ComplexCon celebrates sneaker culture

What happens when sneakerheads, hypebeasts, exclusive product drops and celebrities converge?

You get ComplexCon, a two-day convention, which took place in Chicago for the first time July 20-21 at McCormick Place.

The event featured well-known brands like Champion, Fila, Reebok and Puma, as well as local vendors, which included Rich Girl Candy and Kristopher Kite.

Mieka Reese is the owner of Rich Girl Candy, the company began six years ago when Reese was pregnant with her son, PJ.

“It started off with consignment and Rich Girl Candy accessories for girls,” she said. “The brand and stuff just took off.”

Reese said she is very much a tomboy but likes frills and pastel colors. On Sunday, Rich Girl Candy dropped a dress that Reese described as “a play on a tomboy princess,” a pastel pink hoodie and long sheer skirt.

“As a Black woman, it means a lot for me to be here,” she said. “I wanted to do something just to show the girl crowd, do a braid bar to do something exclusive for the women that come.”

Kristopher Kites, of, started about a year ago, creating pendants with cartoon figures incased in a Lucite brick with Lucite chains to match. He said he came up with the idea through his childhood.

“I just wanted a lot of chains and I love action figures and chains,” he said. “I just put a piece of me in all of my designs.”

Kites said he was inspired by what he saw at ComplexCon.

“It’s dope because you get to see a lot of people; to see the creativity that is unleashed here,” he said.

One local designer even dropped a collaboration with major athletic apparel company. Alonzo Jackson, of Fashion Geek, debuted a Puma collab on Saturday.

“It feels amazing we’re doing this in my hometown and ComplexCon is here for the first time,” he said. “It’s only right we make sure it looks right.”

Jackson, who has been a designer for 15 years, described the collab as a convergence. In the collection are socks, a fanny pack and two sneakers, one with the Fashion Geek trademark primary colorblock and the other with puzzle pieces in the primary colors.

“Everything we’re doing we’ve been doing for year, so when Puma came it was just easy to give them a taste of what we do,” he said.

In addition to the collaboration, Jackson is set to open a South Loop location of his store.

There was also an opportunity to help a good cause and support a non-profit organization. Social Works was on-hand to sell shirts, with the organization’s logo and the Champion brand. The proceeds went toward raising funds for the Chicago Public Schools students.

“ComplexCon, it’s the culture. Just to have an opportunity for Social Works to be here is really cool,” said executive director Justin Cunningham.

Cunningham said the highlight of being at ComplexCon was getting to meet people.

“I also want to keep using Social Works as a vehicle to let people know how easy it is to support,” he said. “I’m so happy to show up here with Champion to create another moment to fund CPS students.”

The Champion brand is celebrating its 100thyear in business with the Knickerbocker Knitting  Collection, the company’s original name. It released 100 hoodies, shorts, t-shirts and sweatshirts in the collection during ComplexCon, with the vintage logo. There was also an opportunity to purchase the Tank Sneaker, which is set for release for Fall ’19.

“This is a big launch and a big push for us,” said Jen Krug, spokesperson for Champion.

Champion brought its customization to the convention as a way to interact with attendees. There was an option to get clothing heat pressed, embroidered or screen printed.

“You can truly create a unique garment and create something that’s unique to you from start to finish,” Krug said.

Matt Waterman, general manager of Champion, said what has made the brand last for 100 years is standing for they are as a brand.

“Since day one, it’s been about teams,” he said. “Whenever there’s been groups of people with common interest, Champion has been there.”

Waterman added, customization always has been part of Champion’s brand.

“It’s new but it’s old. Champion has really been a pioneer of customization

Waterman said the aim of Champion at ComplexCon was to connect with guests.

“We want to make sure we’re never resting on our laurels,” he said. “We’re looking ahead to what’s next; taking advantage of the history we have but always looking forward.”


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