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Photos: Kimball & Bradstreet

With more than 600 brands on display, Agenda’s aisles were packed Friday and Saturday, Janaury 4 and 5, at the Long Beach Convention Center. It’s hard to not feel overwhelmed with where to start when faced with so many well-marketed products, and interesting stories, but retailers and buyers seemed to be finding exactly what they were looking for during the two-day event,  checking in and writing orders with many of the well-known players in the action sports world, as well as a few emerging faces.

As usual, several stories surfaced within the convention center’s walls, including Electric’s official unveiling of a new  logo and the rebranding of its entire line. New Balance’s first time foray into the skate footwear category as a  collaboration with Black Box was also shown to retailers.  Music artist Chris Brown even leveraged the show to launch his new apparel collection, Black Pyramid, and it was rumored that Rihanna made an appearance at the Long Beach show as well. Overall, the mood for the show was high, and the response from attendees was stellar, according to Agenda President Aaron Levant.

Up-and-coming brands that gained serious momentum in 2012, like Stance, were also using the show to their advantage. “We’ve done better than expected on the women’s side and men’s was exceptional,” says Stance’s VP of Marketing Ryan Kingman . “Obviously holiday sales are always going to be good but the first couple of seasons we weren’t sure if it was going to do well in Spring and Summer and it has, so the trajectory has been positive all the way across, so we’re stoked.”

Stance unveiled it’s women’s collection at the July 2012 Agenda show and has been building on that by leaps and bounds:

“We are trying to tier the women’s distribution but there’s also opportunity in the more fashion-forward areas and high brow distribution opportunities,” says Kingman. “The response has been incredible. We’ve been able to do some different things on the women’s side with embellishments and we are making tights now.”

The brand is also keying in on the retail possibilities behind its women’s line.

“With women’s there’s an opportunity to plug that into all our existing accounts that are surf skate snow type of retailers and then there’s the whole fashion side that is wide open for us,” says Stance President John Wilson.

Many brands we spoke with were making a big push on their women’s side of the business, realizing that a large opportunity exists within the female demographic. People’s Movement have expanded its women’s collection, growing its slide on shoe made from upcycled trash bags. Over at VonZipper, the brand is releasing four new women’s styles, offering both classic colorways as well as VonZipper’s signature bright pop in an array of 80’s inspired tall cat-eye frames, that will hit retail in Spring.

“We feel that the women eyewear offerings right now have been kind of stale, so we’ve thrown together four new styles that are specifically dedicated to our favorite people in the world,” says VonZipper Marketing Director Greg “GT” Tomlinson. “We think that this is one of the more important stories to tell this Spring because there’s not a lot of fun stuff; it feels like everything just went unisex and we wanted to make a commitment to the women’s market.”

Some larger brands that re-emerged at the show included Volcom and Nike, with unique stories to tell and new ways of reinventing and refreshing the brand image. Volcom, which is launching its new footwear collection, showed off both its women’s and men’s offerings, which run the gamut of fashion and street-inspired styles, to more core, skate-specific shoes. The booth was packed with retailers and buyers for most of the show.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, some fresh faces in the industry were also making waves with buyers from major retail accounts, as well.

“With our launch into America, this is the second season we’ve sold and it’s going really well,” says Australian headquartered Afends Brand Director Jono Salfield. “We’ve got into Urban Outfitters and PacSun, so it’s been good. This is our second time we’ve been to Agenda. We came two years ago and we did a show and it worked out alright but then we decided to back out of America until we felt ready, and now we’ve come back. We feel like it’s a good show to build brand awareness ,and so far it’s been a good show for that.”