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ComplexCon 2022

ComplexCon 2022

Complex networks held its 5th annual ComplexCon festival in Long Beach, CA. ComplexCon was created to host themes involving exhibitions, music concerts, discussion panels, streetwear culture and content related to pop culture and mass audience entertainment. Don’t miss the video montage of the day at the end of this article!

Larry June for ComplexCon 2022 photo by Edsel Pena

Being that I’ve attended 3 of the 5 annual Complexcon festivals  including the very first year, initially I would define ComplexCon being a hub for social media influencer posing as streetwear aficionados and resellers who only attend to make a profit off an exclusive item that can only be found at ComplexCon. After attending this year’s festival, and observing the new talent of artists and upcoming streetwear brands, I’d define things differently. It gives upcoming creatives a chance to get noticed by a larger audience especially if they have a booth that is designed to stand out. ComplexCon has become an event that cultivates and gives exposure to new upcoming brands and artists that are trying to break into the streetwear and design scene.

Hassan,Bryan Diaz Complexcon 2022

My very first couple of years attending ComplexCon there was always so much to do and see. I always felt like I never got a chance to see and participate in everything that was offered. When ComplexCon was first started they were accepting vendor applications for vendors; this year was curated differently by the artist VERDY. Brands were selected this time instead of having vendors submit applications. Complex giving VERDY creative direction of the brands and artists selected to showcase at ComplexCon I believe was a good decision because it allowed newer brands to showcase what they have to offer and give them exposure they most likely haven’t received yet. While attending the event you could see the impact of VERDY through the layout and organizational structure of the event. Many of the brands that were vendors were upcoming POC brands. VERDY mentioned he wanted to help more of his surrounding network out so there were more Asian-owned brands because VERDY is a Japanese artist and wanted to uplift the Ura-Harajuku movement, but what I also appreciated was discovering new Black and Latino-owned brands.

Teezo Touchdown for Pigeons and Planes Complexcon 2022

The brands that had booths at ComplexCon were brands that needed the platform to gain more exposure such as Willy Chavarria collab with Pro-Club and Edgar Gonzalez who created the brand Andafterthat. Pro-Club is a brand that has embedded itself within the Black and brown community for quite some time, and has offered affordable blank colored t-shirts that are very good quality for an affordable price. Pro-Club t-shirts became a fashion statement and piece in my middle school & high school days, and to partner and collaborate with a brand like Willis Chavarria who is a designer who was born and raised in Fresno, CA just shows how more brands are working together to lift each other up. Another brand that I discovered was a brand titled Brainchild (shoutout to my boy Ed). Brainchild is another upcoming Black-owned brand who had a really nice booth display which showcased a custom cameo-pattern they created and utilized the pattern on over shirts which was sold in limited quantities. I would have never discovered this brand if it wasn’t at ComplexCon. Again, these are just a couple of examples of how the event has changed and grown from previous years and how they can be a strong platform to help propel upcoming brands especially within the POC community.

Teezo Touchdown for Pigeons & Planes Complexcon 2022

ComplexCon created an environment that makes it a little more comfortable for celebrities to walk around and mingle with the attendees as well as shop and pick up merch from some of their favorite brands as well. Imagine being a small upstart brand and Michael B. Jordan walks by on the way to his panel to promote CREED III and he spots something he likes from your brand and makes a purchase, and then posts a picture wearing your product on his IG. You just gained free promo to 19 million followers free of charge all because he genuinely liked a product your brand had to offer. Seems like a long shot but these are the types of opportunities ComplexCon can bring just by having a standout booth and strong brand no matter how big or small. ComplexCon has a ton of potential to grow and I believe if they keep appointing artists such as VERDY it will continue to move in the right direction to help propel the music, fashion, art, and design culture forward.

Panduhmonium for Basket Case gallery at Complexcon 2022

I thought it would be a great idea to get some perspective from my fellow peers who were also in attendance at ComplexCon and are all doing really great work within their respective fields of expertise. So I decided to ask them a few questions to get their take on the event and the future of where they think the culture is headed.

Edsel Pena & KYLE @ Complexcon 2022

Edsel Pena

Can you please tell us who you are, and your position/job title & where you’re from?

I’m Edsel Peña, I’m 25 years of age and I’m from The Bronx, NY. I’m a Product Merchandising Manager at eBay Sneakers.

How did you first get interested in fashion & sneakers?

Sneakers have always been a part of my life since I was an infant. My dad was very much into sneakers, especially Air Jordans and that trickled down to me.  As a child, he got me all of my shoes. After a certain age that stopped. But I vividly remember when Charcoal 7s released in 2002. I was 5, but I absolutely remember seeing that red and purple and drawing an affinity towards it. Fast forward to around ‘07-‘08, I’m about 10 or 11 and my mom got me a pair of Air Jordan 21 Bred lows and that’s the moment that officially stamped my interest in sneakers.

