What I Saw at Agenda

The first thing that happened when I walked in the door was I got lost. They’d reorganized a bit and it took me a minute to get oriented. My problem- not Agenda’s. When I saw they had finally opened up the Berrics and included it in the flow of the show I was happy and more than willing to be slightly disoriented for a minute. Excuse me for pointing out I suggested doing that a couple of years ago.

I was also glad to see that they had mostly kept the booths small. There was the inevitable expansion of a few of the larger brands, but as long as we can stay away from two stories, I’m happy. I think most brands have figured out it’s your consumer, not your competitors, you need to impress. It’s a very democratic show. That’s a good thing.

Let’s see. I really like Roark Revival. Some of their product pieces are intriguing, but what really got my attention was how they connected the product to travel and exotic locations and activities. Seems like it should be a boutique kind of brand because those are the only retailers that are going to be able to merchandise it correctly. There can’t just be product and a brand sign. A way to connect the product to the experience (are pictures enough?) will be required.

It’s not like Roark was the first one to do this. I don’t know if they were first, but one of the brands that figured it out early, for better or worse, was Hollister. It worked for a while. I honestly admired what they did, though I wish somebody in the surf industry had figured it out first.

I was amused to see GoPole (mounts and accessories for GoPro cameras) right across from GoPro. It will be interesting to see if GoPro can stay ahead of everybody in terms of technology.

Okay, Beercan Boards. Longboards made from recycled aluminum. I love these guys. Now, I have no idea if there boards ride well, but I love the way they look. If you talk to them they freely admit, “We make great longboards, but we have no clue about this market.” That’s not an exact quote but, damn it, it’s the basis for a marketing campaign. I personally think they should claim supply is limited because they can only make boards as fast as they can drink beer to provide the aluminum. They should plead with supporters to crush and send them their empties.

Retailers seemed to fit into two categories. The older guys know that things are changing and that they need to adapt. But it’s almost like they are in mourning for the way things used to be. I hope that doesn’t keep them from responding fast enough. Then there are the younger retailers who are busily conceptualizing their customer’s needs and their image in their community and doing all kind of stuff. It’s not always clear that it’s the right stuff, but they keep experimenting.

Take lots of small risks.

I don’t understand underwear. Look, I can get it on in the morning and off in the evening so I kind of understand it. But the part where people are paying $25 to $35 or so a pair is not within my cognitive abilities, though I admire the brands that are making it work. Maybe we’re seeing an attempt to price certain men’s items like women’s. Perhaps it’s the small luxury thing.

I know I’m not the target market. Only one woman is going to see me in my underwear. If there’s ever a circumstance where another does, and she’s not a doctor, nurse, paramedic or undertaker, I’m probably in deep shit. And the guys at the gym don’t seem to care.

It’s very interesting that we can create a category out of a commodity. Not the first time I suppose. I wonder what it tells us about our customers.

Agenda has replaced ASR without becoming like ASR. That’s a good thing.

10 replies
    • jeff
      jeff says:

      Hi Aaron,
      Just keep doing new things. It’s probably good if I walk in the show and find myself disoriented for a minute. Keeps my attention.

    • jeff
      jeff says:

      Hi LBK,
      Thanks, I was pretty pleased with it myself. Hopefully, it was amusing but it really did make me wonder about our customers and their motivations.

      • mark
        mark says:


        That underwear comment was classic. I read it exactly like I would have heard it from about 6 of my mentors in our industry. Spot on.

        • jeff
          jeff says:

          Hi Mark,

          I had fun with that. But I was serious about asking what it told us about our customers.

          Thanks for the comment,


  1. Abercrombe Ian Fitch
    Abercrombe Ian Fitch says:

    Great post, as always, Jeff. and nice bumping into you at the show.

    To me, what was remarkable (and inspiring) was the lack of “sameness” of one unitary look being peddled. Usually you walk into the show (and I would include Liberty/Capsule, etc.) and are instantly blown away by the fact that every male Exhibitor there is rocking ONE trend (19th century lumberjack, handlebar moustache, pants cuffed or not cuffed, the “everyone has a plaid flannel” year, the contrast color pocket tee show, and going back a few years, all in a beanie or even the skulls & tattoo period, etc.). This show was all over the place, stylistically and aesthetically. That’s a great thing. Brands not being afraid to set trend, and not chasing the copy. Lots of individual looks and tribes represented, as if no one yet knows where the next “look” will be. That’s what we want to see.

    • jeff
      jeff says:

      Greetings Mr. Fitch,

      That’s a good point and I didn’t notice it. But I’m not quite sure it’s a good thing. I’ve heard some people suggest that apparel sales are soft (that seems to be for everybody I talked to) precisely because there is no trend everybody can grab on to. There no thing or style it’s urgent to have.

      Good to see you too.


  2. michael
    michael says:

    I know we’ve been down this path before…but next time you’re at AGENDA…just grab a pair of Saxx.
    They will change your life.
    You can thank me later

    • jeff
      jeff says:

      Hi Michael,
      I would have to believe they’d change my life to pay that price for a pair of underwear. They are lucky I’m a cheap bastard and not the target customer. I know you’re being somewhat tongue in cheek, but wouldn’t it worry you just a little if anybody actually expected their life to change due to underwear? Yeah, I know- we’re kind of selling that as in industry.


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