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On Nov. 5-6, Complex will be taking over the Long Beach Convention Center for its first-ever ComplexCon, a two-day festival focused on pop culture, art, music, style and sports that the media company is billing as “our generation’s World Fair.”
The event promises a bevy of activities including performances by Snoop Doog, Lolawolf and Kid Cudi, to name a few; panel discussions about “the sneaker of the year,” “the business of weed” and “the future of activism”; plenty of shopping, and brand activations from Puma and OWSLA (the record label and creative collective co-founded by Skrillex), as well as Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg’s potluck party lounge for hanging out.
Ahead of the weekend extravaganza, Marc Ecko, Complex Media co-founder and a streetwear pioneer with his namesake global lifestyle brand, chatted with Pret-a-Reporter about putting together ComplexCon, working with Pharrell and choosing Long Beach as the festival’s destination.
What led to creating ComplexCon?
As a business we had been reflecting for a few years on doing a tentpole event. We started thinking about, whether it should be a TV show, an award show or a music festival. Then, serendipitously a guy named Aaron Levant, who works at ReedPop, and just started the streetwear trade show Agenda said, “Hey, would you ever do something?” We started ideating and that’s how we came to ComplexCon, which is one part South by Southwest, one part music festival.
You brought on Pharrell as cultural director and host committee chair. How did that come about?
Pharrell is someone that I’ve known for a while and his creative collective, i am OTHER, has actually gotten into film production recently, too. He was one of the first people I shared the idea for ComplexCon with, and he and his camp were really into it. It was him and artist Takashi Murakami I shared it with first actually. They offered to use their networks, ideas, resources and teams to help us execute this. They really helped in getting others on board.
There’s the music component, as well as a fashion part. What are some brands people should look out for?
Everyone from A Bathing Ape, to retailer Union from L.A. to iconic brands Nike, Adidas and Puma. Capsule, which is a highly-curated fashion trade show, is also bringing a whole host of brands, so there will be lots of shopping. Also there’s activations from non-fashion brands. Skrillex has an interactive light and sound activation that’s gorgeous. It’s going to be really unique and different. It’s really built around this spirit of collaboration.
Of all the places to choose, why Long Beach?
Long Beach is a great venue, a great city. For what it offers from the standpoint of being able to scale, the 250,000-square-feet of exhibition floors and arena, it really allows the city to be part of the experience. Perhaps it’ll be more evident in years to come as it grows, God willing. The conventions or festivals that have stayed with me have really woven the towns and the local cultures into them — I think of Austin in relation to SXSW; San Diego in relation to Comic-Con. And that’s why Long Beach. And we did a lot of research — it was not easy, but if you’re playing for the long game, it was Long Beach.
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