Fashion, for me, in terms of apparel is more recent. I was kinda-sorta familiar with brands and certain important pieces, but nothing I necessarily cared about. I really started to care about fashion and what I wore around the age of 17 which is when I got my first job. You hear this all the time from people that come from NYC but, being from here, you try your best to ALWAYS be fly so you don’t get “flamed” but growing up I made the best with what I had. If the clothes wasn’t looking right, at least my feet were always proper.

What was your first pair of sneakers?

I don’t know what exactly was the first pair of shoes I ever owned, but there’s a picture of me in 1998 wearing “He Got Game” 13s and another with “Black Toe” 14s. With my own money though, Air Max 90 Infrared 2015. Safe to say those got ran to the ground, haha.

What brands are you currently checking for?

I really love what Stussy has been doing for the last couple of seasons. ThisNeverThat has been putting out great products and doing good collaborations. I recently copped the Brain Dead x Oakley Flesh sandal, and I LOVE THEM! So they’re currently on the radar. Shoutout to my brother Bryan for putting Diemme and 424 on my radar. They make great looking boots. Also, Uniqlo is always the go-to for those AIRism tees.

Dime Montreal has been on my radar heavily. They had a nice drop at the start of F/W ‘22. I actually have to go back and check to see if this piece I was eyeing is still there. I also just got my first piece from needles.jp, so there’s that. They make great looking fleeces.

What’s your take on fashion/sneaker culture currently?

I love where sneakers are right now. Since the start of the pandemic, I feel people have moved on from Nike and Adidas. Of course they’ll never die out, but people have become more open to other brands such as ASICS, NB, etc… It’s fun to see people explore other footwear companies. A lot of good shoes are being released.

I like that baggy has become more acceptable again. It’s comfy. I love parachute/balloon pants. I’m sure my friends are sick of me wearing them. I’m just super big on feeling comfortable. Also, maybe it’s just me, but I think people are starting to care more for the type of jackets they wear. I know for me, I’m starting to be very selective. Jackets really make the fit.

A lot more Black and brown brands are getting more visibility and attention, which is great. Their take on fashion and the inspirations they pull from is always fascinating to see. From Pyer Moss to Theophilio to WHODECIDESWAR down to Wales Bonner. And that’s just naming some of the more well-known brands. There’s a BUNCH more, who at a smaller scale, are doing big things. The landscape of fashion—BLACK fashion, is ever growing!

Where do you think Fashion/streetwear and sneaker culture is headed ?

Honestly, I don’t know. I like where we’re at, hope it stays that way for a while. I’m seeing a lot more individualistic styles and that makes fashion fun. Whether you think it’s “trash” or not, I think we’re in a solid space. I’m just glad not everyone is dressed in “Americana”. *cough ALD cough*.

Did you enjoy Complexcon & do you think the event positively or negatively affects the culture?

ComplexCon was cool. It was A LOT. It was my first one. I think it’s good for the culture to do conventions like this. You’re introduced to so many brands from all over the country and world. Different styles. Whether you buy or not.

What are your plans and or goals for 2023?

I just want to drop my book, that’s all. I’m nobody, but you heard it here first. Photo book finally coming in 2023!

You can keep up with Ed on Instagram @edsel40oz

Check his amazing photography out @edselpena.com

Monica “Panduhm0n1um” DeAngelis

Can you please tell us who you are, and your position/job title & where you’re from?

My friends call me Mo and I am a production assistant at BASKETCASE. I am from Santa Monica, CA.

How did you first get interested in fashion & sneakers?

I grew up playing basketball in California so a lot of my interest in fashion stems from my love of basketball and the skateboard culture of Los Angeles.

What was your first pair of sneakers?

I wish I could remember what my first pair was. I remember the first pair of shoes that I absolutely loved were the Nike Air Zoom Flight 98 “The Glove” which were Gary Payton’s signature shoe.

What brands are you currently checking for?

BASKETCASE and MALIBLEU are the only brands I am currently checking for at the moment.

What’s your take on fashion/sneaker culture currently?

Sneaker culture is dead. “Fashion” is currently in a rinse cycle due to the decline of sneaker culture. Style and outfits are getting less and less original because of the lack of diversity that once existed in sneaker culture.

Where do you think Fashion/streetwear and sneaker culture is headed?

That is a multi-million dollar question. Streetwear will always be relevant and there will always be a sneaker culture that exists because of hype. However, the sneaker community has changed drastically and is phasing out because of the way that Nike and Adidas release shoes and because there aren’t many other brands that can compete with them.

Did you enjoy Complexcon & do you think the event positively or negatively affects the culture? 

Complexcon is for the kids and the youth. The event was positive and is good for the culture because it brings people together and encourages creativity.

What are your plans and or goals for 2023?

More MALIBLEU.

You can keep up with  Mo on Instagram

@Panduhm0n1um

@basketcase.gallery

@shopmalibleu or Malibleu.com
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