Agenda kicked off Thursday in what could prove to be an interesting trade show season with several large industry brands not exhibiting at the both Agenda and Surf Expo.
The industry’s largest surf brands did not attend Agenda, including Billabong, Quiksilver, Volcom, Hurley, O’Neill and Rip Curl.
Trade shows often reflect the state of the market, and this market is incredibly challenged, with 2016 much harder than many expected.
Brands at all levels are making hard choices about where and how to spend money.
Their absence created an opportunity for smaller and younger brands to get prime real estate at the show and to spend more time with retailers, who typically get swept up in meetings with the big brands.
Paul Naude’s Stokehouse group was one of big winners that benefitted from the absence of the larger players.
In the area formerly held by Volcom, he and his team created an open, energetic experience for the company’s brands.
Vissla had a booth and brought the van from the Dream Steeple movie to display wetsuits. Vissla also sponsored a shaping bay, where shapers such as Travis Reynolds, Britt Merrick, Matt Kinoshita, Donald Brink, Timmy Patterson and Danny Hess worked.
Those shapers displayed boards as well, and Paul brought big wave boards from his extensive surfboard collection.
Sunglass brand D’Blanc also had a big, open display to showcase its new fashion-forward approach to the action sports market.
The area Stokehouse created became a magnet for conversation and interaction.
We also saw lots of retailers during the day including representatives from REI, Tilly’s, PacSun, Zumiez, Jack’s, Laguna Surf & Sport, Coastal Edge, WRV, Farias Surf, BC Surf and Sport, Active, Sun Diego and more.
While overall attendance looked to be down, we saw some very busy booths including at Vans, which was stacked with appointments and said it was their busiest Agenda ever. Adidas was also quite busy, as was Salty Crew, Roark, Sanuk, Stance, RVCA, Nixon, and others.
Newer brands like Corkcicle, Yeti and Rastaclat were also getting a lot of buyer attention at the show.
However we did talk to some retailers who were disappointed that the big brands, which account for a large portion of their sales, weren’t there, and felt the show thus wasn’t as effective.
We have photos from the show floor in our slide show.