At the 2017 edition, organizers attempted to integrate more women’s brands into the marketplace — also hosting a Leading Ladies panel moderated by Chelsea Handler featuring actresses Lena Waithe and Dascha Polanco, artist Young M.A and model Iskra Lawrence. Although the show did attract a lot of male consumers, there was a sizable portion of women waiting in line for product as well, and hopping from booth to booth. Official percentages weren’t available at time of publishing.
Women’s focused brands showcased at the festival included Melody Ehsani, who brought her jewelry collection along with pieces from her Reebok collaboration; Married to the Mob, which featured items produced with K-Swiss, Sporty and Rich; and Pebbles Art, a New Zealand-based streetwear line.
Leah McSweeney, who founded Married to the Mob, used her booth to sell product but also host live sessions of her podcast, Improper Etiquette, with cohost and Hot 97 radio personality Laura Stylez. Throughout the show, McSweeney and Stylez had conversations with guests ranging from Sharifa Murdock, the cofounder of Liberty Fairs, to Lanie Alabanza-Barcena, who designs HLZBLZ, another women’s streetwear line.
“I think the inequality at ComplexCon was pretty maddening, but I knew what I was getting into,” said McSweeney, who noted that business for Married to the Mob doubled this year. “Very few women’s brands were there because very few women brands exist in the space, but the ones that do exist should have gotten more of a spotlight and more support from the organization.”
Pebbles Hopper, who designs for Pebbles Art, was encouraged by the turnout and said she did a lot of business.
“I see girls here in groups rather than just with their boyfriend,” said Hooper, who sold her streetwear line along with one-off jackets she embroidered in collaboration with Levi’s and a few pieces of embroidered underwear she made with Alanna Pearl. “I hope more women’s brands show here.”
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