Skip to main content

Freshness Conversations: Aaron Levant, Founder of Agenda Tradeshow

  • Author:
  • Updated:

[column width="50%"]Ten years ago, a show was started to bring brands together to give them a voice, an outlet, a vehicle to promote their goods and messages. It was this initial coming together of brands that would eventually change the face of the apparel industry and help bring rise to streetwear. Today, the Agenda show is the premier event for many labels looking to showcase and sell their products and has become a legitimate force in the highly competitive world of apparel and accessory based tradeshows.[/column]

[column width="50%"]Aaron Levant is the founder and visionary behind Agenda and as the industry he covers changes so does he. Already having made his mark in New York City and Long Beach, Aaron and his Agenda show are entering the mecca of the tradeshow world, Las Vegas, for the first time later this summer. And Just as he did ten years ago, he's bringing the community together once again for a new endeavor entitled "Modern Assembly". Read on as Aaron Levant discusses Agenda's past and it's future.[/column]

[column width="50%"]It's been 10 years since you started the Agenda Show, what was the first show like? Agenda's first show was 2003 in the back of a Thai restaurant in Long Beach. The show consisted of 30 or so brands. It was a great learning experience. In hindsight, I had no idea what I was doing, but I was passionate about providing a platform for like-minded brands in art, street, indie culture to show up together.[/column]

[column width="50%"]What brands were shown at the first show? Out of the thirty or so brands that showed at the first show, the only two that are still around are Howe and TheSeventhLetter. But we had the likes of Green Apple Tree, Scifen, Red Five, Savier (Nike's short-lived attempt skate brand), Twenty Five, and more.[/column]

[column width="50%"]How did you get started? AGENDA started as a series of one-night art shows in our warehouse. I was an exhibitor at the ASR show and at Magic showing with small indie lifestyle streetwear brands such as Green Apple Tree, Matador and Leche. We were fed up with being the little guys hidden in the corner. In 2001, I watched the TBC show and I was very inspired by their take as the rebel tradeshow making a place for the independent brands to ban and show together.[/column]

[column width="50%"]What did you study in school? I've never graduated high school and didn't go to college.At 17, I started working as an intern and worked my way from the ground up.[/column]

[column width="50%"]In 2010 the ASR show ended a 20 year run citing difficult economic times. Were you impacted? AGENDA wasn't impacted at all. In fact, 2008 thru 2010 were our years of huge growth. AGENDA experienced its biggest phase growth, where others were going out of business. I think our success was largely due to our ability to have our finger on the pulse of the youth market culture, paired with our ability to think and act outside the box. Unfortunately this caused the dinosaurs to go out of business.[/column]

[column width="50%"]In the years since the recession, your show has grown a lot. What changes did you make to convince brands to show at Agenda? AGENDA is not focused on "selling". Instead, we focus on curating the best and most authentic show experience, where brands and retailers naturally gravitate towards AGENDA.[/column]

[column width="50%"]What was your wish list of brands you wanted when you first started and is now an exhibitor? The first three that come to mind are: Stussy, Nike and Obey.[/column]

[column width="50%"]This Summer, you and six other shows are combining to become Modern Assembly for the Summer Las Vegas Market. What lead to this "assembly"? I've been friends with Sam from Liberty and all the girls from Capsule for many years. AGENDA's been toying with the idea of a Vegas show for a while. Modern Assembly formed as a strategic alliance between AGENDA, Liberty, Capsule, MRket, Accessoriestheshow, and Stitch all have our own unique audience, we've all joined forces as a one collective energy under one roof.

Each show is our own stand alone business unit, expertly curating our own market. Sure, it was an option to embark on our own Vegas tradeshow, but ultimately felt joining forces would enable us to provide a service that is unparalleled in brand selection, merchandising, and customer service. By pooling together all our resources we are able to provide a better business for everyone involved. We revisited the idea and it made perfect sense.[/column]

[column width="50%"]As part of Modern Assembly, what about Agenda should we look forward to? AGENDA Vegas will be tightly curated show, highlighting lifestyle, and streetwear, activating with both on-site and off-site art, music, lifestyle events.[/column]

[column width="50%"]Big shows can be confusing for the attendee. Are you worried? No, the AGENDA Vegas show is a quarter the size of your traditional Vegas shows, expertly curated with tight easily "shoppable" neighborhoods. From day one, our mission statement has been "lines speak for themselves and buyers are not intimidated by the usual overwhelming tradeshow experience"…we intend to stick to our motto in Vegas.[/column]