Four years ago, when ComplexCon was in its infancy, it seemed a test run for a new concept: the open-to-the-public trade show. Since that time, this past weekend’s installment in Long Beach, California, proved that the show has evolved into a barometer for all things new and interesting in streetwear, music, sports, sneakers, activism, food, art and collectibles, serving an inclusive, millennial and Gen Z crowd that can’t get enough. ComplexCon is simply where it’s at for all things pop culture, exclusive releases, live music and, to quote festival organizers, it’s a place “to experience the future” with Pharrell directing the culture of the event and Takashi Murakami designing the visual identity.
The crowd at ComplexCon Long Beach was young, stylish and on point. They came for the hype and stayed to shop, eat and be seen. Celebrities got in on the action too, including, Lupe Fiasco and Ty Dolla $ign playing Call of Duty, Lil Yachty dancing in front of Kid Cudi’s live set, Selena Gomez making the rounds, Tyga supporting his capsule collection with Von Dutch, plus LL Cool J, Jhene Aiko, Master P and Jadakiss at the Def Jam Experience. Also onsite were Lil Pump, Tinashe, Ben Baller, Chuck D and American football stars Todd Gurley and Marshawn Lynch.There were sneaker drops such as the much anticipated Nike Kyrie 5 “Mom” shoe, dancing Murakami life size characters, a Ben Baller x Murakami limited-edition jewelry collection which went for $50,000 - $100,000 a piece, a sneaker care spa sponsored by Old Spice, a live podcast by The Read, and photo opportunities and live exclusives on site both days, all day.
Nighttime performances included standouts Kid Cudi, Lil Kim (who included a tribute to Biggie in her set), Pop Smoke, A Boogie Wit de Hoodie and Anderson Paak. Fans also attended the now famous ComplexCon(versations), a series that puts together the freshest minds and most open thought to discuss topics such as YouTube to movies, Gen Z’s role in the future, women changing the face of rap, the evolution of streetwear and the rise of airpop, to name but a few. Major cultural influencers such as Yara Shahidi, Isra Hirsi, Storm Reid, Lil’ Kim, Trina, Eve, Lil Yachty, Elaine Welteroth, Paul Pierce, Wale, Davido and more participated in these panel discussions.
This two-day extravaganza, which has made its home in Long Beach for four seasons now, also debuted this past summer in Chicago. It will only get bigger, better and cooler, and is an eye on the spending habits and interests of the youngest set of influencers. This is the evolution of retail, put together as only Complex can, touching on every single aspect of youth culture.