Girl; Urban Outfitters women’s, and Kilo Kish, who debuted her merchandise line Aggy at the show.

“I’m super happy with how everything went,” said Kish. “The convention can be a bit of a boys’ party and it’s cool to have chill spaces for women.”

Urban Decay offered free tattoos at ComplexCon 2018. 

On the beauty front, GCDS, an Italian streetwear line, introduced its new beauty brand at the KNC Beauty booth, which is run by Kristen Noel Crawley, who sold lip and eye masks. Champs built out a space where women could get free manicures and Urban Decay offered free tattoos and sold its Naked Cherry palette.

“This is an industry for women and we wanted to address that,” said Hope Bonneville, director of experiential at Urban Decay, who noted that quite a few male shoppers purchased the palette for the women in their lives. “It’s no longer enough to just give women cocktails. It needs to be a 360 experience,” she said.

Panel programming including a session on women in streetwear and a panel on women behind the lens that featured Issa Rae and Lena Waithe.

“Things are still up in the air,” said Beth Gibbs, who owns Bephie, a women’s line, when asked about the strides being made with women in streetwear. “I think the challenge becomes different and bigger when money starts becoming a thing because everyone is so brand-conscious and people want to see the Vans and the Nikes. So hopefully these big brands will not just use women influencers, but employ more women to design more things or use more women athletes or focus more on women’s streetwear.”

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