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Launch date: New SoCal trade show set for July 2012

November 2, 2011 |  6:00 am

Saturdays surf Launch
A new trade show focusing on all things Southern California lifestyle -– apparel, accessories, grooming products and gadgets -- is scheduled to start up next summer in Santa Monica.

Called Launch, the show is slated to debut July 25-26, 2012, at Santa Monica Airport’s Barker Hangar and will present a juried selection of brands showing edited and best-of pieces of their spring/summer 2013 collections to buyers and industry press.

Joshua Hunter, the former editor-in-chief of action sports trade publication Transworld Business, and head of sales and marketing for the soon-to-launch Launch, envisions the show, which will have a maximum capacity of 150 exhibitors, as a kind of antidote to his own experiences on the sprawling trade show floor.

“I covered all of these shows,” Hunter said. “And whether I was at MAGIC, ASR, Surf Expo or Bread & Butter, from a coverage standpoint there were certain things that I liked and certain things I didn’t like. One of the difficult things was having a thousand appointments to sort through, and buyers are always pressed for time and the media is always pressed for time.”

“So our plan is to keep it to the best brands, with those brands bringing a distilled selection –- really the
pinnacle of their collections, the exciting stuff –- not their whole spring/summer collections.”

He said the July show date -- falling a month before MAGIC takes place in Las Vegas-- was a strategic Launch Yokoyama Thomsonmove to catch buyers and media at the beginning of the spring and summer buying season. "We want this to be place where things can really debut," Hunter said. "And we want brands to really make the most out of the front end of the sell cycle."

In addition, Hunter says, whether it’s a fledgling fashion label or a board sport behemoth, all exhibitors will show in either a 10-foot by 8-foot single space (at a cost of $2,995) or a 20-foot by 8-foot double space (for twice that) “to kind of level the playing field.”

Although he acknowledges that surf and skate brands are an important aspect of the Southern California lifestyle vibe, Hunter says it would be a mischaracterization to cast the new show as simply filling the void after the San Diego-based ASR trade show announced its indefinite suspension in November 2010. 

“We’re looking at a whole world outside of action sports out there that doesn’t fit neatly [into that category], brands like Baxter of California [grooming products] for example. Or if some start-up came up with something that allowed you to shoot 3-D video on your iPhone, that would be something to include. On a broad level, look at what Urban Outfitters has done. They’ve got clothes but they’ve also got jewelry and gadgets and other cool stuff.”

Hunter said the aim is to attract retailers that skew slightly higher-end, who cater to a 14- to 30-year-old demographic (male and female) with merchandise that includes men’s and women’s contemporary lines, denim, swimwear, accessories and footwear that taps into the SoCal feeling – Barker Hangar Interior Exteriorwhether or not it actually hails from here. (Hunter says he’s already fielded calls from as far away as Australia and Japan.) 

Of course, surf and skate are still a major component – as evidenced by the crew recruited to serve as the jury that selects the brands. To date they include the trio behind SoHo's Saturdays Surf NYC boutique (Josh Rosen, Morgan Collett and Colin Tunstall), Michael Tomson (co-founder of the Gotcha label) and Jeff Yokoyama (a co-founder of the Maui & Sons brand who later went on to create the Modern Amusement and Generic Youth labels).

The parent company of Launch, which will be held annually, is GLM, which produces Surf Expo in Orlando, Fla., and the New York International Gift Fair in New York City, and which was acquired by Providence Equity Partners in October 2011.

Hunter said the show had received 20 exhibitor applications since the show was announced late last month but declined to share any names since the jury has yet to make decisions. He said he hopes to have the inaugural Launch lineup locked in by Jan. 15, 2012.


Surf's Up: PacSun corrals SoCal's bigget action sports brands (and athletes) for a new campaign

San Diego's ASR trade show is a no-go

Gotcha Rides Third Wave in Surf Styles

 -- Adam Tschorn

Photos: At top left, the trio behind Saturdays Surf NYC (left to right, Morgan Collett, Josh Rosen and Colin Tunstall) will be part of the jury that chooses which brands will exhibit at Launch. Other jury members named to date are Jeff Yokoyama (center left) and Michael Tomson (center right). The new trade show is scheduled to take place at Santa Monica's Barker Hangar (bottom) July 25-26, 2012. Credit: Launch