Are streetwear festivals the real deal? We interviewed a cool person to find out

Ah, streetwear festivals.

Two words one may consider oxymoronic in nature have actually become a real phrase: after all, phenomenons like Hypefest and Complex Con are effectively a Coachella for retired hypebeasts.

As roast-able as hype culture is, events like these are do ultimately represent the pulse of the dynamic, ever-changing streetwear industry, which is a pretty exciting realm of fashion right now.

I myself, the author of this article, attended Hypefest and felt like the least hype person there, in terms of attire at least. I can only imagine how I’d have fared at Complex Con, Hypefest’s more established older brother.

Because I wasn’t about to stick around and find out: enter Alexander Roth, our resident streetwear confidant among other fancy words. We trust both his style and his take, so we sent him to Complex Con in LA and asked him to report back.

Upon his return, I spoke to Alex about his experience. This is his story. *cue Law and Order outro*

What made you want to go to Complex Con in the first place?

Two reasons, really. First, I simply hadn’t yet been to Complex Con and I’ve been wanting to go. Which leads to the second reason: why would somebody want to go in the first place? To have access to items not released to the general public, the opportunity to make a profit as well as the chance to see all the people I don’t necessarily see all the time on the West coast. And maybe one last reason— to experience the “culture” behind Complex Con and make my own judgement about it.

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What were you expecting it to be like?

Well, a month back, I went to Hypefest, which is similar to Complex Con, though on a smaller scale. I expected a similar set up — brands with booths carrying sought-after merch with lines of fans waiting to have the opportunity to buy. Knowing how complex Complex Con is (pun intended), I imagined I’d see lots of fights (to be expected), some good artist performances, and a lot of broken-hearted Hypebeasts.

And what was it actually like?

Pretty much as I expected; I just wasn’t ready for it (laughs). There were way more people and happenings than I expected there to be, but it was all still pretty chill for me. I went to support the homies who had booths – shout out to JC, Nicolai, and the rest of the GUESS Jeans fam.

The brands definitely got their money’s worth for being there. It’s insane to see some smaller brands that I’ve been watching for a while have the same level of hype at Complex Con as the heavy hitters. I think that was the best part for me — seeing brands I love flourish in a space like that.

Describe the typical Complex Con goer. 

It varied. It seemed the bulk was in the 18-25 age group and an equal number of men and women. That didn’t surprise me since the streetwear culture has changed quite a bit toward genderless styling.

It’s now more common for girls to be shopping in the guys’ sections at stores, a guy’s girlfriend to be going through her guy’s closets to grab that sweatshirt or pant, you know. Streetwear is becoming just as much about the girls as it has been for the guys; I think it’s smart that some brands have seen this and already switched focus for  how they market, create, and showcase their collections.

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So, what’d you wear?

Oh, you already know! I wore an Alpha Industries flight suit with a bag from Virgil’s first collection at Louis Vuitton. For the shoes, I had to stay true and wear some beat-up Chucks.

And how do you like Los Angeles compared to New York?

Let me start by saying I’m not at all surprised Sarah put in this question, considering this is her favorite topic.

Without being cliché, I honestly think they are completely different. New York will always be my home, but I like LA for different reasons. I have a different crowd there I rock with, I grew up always getting from one place to another in a car (not the case in NY) so its nostalgic in a weird way, and just the atmosphere in general is different. I like New York because it has an element of originality to it I think LA lacks.

I like both, but honestly, it has to be New York for me (I can feel Sarah roasting me right now).

Lol, that discussion is to be continued later. Do you plan on going back to Complex Con next year? Are you stoked or are you over it?

I’d go back for Complex Con weekend but I probably wouldn’t attend Complex Con itself. However, I would definitely recommend for someone to go if they haven’t gone yet. It’s a real eye-opener for anyone with an interest in the current state of streetwear.

It’s much bigger than a marketplace for brands and fans. People come to LA from around the world just for this one weekend. There are people attending along the entire fashion spectrum it’s great for those who want to learn, shop or just be emerged in the experience—doesn’t matter. The bottom line is, go because you want to go, no need to overthink it.

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Photography – Jackson Ray


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