Sneakers, Art And Commerce Converge At ComplexCon ComplexCon Takes 2018 to the Next Level at the Long Beach Convention Center
LONG BEACH, CA- For its third-year, ComplexCon has transformed the Long Beach Convention Center into a Mecca for fashion, music and a physical interpretation of today’s culture. Live performances, interactive vendor booths, exclusive releases, celebrity activations and their cleverly named Complex (Con)versations all gather under one roof to celebrate art in its many forms. From Zen giving away holy grails in the sneaker industry to Nicky Diamonds releasing a highly coveted dunk, this year was definitely centered on shoes.
The carefully designed space was a completely different experience than the years prior. Maintaining the same layout of food by First We Feast but expanding it to an outdoor lagoon. The iconic LED ComplexCon screen still welcomes guests at the main entrance and Takashi Murakami’s art surrounds the convention in the form of inflatable smiling flowers and vibrant skulls. Curators were strategic in encouraging vendors to fully embrace their creativity and develop the floor into a fully interactive convention.
Adidas boxes hovered from the ceiling like Mario Cart mystery crates with sneakerheads surrounding them every hour on the hour. Hopeful buyers struggled to scan their phones toward the floating screens for shoe releases from Pusha T, Pharrell, N.E.R.D and Dragon Ball Z. After purchasing their limited edition shoes lucky shoppers walked upstairs to the Adidas locker room and opened the door to their purchase with a tap on the phone.
As the dominant brand of the convention, Adidas continued their locker activations at their bank themed booth to promote an exclusive release of Pusha T’s ComplexCon EGT Cushion 2. Supporters waited in line for a key to a gold safe and would find “How Much Is Enough?” branded items like wallets, sweatshirts, and gold shoe horns. Lucky ones like me found all three items in a big green bag.
A huge difference in this year’s event was the Pigeons and Planes stage. Where prior ComplexCons included stages throughout the floor of the convention center, the Pigeons and Planes stage was the main and only stage at the even. This change saved space and allowed fans to see all the headliners without purchasing an extra tickets. Despite the venue being enormous with two large screens displaying performances on each side of the stage, each artists was able to bring their unique brand of energy to the crowd. The line up included Future, Rae Sremmurd, Vince Staples, Action Bronson and much more.
ComplexCon 2018 Introduces the First We Feast Lagoon
Every year ComplexCon expands its event into a more grandiose convention than the last. This year, the biggest growth same in the form of the “First We Feast Lagoon” featuring food from Howlin’ Rays to the infamous $50 burger by Wagyu Flower.
A half circle of food booths was well needed and gave foodies their own space to create food porn content. From Roscoes Chicken and Waffles to The Burger Show, The First We Feast Lagoon was heaven on earth for hungry hype-beasts. Especially those collecting pins for Pintrill’s Good Trill Hunting scavenger including the Yeastie Boys, Johnny and Vinnys Pizza and more. I look forward to seeing the development of this new space in future ComplexCons.
Adidas Introduces Augmented Reality to Release Exclusive Sneakers at ComplexCon
When you walked into ComplexCon it is a lot to take in. The structures built across the convention center are mesmerizing and it’s no wonder why event lasts two days, because you’d need every minute to see it all.
However, this year introduced an innovative shoe release in the form of augmented reality. Sneakerheads with the ComplexCon app waited under floating boxes every hour on the hour for a chance to buy highly coveted Adidas by King Push, N.E.R.D, Dragonball Z and more. Although some buyers struggled to figure out how to unlock the virtual shoe from its box, lucky ones who were able to make a purchase took their phone to the Adidas locker upstairs. Their assigned locker unlocked with the touch of a button and alas, their exclusive sneaker was available to wear or resell.
I was able to buy the Yung-1Dragon Ball Z Frieza’s and while I thought I could resell the kicks, I have had zero luck because they did not come in their limited edition boxes. Despite some shoppers having trouble with scanning the phone, it was definitely an interesting experience to interact with a buying a shoe in that way.
Complex (Con)versation Panel Names the Top 10 Sneakers of the Year
ComplexCon was definitely all about the sneakers this year. Although previous years had the same hype for exclusive drops, this year people came prepared to rock their freshest kicks. Therefore, one of the most highly anticipated Complex (Con)versations featured a panel of the sneakerheads from The Game, Allen Iverson, Wale, Lena Waithe, DJ Clark Kent, and more. As they went through this year’s top 10 sneakers, panelists debated on the ranking of these shoes and where they stood. The audience enjoyed hearing their thoughts and interjected when the Yeezy 500’s were ranked nine.
