When Aaron Levant announced his plans to depart from both Agenda and ComplexCon, the streetwear market took a moment to catch its collective breath. Levant had slayed the giant to become a dominant force for change and growth in how the streetwear and trade show industries do business. Bringing the trade show out of the dark ages and into the contemporary light was no small feat and the industry waited, and still waits, to see what happens next.
Former Nike Sales Director and VP of sales at MAGIC, industry veteran Ron Walden has stepped up as parent group Reed Exhibitions new Vice President. Charged with heading up fashion and festival events such as Agenda, Agenda Festival, ComplexCon and more to come, we took a moment to ask Walden five very pressing questions.
What brought you to Reed Exhibitions?
I’ve been in the industry for over 25 years. Starting out working for a manufacturer, then becoming their sales rep, then their sales manager. I moved over to the trade show industry as VP of Sales at the Magic Trade Show. Transitioning back over to the manufacturer side working for arguably one of the most notable lifestyle brands & largest manufacturer, Nike, and most recently serving as their Senior Sales Director. I’ve retuned to the trade show side as Group VP of Fashion & Festivals at Reed Exhibitions. I believe the future of the trade show business has evolved from fashion to festival. Exhibiting with Nike, I experienced the evolution first-hand at Agenda Long Beach’s summer festival and ComplexCon events. Both events are the top-of-class and really a benchmark in our industry. I believe the future of our industry is connection and experience and I want to be a part of that.
What changes to Agenda and ComplexCon can we expect?
One thing we can count on is change. Our industry is constantly evolving. We are listening closely to the needs and demands of our industry partners, brands, retailers, sponsors, as well as the their consumers. We strive to build a dynamic product and experience, increasing the value proposition and innovating the experience to better service our industry. The new summer edition format sees Agenda’s traditional B2B on June 28 and 29 with the festival on June 30th featuring pop up shops, branded experiences, contests, live-podcasts, workshops, musical performances and more. This is where consumers can buy merchandise from their favorite brands. In addition, the Dew Tour is co-located June 28-July 1. Meanwhile, we’ll be identifying new opportunities to curate lifestyle experience for our consumers.
Aaron Levant stays on as a consultant. Can you let us know more about what his role will be?
As the founder and creative genius behind Agenda and ComplexCon, it is important to have Aaron’s input. He’ll be assuming a creative leadership role where I will be working closely with him, to stay on brand and, with his guidance, we will not lose sight of his vision and the show brand’s integrity.
What is the current role of the trade show?
Our role is to connect our brands with their consumers. From the B2B side, we connect brands with their retailers, media, distributors, etc. From the B2C side, we connect the brands with their consumers’ consumer.
Our industry is always evolving and we strive to innovate to stay ahead creating a premium experience and product to service our industry’s needs. We’re devoted to organizing, curating, and managing events, working with premium brands in the fashion lifestyle, youth culture, art, and music space to deliver experiences for our consumers and their fans. We’re dedicated to facilitating celebrations of fashion, art, music, and popular culture around the globe that transcend ordinary events by providing unique access and dynamic personal experiences, connecting business with consumers thru experience.
How do you best embrace consumers? Is open-to-the-public the answer? And, if not, what is?
The best way to embrace is to connect with your consumer and engage in an authentic environment. Find out what’s important to them. Pay close attention, listen to their needs and understand how they measure their ROI. Making sure our business proposition engages what’s important to them and assists in facilitating a platform that includes their goals. We are building an industry experience that services both consumers from the B2B wholesale side, as well as the B2C public-facing side. We are the conduit facilitating story-telling and marketing brands connecting directly with their end consumer.