The months of July and August saw us pack our bags once again as the good ‘ole US of States was calling for our presence and attention.
Since 2013 KING apparel has steadily been implanting the traditions of UK streetwear into the US market from coast to coast, via the Agenda and Liberty tradeshows, the network of agents across the country and a presence in some of the best stores the US has to offer.
This sustained growth and reputation has now led to a full US distribution deal being put in place for the brand as we partner up with one of the strongest teams in the sector and begin to make a serious indent into the homegrown brands market share.
Our first port of call was New York in July and the Liberty tradeshow. If you are the kind of sadist who loves to be in 35 degree sweltering humid heat, in a smoggy, dirty, city, then you should probably go to New York on holiday in July. The weather was fucked. You couldn’t walk out the door without being drenched in sweat, let alone think about getting a trade show set up, a look book photographed and all sorts of business meetings conducted in the space of one week.
We persevered with several daily changes of wardrobe (one of the industry advantages), intermittent showers and standing naked on the air conditioned subway…jokes.
The show, despite having the air con cranked up to -20 was a pleasurable event, albeit a little slow on the foot traffic. Nevertheless, many customers came by and it gave everyone the opportunity to see the new lines and discover the domestic distribution set up which will be taking us forward.
Despite the humid evenings, we went off the beaten track, leaving Manhattan behind and hit up the likes of Union City and Hoboken across the Hudson in New Jersey, to find more unusual settings for our lookbook shoots; as well as stumbling on an amazing Latino neighbourhood with the best Columbian and Honduran food on the planet.
As well as the show and trespassing illegally to take photos for our social media accounts, we also spent a couple of days taking in the Bronx and visiting many stores in the area as well as hooking up with our friend, Supreme legend and NY skateboarder Alex Corporan on the Lower East Side (See our other blog post here for more details)
Our second excursion to the land of the free was to the West Coast and Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego.
The Las Vegas Liberty show is hands down the best on the seasonal calendar. We are always rammed, heaving with customers and writing a lot of orders.
Las Vegas was also hot. Like 42 degrees hot. But they have everything prepared, so actually you never need to go outside and burn your face off to get stuff done. Three days of shows at The Venetian hotel was interspersed with an evening photo shoot at the amazing pool complex, (One thing about Vegas is that the desert light in the evening is incredible and makes for some serious pictures), watching West Ham get slapped up by Manchester United, trying to avoid eating crappy food and falling asleep at 8.30pm.
We got out of Vegas as soon as was humanely possible and drove on over to Los Angeles, basing ourselves out of Venice beach. From here we hit the freeways as appointments with the likes of MLTD (these guys are based near where ET was shot!) Karmaloop and Brooklyn Projects on Melrose had us cursing LA traffic, the even worse standard of American driving and their crappy choice of eating establishments throughout the city. Those three stores will be carrying the line for SS18 which is pretty fuckin' sick news.
Our last leg was San Diego and time to don the three-piece suit, bowler hat and leather suitcase as it was distributor business time. Our partners have a vertically integrated set up in Southern California that is a perfect base to get the line out to the whole country quickly, cost effectively and efficiently. We got the nuts and bolts out of the way in-between games of Double Dragon on an old coin-op arcade machine, pool and wondering why the fuck it was raining in this part of the world.
Overall a well worthwhile time spent on old ground but with new companions and the notion that the foundations laid in the past four years have provided a platform to show the United States that UK brands can roll just as hard as the US big boys.