Pop culture waits for no one. Instead, it marches boldly ahead, forging paths where no media has gone before it. How then, do you keep up with the ever-changing tide that is pop culture? Like some, you could stay plugged in 24/7- you could browse the internet, keep tabs on favorite celebrities through different social media platforms, and give up any chance of getting any sleep.
Or, you could do what Aaron Levant and his crew have done: gather the top names in pop culture, brands that are making a splash, and influencers of all kinds under one roof. You could have seminars, a tradeshow, and live performances by top acts.
To get an event like this off the ground, the top minds in the business worked tirelessly to make the vision a reality. When Levant, founder of the Agenda tradeshows and one of the most well-known names in streetwear teamed up with Marc Ecko, the founder of Complex Media, it was a perfect storm. Now, we’re about to see the fruits of their two-year mission: ComplexCon. Taking place November 5-6, 2016, the event promises to be “the World Fair of our generation.”
TransWorld Business spoke with Levant to learn what exactly ComplexCon is all about, getting an insider’s look at what could very well be one of the most exciting events of the year.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What inspired you to start ComplexCon?
I've had thoughts to do something consumer facing for many years but it wasn't until I hooked up with Marc Ecko, the founder of Complex Media, that we came up with the full concept of ComplexCon. The ideation behind it is to bring our culture’s digital obsessions into real life, such as brands, personalities, musicians and artists. There hasn’t been anything that has existed like this prior to ComplexCon.
ComplexCon is a merging of everything pop culture- what's it like to have so many influencers (mainstream and underground) together for one event?
I won't know until November 5th and 6th as this hasn't been done before but I believe it will be the same type of energy that you would experience at a Comic Con. However, people won't be dressed like the cast of Suicide Squad or their favorite comic book character, but will be decked out in the latest street wear gear.
What are your goals for growing and evolving the concept of ComplexCon?
Right now we are focused on getting the first show off the ground, but in the future we see this expanding to multiple locations across the US or globally. Right now, it's one step at a time.
Building up to the event, what has the process been like of involving brands, retailers, key influencers, and artists?
It's been by far the most challenging thing I've ever done in my career. We are attempting to gather the most influential individuals in their respective fields, whether that be music, art, fashion, or food, and we are doing this all under one roof. Gathering all of the individuals and entities to get together to support this integral concept was incredibly difficult. It took two years and a collaborative effort between [Agenda parent company] REEDpop, Agenda and Complex Media to ultimately get people aboard.
What does each sponsor bring to the event?
Each sponsor is doing their own unique experiential activation such as Infitini presenting the Pigeon's and Planes stage with upcoming and established music acts, Smirnoff presenting our arena stage at night with headlining artists, 1800 tequila presenting our art section with a range of galleries, individual artist and experiential activations, and from there the list goes on. This isn’t just a brand slapping a logo on a step and repeat but rather us coming together to develop a custom activation around each brand partner.
Are there plans for additional ComplexCon's in the future?
Nothing that I can speak of yet, as the first one hasn't happened. But our parent company REEDPop hosts Comic Con's and other pop-culture-related events all across the world, so there is a precedent set. If this event takes off it could be scaled globally, and we definitely have those aspirations for the future.
What are you hoping to take away from the event? How will you measure success or ROI for this first event?
We want to create an amazing experience for our customers, which are the fans attending. Our goal was to enable access to the most exclusive sneaker and clothing drops within the streetwear industry, provide an unmatched offering of panel sessions with lead designers, influencers, and artists for fans to listen in on, and lastly to provide a cultural experience that includes live art activations and meet and greets with prominent artists, not to mention live music performances from the most well known names in the business.
We want the brands and sponsors to be happy but ultimately having the fans happy is what will drive this event for future years to come. We are building a major event platform and we are in it for the long run.