Kids don’t scrounge up change and beg their parents for movie money anymore. Six Flags is no longer the wave. Their taste have grown more expensive and the bulk of their viewing pleasure comes from IG.
That stood out clear Saturday at the Agenda Show and Festival inside Long Beach’s convention center where streetwear brands fought for market share from Gen Z’ers and legacy lines like Levi, Dickies, Champion, Umbro, and even Eastpak pivoted to an adolescent buyer base.
Dickies may have perhaps planned it best with their Chinatown Market collaboration. Far from its one-time purpose as the blue-collar brand , like a Carhartt, and no longer the cholo’s choice for fashion, Dickies left this weekend’s show closer aligned with the future.
The scheme wasn’t unfamiliar; Dickies linked with one of the most-hyped brands of the moment for what they called a “Bootleg Workshop.” Attendees who waited in line would receive a free Dickies piece of their choice and have it personalized by Chinatown Market employees at no cost. That resulted in white pants being airbrushed or hoodies being emblazoned with iron-on symbols. CTM’s signature hand laser printer glided across a wild amount of shirts for the daylong exhibit.
And for some, like myself, it took all day to reach the actual workshop. Those and all who followed behind me in the quest for a 1 of 1 piece from such a hot commodity would have our goals mostly unfulfilled. After five hours in line, moving at turtle time to reach the front, we got around the final switchback of the windy queue to find out they booth was taking 20 more people and the rest would have to piss off. I was number 27. After some slight haggling, I was able to get a pair of black coveralls, though without customization, and get some laser print action on a t shirt of my own I brought. The “L” handed to me for waiting so long reduced to a lowercase one.
The wait in line with kids who cut and complained, along with moms who brought along Werther’s, and the fervor that shot through the crowd when faces like Danielle Fishel (Topanga from “Boy Meets World”) and star du jour Backpack Kid swung through the Bootleg Workshop created a Disney-like atmosphere. Their cameos were identical to Pooh or Tigger popping up in Critter Country.
Feline-facing brand Rip n Dip handed out aluminum balloons to fans added to amusement park feeling. A small skate park toward the back of show grounds brought it the edge teens craved, as did the assortment of pod vapes and small whiffs of ganja scurrying through the center.
Inside of the festival arena, where names like Yung Lean, Billie Eilish, and Brockhampton took the stage, edge was given an aural element to pair with the “vintage” Ozzfest t-shirts, the Sean Wotherspoon Air Max, and eclectic combos of colors and genres that have come into style.
Eilish snatched attention from the youth with kids taking turns waiting in line to catch a song or two and reporting back what they heard. Eilish’s own bootleg Gucci tees were sprinkled throughout the event space adding to the 16-year-old’s hype.
Lil Yachty, the one time “King of the Teens,” took the stage to run through his bevy of bangers, ending his set with a tribute to XXXTentacion, the arguable leader of the youth before his untimely death.
And closing the night was Brockhampton, playing their first show since the departure of Ameer Vann, the face on each of their three previous album covers. They opened their set by sitting on playground swings that hung from the top of the stage and swayed somberly, reflecting the depressive energy consuming this current generation.
Muffled sound and poor mixes stopped both Yachty and Brockhampton short of flawless performances but fans still sung along and held on to every word, moshing and jumping, in sync, to their biggest songs.
Thanks to the popularity of Agenda and events like it, it seems as if the Mickey Mouse Club will never matter again.
I listen to music. I write about it. I like hot sauce on my chicken.