Consumer-Focused ComplexCon Expands to Chicago

Reed Exhibitions gave a vote of confidence to its consumer-focused event ComplexCon, recently saying it would expand the show to Chicago after producing the pop-up retail market and hip-hop concert event in Long Beach, Calif., for a few years.

Right before announcing plans to expand ComplexCon to Chicago, Reed Exhibitions announced it was postponing its January edition of its Agenda business-to-business trade-show model in Long Beach.

The Chicago event will take place July 20–21 at the McCormick Place convention center, which bills itself as the largest convention center in North America with 2.3 million square feet.

ComplexCon Chicago is forecast to be comparable in size to the Long Beach event, which was attended by 60,000 people last November. Tickets cost $60 for one day and over $100 for the weekend.

More than 200 vendors, ranging from McDonald’s to Adi­das and the Black Lives Matter Network, exhibited at the Long Beach show. Retailers and brands such as Pacific Sunwear, Guess Jeans and Dickies Girl introduced new lines there, and hip-hop stars Nas, Future, Nipsey Hussle and Big Boi made appearances.

Reed produced a ComplexCon pop-up at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 2017, which had a huge turnout, said Neil Wright, ComplexCon’s event director.

While the company is focusing on Long Beach and Chicago for its ComplexCon events, there is room for expansion. “After three years we have a good idea of the main pillars that make our event unique and what brings people to ComplexCon. It is fashion, art, conversation, music and food. Once you have those, you can take ComplexCon anywhere and create relevant content for different audiences,” Wright said.

The ComplexCon announcement on Dec. 7 was released a few weeks after Reed postponed the January run of its Agenda trade show in Long Beach. Both ComplexCon and Agenda take place at the Long Beach Convention Center. While the biannual Agenda Las Vegas trade show will continue to offer a business-to-business forum for apparel and footwear vendors, Agenda’s summer show in Long Beach and a possible return of the Agenda show in Long Beach in January 2019 will only offer business-to-consumer exhibitions.

Recently, Emerald Expositions canceled the Interbike trade show after a 36-year run. The bicycle trade event last took place in Reno, Nev. It may return in 2020, but it will be produced to be more affordable to vendors and attendees, said Darrell Denny, an Emerald Expositions executive vice president, in an interview with Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.