The third annual ComplexCon brought together tens of thousands of people to Long Beach, Calif. for a weekend of retail pop-up shops with exclusive sneaker releases, in-depth moderated conversations, and musical performances.
“There is chaos in the world right now but also an incredible movement of young people rising up to create something better and from that energy new ideas and movements are forming ripples through everything in culture, it was important to embrace this at ComplexCon this year,” said Takashi Murakami.
The two-day festival and exhibition returned Pharrell Williams and Takashi Murakami as host committee co-chairs. Influencers and celebrities like DJ Mustard, Trinidad James, and Clippers rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander graced the exhibit floor while ComplexCon(versations) featured guest appearances from icons like NBA legend Allen Iverson.
On day one, Iverson surprised the audience at the “Crossed Over: Jordan vs. Iverson” ComplexCon(versation) moderation by Jemele Hill. Jerry Lorenzo, Kerby Jean-Raymond, Pierce Simpson and Victor Cruz discussed the implications of Michael Jordan as opposed to Iverson from a basketball, fashion and cultural perspective.
“MJ was put on a pedestal for us,” Cruz said. “AI felt like he was from the hood. He influences the way I wanted to be on and off the court. It was the differences that made me in love with basketball more, the baggy tees and pants.”
“MJ was seen as a much more inspirational perfect figure,” Simpson added. “AI was rugged, he wasn’t filtered.”
Back in the exhibit hall, festival goers followed Williams to different booths as he made his round stopping at urban streetwear brand Billionaire Boys Club and Popsockets, which had a bounce house installation.
(L-R) ComplexCon(versation’s) “Women Behind the Lens” panel featured HBO “Insecure”creator and actress Issa Rae, “Grownish” star Yara Shahidi, Complex’s “Everday” Struggle” co-host and producer Nadeska Alexis, music video director Karena Evan, Showtime’s “The Chi”writer and producer Lena Waithe, and Atlantic writer Jemele Hill. (Courtesy Photo Instagram @rachelle_jl)
The festival was the epicenter of high-profile collaborations. Diamonds Supply Co. founder Nicky Diamonds partnered with 1800 Tequila and New York based artist Adam Lucas to design a limited amount of denim jackets. People who were fortunate enough to get a winning scratcher could choose from patches designed by Lucas and have their names embroidered on their one-of-a-kind denim jacket.
“Collaborations are great obviously because you’re bringing different worlds together, especially this one with Adam he’s an artist and his art is amazing, but his fans might not be Diamond [Supply Co.] fans if they aren’t skateboarders so it’s cool that we can bring our Diamond fan base to him, and vice versa, and same with 1800 Tequila,” Diamonds told the L.A. Sentinel. The highly sought after designer also had a collaboration with Nike to produce a limited edition 20th anniversary Nike SB shoe.
“Who wouldn’t want to collaborate the biggest shoe company,” asked Diamonds.
Nike and many of the other major shoe brands attracted the longest lines. For those who drew weary of the lines, attendees could enjoy musical performances from artists like Vince Staples, Nav, and Rae Sremmurd at the Pigeons and Planes Arena stage throughout the day.
The second day featured more tastemakers with one of the most popular ComplexCon(versations), “Women Behind the Lens” panel that featured an all-star cast including HBO “Insecure” creator and actress Issa Rae; Showtime’s “The Chi” writer and producer Lena Waithe; “Grownish” star Yara Shahidi; music video director Karena Evans; and Complex’s “Everday” Struggle” co-host and producer Nadeska Alexis.
Artist duo Friends With You pose with ComplexCon co-chair Pharrell Williams at the Popsockets booth for ComplexCon 2018. (Photo by Kasey Stokes/L.A. Sentinel)
Waithe enlightened the crowd explaining her breakthrough moments.
“People think that breakthrough moments have to be public, but it doesn’t,” Waithe remarked. “For me, it came when I trusted my voice.”
“There was no guide book on the [career] path that I wanted,” Rae added. “People hadn’t taken steps the same way I envisioned. A lot of my mentorship has come from my friends, hitting up my friends from high school and college. I’ve had the community that I leaned on and leaned on me.”
As the day wore on, attendees filled the Pigeons and Planes Arena to watch Future wrap up the eventful weekend. He performed a litany of his hit songs like “Real Sisters,” “Jumpan,” “Wicked” and “Blase.” Future brought out Memphis rapper Moneybagg Yo to blaze the stage with his hit single “Okay” featuring Future.
With so many celebrity appearances, collaborations, and performances ComplexCon the curated convention lived up to its theme as the millennial generation’s world fair.