I found myself amazed at the passion of the culture and how dedicated people were when it came to the kicks on their feet. Although I appreciate a good looking shoe, I have never understood the feeling of wanting a pair so bad I would camp for it. I also thought it was interesting that most of the people in the crowd were wearing the same shoes. Whether it was the Air Max Sean Wotherspoon or the Yeezy Wave Runner, I found it both odd and fascinating that there was such a lack of uniqueness or individuality. That or people genuinely like the same shoes, I don’t judge. Some shoes on the list I believe were well deserved, like the Travis Scott x Air Jordan IV, Air Jordan III “Black/Cement” and while not my favorite looking shoe but a great sentiment to powerful women the Serena Williams’ Off-White x Air Max 97s. The conversation grew into a heated debate and became a captivating discussion about design, comfort, and meaning behind each shoe.
OVO and Takashi Murakami Dropped an Exclusive Collaboration at ComplexCon 2018
One of the most coveted items at ComplexCon 2018 was the collaboration between OVO’s owl logo and Takashi Murakami’s iconic flower artwork. Sculptures, clothing, and posters had a line formed around the booth which held a beautiful gallery of their collaborative work. There was even a particularly special moment when Ben Baller graced J Blavin with a diamond encrusted Takashi Murakami smiling flower chain.
The highly anticipated drop was previewed by Drake who rocked the carpet owl hoodie a few months prior to the event. Good luck finding these exclusive pieces but you can purchase some of the artwork on the ComplexCon gift store.
King Push Releases Exclusive Adidas at ComplexCon
As we already mentioned above, kicks were heavily featured throughout ComplexCon. While every shoe manufacturer was worn by all of the festival patrons, Adidas stole the show at ComplexCon with their many interactive activations, one of them being Pusha T’s safety deposit themed giveaway.
Gold lockers awaited shoppers who were greeted with a key and opened the door to find goodies like wallets, hoodies, USB drives and more. Everything branded with the words “How Much is Enough” which played off of the bank theme. Only 40 pairs were released at ComplexCon and are said to release later in the year.
Berner Gave Away a Cookie Blue Malibu at ComplexCon
Some lucky stoner went home with a powder blue colored Malibu at ComplexCon 2018 filled with Cookies merch in the trunk.
Berner’s first booth at ComplexCon was a haven for smokers looking for a spot to roll one up and chill. Posted beside LA’s beloved Pizzanista and Wu-Tang Clan’s Ice Cream truck, his location was on point.
Friendly faces stopped by like Nicky Diamonds, rappers Nef Tha Pharoah, Fatboy, and Redman. The San Francisco based brand was built from the ground up by Berner and his team. Having the opportunity to give away a car was a big moment for them and fans were eager to win. At 4:20 Berner announced the winner and found himself handing over the keys to a lucky 18-year-old who was at the convention for his birthday.
Mr. Flower Fantastic Made Special Deliveries At ComplexCon
Mr.Flower Fantastic stole the show at ComplexCon 2018 with six foot tall Jordan 1 dominating his space and a fridge filled with different colorways. The New York-based floral artist presented his work live and shared “special deliveries” across the convention center for fans to find. The smell of fresh roses surrounded the area and every person passing by couldn’t help but stop and take a picture of the booth.
The recent growth of his blossoming business happened within a few months after creating pieces for the U.S. Open in support of Serena Williams, Virgil Abloh and their Nike Air Max. However, the uniqueness of his artistry encapsulates the unlimited opportunities ComplexCon represents. His background gardening with his mom and combining that with his love for sneakers happened naturally.
As he continues to create beautifully sculpted floral pieces, Mr. Flower Fantastic is the epitome of what happens when you embrace your passion. Despite being allergic to some of the flowers he works with, he says he turns his “weakness into his strength” explaining the use of his mask and gloves. His choice of anonymity coincides with what he says “is his acceptance of the powerful universal gift of flowers to humanity.”
Overall, the event was a success that incorporated big businesses from McDonalds to exponentially growing brands like ROKIT. Highly focused on sneakers with exclusive drops and challenging ideas when it came to the business of entrepreneurship. Across the board, ComplexCon has continued to push the narrative for today’s youth and embrace the complexities of street culture.