You have a great foundation with Michael Tomson, Jeff Yokoyama, and the crew from Saturdays. Do you plan on adding more members to the board?
Absolutely. We’re thrilled to be working with all of our jurors, and looking forward to the next round of announcements.
How will exhibitor costs compare to other shows in the market?
We’ve seen the published rates for other shows and-assuming that’s what exhibitors are actually paying-we’re coming in at a very competitive price point. We don’t want the price to be prohibitive for younger labels and start-up brands that bring something fresh to the table.
That said, space is limited and we will not be discounting, so any brand that applies and is accepted can rest assured that the person in the space next to them paid the same rate as they did. We want to be clear about that from the get go.
The venue at the Santa Monica airport sounds really cool. Why did you decide to have this in LA in general and there in particular?
Located geographically and aesthetically between Dogtown and Fairfax, the Barker Hangar was an obvious choice. The feeling you get when you step inside and its proximity to great retailers is incredible. Los Angeles is at the forefront of a new fashion and retail movement on the West Coast, with brands that exude a distinct Californian appeal and fresh perspective. This is what LAUNCH brings to the market and the energy we want to focus on.
It also has a pretty cool history. A lot of people know the Hangar today because the Barneys Co-Op sale happens there each year, but it was originally where Howard Hughes kept several of his planes. Not to mention Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart, Depeche Mode, and all kinds of headliners have played shows in the Hangar. MTV had their movie awards there a few years back, all sorts of car commercials are filmed in there, and I was actually watching that alien invasion movie Battle Los Angeles on the plane last week and the Hangar gets blown up, in the movie, not reality.
But aside from all of that, the space has a great vibe. Arched steel truss ceilings hang 45 feet above the floor, and the hangar doors open up right on the runway at Santa Monica airport. You will literally look out the giant doors during the show and see palm trees swaying and private planes landing and taking off. It has a certain charm to say the least.
It’s also a non-union building, so load in and load out is going to be a breeze and we have the freedom to do pretty much anything you can imagine in there. It’s a blank canvas, without a stitch of tacky bowling alley carpet like you see in hotels and convention centers. Aesthetically speaking, if Chevy can make a mid-sized sedan look sexy in there, imagine what happens when you pack it full of the best designs from leading brands.
How will this show help encourage innovation in the action sports industry and beyond?
You know, Michael Tomson deserves a ton of credit. He’s been championing the need for innovation for years and if you watch the video we have posted on our site, he does a good job of articulating why that’s so critical.
Or Jeff Yokoyama, for instance. He has continually reinvented himself as a designer and creator, and he always had his hands on something relevant and interesting. His ability to evolve and stay ahead of trends comes from a clear perspective of the market, and that’s exactly what we’re looking for.
Then there’s the crew from Saturdays NYC. To me, these guys are a perfect example of a brand that has been able to take West Coast surf culture to another market in a way that’s both authentic and innovative. Plus, Josh was a pro snowboarder and also worked in the fashion industry for brands like G-Star, Colin was an art director for Esquire, and Morgan grew up in Newport Beach and has deep roots in the surf industry .
Once we announce our next set of jurors, it will be even more evident that we’re not just randomly selecting people. Each spot on the jury is reserved for someone with a unique vantage of the market.
Getting the jury’s feedback is important to encouraging innovation, but so is the timing and format of the show. Launch will be a venue where it will be easy to see and understand the products, designs and culture that makes the West Coast so special. The goal is to showcase those apex items and brands that lead the market.
It looks like the show will encourage a pretty eclectic mix of brands from streetwear and action sports. Do you envision the show being more about action sports brands reaching a broader audience, or action sports retailers being exposed to lines they otherwise wouldn’t?
I think labeling brands one thing or another these days is kind of like trying to find your favorite song by sorting through your iTunes library by genre. Alternative, indie rock, rock, fusion-I can’t tell the difference, but I know what I like. Brands, like music, are hard to define so rigidly. Especially now when there is so much cross over between markets.
But to answer your question, I’d love to see better action sports brands branch out into distribution channels they might never have thought possible. Conversely, I’d like to see action sports retailers exposed to brands completely outside of their box.
So many action sports “specialty retailers” have become dependent on a handful of large brands. This show will be a great opportunity for younger labels and smaller brands to go head-to-head on a level playing field with a wide variety of brands. It will all boil down to design and product presentation.
How can brands sign up for Launch?
The first step is to visit launchshow.com and click on the “Apply To Exhibit” tab in the navigation bar. That takes you to a really simple form. After brands fill out the form, we’ll reach out to them and begin the application process.
Retailers and media can sign up using a form on the site’s “Register To Attend” page.
Have you demoed the idea with brands and retailers? What has the feedback been on both sides of the fence?
We’ve been discussing the concept with people who we really trust for months, and even had a NDA or two signed here and there. Either people have been really kind, or they are truly and genuinely excited about it. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been challenged with some tough questions from some really smart people, but that forced us to think about things in a very critical, strategic way.
At this point, to say we measured twice and cut once would be an understatement, and I’m just relieved that I can finally talk about it.