The premise behind Complexcon is, well, it’s complicated. Complex itself is a media juggernaut that seeks to blend all things popular culture. They believe that, in the internet age, people no longer categorize themselves so strictly and the amalgamation of identities, cultures and interests has produced a new generation of youth culture, a more accepting, more eclectic individuality, one that changes rapidly and is thirsty for the new.

To this end, Complex staged its inaugural Complexcon this past weekend in Long Beach, California. At Complexcon, the media outlet sought to blend all their interests from music to commerce to fashion and lifestyle in one spot. They sold tickets, brought in media and seemed to have quite the hit on their stylish hands.

Atmosphere at Complexcon.
© Douglas Cringean
Atmosphere at Complexcon.

The convention proved yet another coup for the LA County city of Long Beach, which is proving to be breaking ground for all that’s hip. After all, Complexcon’s parent company already houses their other baby, streetwear show Agenda, twice yearly in the exact same locale. So street cred aplenty paved the way for this new brand of “open to the public” trade show. As Comic Con has proven, let people buy their way into what they feel is either exclusive or previewed content and they will pay.

This made for a rather crowded atmosphere but it didn’t seem to take away from the head bumping to each DJ that took the stage, as the crowd either waited in long lines at the Complex store or gathered around booths for product reveals.

The highlight of the show was, of course, Pharrell Williams who took the G-Star Raw booth by storm as he unveiled his brand spanking new Elwood X25 collection as his first stint as G-Star Raw Head of Imagination. With the 3D G-Star icon celebrating its 20 year anniversary, Pharrell took on a fresh interpretation, showcasing an Alpine background and 25 colorful jeans prints hanging in mid air. From camouflage, check, stripes and other elaborate patterns, the Complexcon display celebrated the brand’s unique denim heritage and commitment to the self-expression that was the order of the day at Complexcon. With Pharrell also serving as the convention’s cultural director and host committee chair, the star’s low-key, cool appearance made an even stronger statement.

Pharrell Williams at Complexcon presenting his Elwood X25 collection for G-Star.
© G-Star
Pharrell Williams at Complexcon presenting his Elwood X25 collection for G-Star.

Another of the weekend’s strong points was the Capsule Market Square shopping area, which brought 35 progressive menswear labels from around the world for show and sale in a large, well thought out little retail space amid the Complexcon hustle and bustle. Plus PacSun was there along with crowd favorites like Bathing Ape, Coolhaus, Call of Duty and Creative Recreation, to name only a few. Talks were given by the likes of Steve Aoki, Bobby Hundreds, Raekwon and Wiz Khalifa, again to name only a smattering, along with panels on topics such as education, the future of streetwear, sports media and wrestling coming of age.

Capsule Market Square at Complexcon.
© Douglas Cringean
Capsule Market Square at Complexcon.

But many would say that the convention truly belonged to the night, where live performances transformed the Convention Center. There was Skillrex, Kid Cudi, Khalid, Snoop Dogg, Chief Keef, Bia and Yung Jake with numerous other big names performing to a crowd that seemed to have been born knowing all the words. With a crowd as interesting or, in fact, more interesting than the acts they were all paying good money to see, Complexcon certainly juggling the boundaries of art imitating life and they will, no doubt, make this event a more regular occurrence.