Agenda kicked off Thursday in Long Beach and the talk of the show was the new addition to the lineup – Agenda Festival, the consumer-facing day on Saturday with live music, food, and brand pop-up shops and activations.
The brands we spoke to have a wide range of plans for Saturday, and some said they were a bit confused about what to do but are happy that something new is being tried.
Some brands will focus on selling limited edition product, such as DC, which is doing an exclusive shoe drop at the show. Many are bringing in athletes, including Element, which will have Nyjah Huston in house. Element will also have a sales component, and is partnering with a local skate shop that will run the retail piece of the activation.
Volcom, which did not have a traditional booth at the show, does have a stage for bands outside with Burger Records. And some brands, such as Vans and Vissla, are opting not to participate in the third day.
Other news from the show:
- It was nice to see Hurley back at Agenda with both a booth showing the line and an art installation. The brand is showcasing its collaboration with Pendleton during Agenda Festival.
- DC Co-Founder Damon Way spent time at the DC booth Thursday, and spoke eloquently to us about why he is involved with the brand again. Sounds like there are some very interesting things going on there, including a new direction under the leadership of Global GM Mike Jensen.
- It’s been hard to write so many stories about the struggling Sanuk in the past year. But after a long, detailed talk with new GM Magnus Wedhammer about changes being made at the brand, including exciting updates to the Sidewalk Surfer and Yoga Mat franchises and to brand messaging, we walked away optimistic about the brand’s direction for the first time in years. Magnus seems like a great fit for the Sanuk brand, in our humble opinion.
- Vissla once again had the biggest surf presence at the show which generated a lot of energy, including a shaping bay, a large display of surfboards, a booth to show the line, and the Dream Steeple van.
- Both Billabong and Quiksilver were not at Agenda this time. A few weeks ago, Quiksilver and Billabong partnered to bring important East Coast retailers to Southern California for meetings and line reviews, we are told. RVCA was also part of that collaboration, but chose to have a large presence at Agenda as well. That meant there were not quite as many East Coast surf retailers at the show, though there were some.
- It was great to see that former longtime Quiksilver executive Dave Rosenberger is now at Element. Element has a new leadership team that includes Global GM David Brooks who came from Wasserman; Dave Rosenberger, who most recently was at Asphalt Yacht Club and is handling Element sales and more; and marketing lead Brian Garfalow, one of the most experienced skate marketing executives in the industry. And founder Johnny Schillereff is still part of the leadership team as well.
- Agenda is great at bringing major retailers to the show. Brands told me there were several there Thursday including Journeys, Urban Outfitters, REI, Zumiez, PacSun, Tilly’s and more.
- Mad Engine, which now owns LRG and Neff, is serious about growing those businesses. We heard that CEO Danish Gajiani and Shaun Neff have been traveling to meet with large retailers to see how they can win more business. Mad Engine is a huge global licensing apparel wholesaler with vertical capabilities.
- O’Neill was back at Agenda with a different approach. Its booth served as a dedication to the recently departed Jack O’Neill with photos and an opportunity for people to write messages to the O’Neill family. They did not bring lines for retailers to review.
- Footwear executive Bill Bettencourt, formerly of RVCA, Sperry, and Vans, is now at TOMS.
- We are super happy for towel company Slowtide, which seems to be taking off. One of their biggest challenges at the moment is keeping up with reorders from retailers, especially those that now have Slowtide fixtures in stores, which have boosted sales in many locations. The brand’s booth was quite busy – the colorful product attracted a lot of attention from those walking by.
- With so much doom and gloom in the industry these days, it’s easy to forget that there are some brands that are cranking. Salty Crew continues to post explosive growth and its booth was packed at the show. The brand has been able to add to its team now that Globe International is a partner, and has recently launched in Europe and Australia with Globe's help for the first time.
- And now for some very happy news: Eric Thomas and Jaci Schroeder from RVCA are engaged. Susan Wallace of Aqua East brought the two together when Jaci was working at Roxy. Congratulations Eric and Jaci!