Two trade shows arrived in the Palm Springs, Calif., area last week — FashionGo’s apparel showcase and the Hall of Flowers cannabis event.
Guess which one made the buzz?
Even the women who worked at the FashionGo registration booth Thursday morning at the Palm Springs Convention Center had FOMO.
“We hear they’re bringing people in from all over and traffic is blocked on 111 [freeway]they said of Hall of Flowers.
Inside the convention center lobby, the hundred or so FashionGo vendors were no happier, staring at passers-by like high schoolers at the ball waiting to be asked to dance.
Meanwhile, about five miles east, in a space that was once a Burlington Coat Factory, Hall of Flowers resembled the Coachella of cannabis with a grassy, pillow-strewn outdoor consumer lounge, an on-site dispensary , food trucks and a cheering crowd down to hang in the 90+ degree heat.
California has been at the forefront of cannabis cultivation and cultivation for a quarter of a century and is one of 19 states that currently allow recreational use. With approximately $97 billion in legal and illicit sales in the United States in 2021, cannabis consumer spending now exceeds spirits ($86 billion), according to a recent study by New Frontier Data.
The premium, business-to-business Hall of Flowers event kicked off in 2020 in Santa Rosa, California, before expanding to Southern California, bringing together 396 cannabis brands and technology providers, and 3,400 attendees in Cathedral City the May 4 and 5. (Hall of Flowers has three more events planned for 2022 – in Toronto, Santa Rosa, California and Las Vegas.)
Not to be confused with its non-psychoactive CBD cousin, cannabis is all about getting high, so the focus was on the flower. But the fashion sprouted at the event, where the wardrobe among attendees included Gucci and Louis Vuitton bags, streetwear, sneakers, pot leaf necklaces and pot leaf print bucket hats from the Los Angeles Sherbinskis dispensary on trendy Fairfax Avenue.
As at most trade shows, there was plenty of swag, from logo tote bags, lighters, grinders and papers to non-medicated versions of cannabis hot sauce and gummies, all aimed at developing loyal tribes of budding brands.
Merch is an important part of the dispensary business.
“Cannabis is very culture-driven, and let’s be honest, there are a lot of cannabis companies that do all of their marketing through the sale of bags and t-shirts,” said Whitney Beatty, Founder and CEO of Josephine & Billie’s.
Opened last year, the new speakeasy-style pot store named after Josephine Baker and Billie Holliday, which counts Parent Co.’s Jay-Z as an investor, sells jeweled lighter covers, “Buy Weed From Women” and other paraphernalia up front, and — after visitors say the password, “Billie sent me” to enter — cannabis products in a sleek 1,500 space square feet suspended from a chandelier in the back.
“We want to be a multi-state operator, and that’s what I can sell on the internet until we get to that point,” Beatty explained of using the merchandise to build his brand while sidestepping advertising restrictions and laws preventing cannabis sales across state lines.
“We’ve brought in a lot more non-cannabis brands to collaborate with because we believe this is the future – it’s about how we can play in this world and lead people into the next,” said Beatty.
Some cannabis brands have made fashion part of their DNA, including Sundae School, known for their Lychee Dragon 10mg THC gummies, Eureka Bullet mini joints – and Korean-inspired streetwear, including basketball shorts. knitwear with bong print and T-shirt printed with the slogan “Sundae School: Minimum GPA required for enrollment is 4.20.”
Launched in 2017, Sundae School sells cannabis wholesale and pivoted three years ago to a direct-to-consumer model for its apparel, after several seasons selling at Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue and American Rag, among others. .
The brand gained traction during the COVID-19 lockdown when it started selling face masks, but it was the fleeces that “changed the business”, said co-founder Dae Lim, who recently moved to Los Angeles from New York, where Sundae School showed during New York Men’s Fashion Week.
“I should have thought of this earlier – our whole concept is smoke wear, but when we started we were doing more structured pieces,” he said of how casual outerwear resonated with customers, including her mother.
At Pure Beauty, known for its potent sustainably grown flower and playful packaging, viewers Instagrammed photos of the brand’s emoticon-like eyes logo and an oversized cannabis cigarette pack sculpture in the center of the box. stand.
Co-founder Tracy Anderson explained how the brand drew inspiration from California-based artist John Baldessari’s conceptual style, including his 1966 work “Pure Beauty.” “Cannabis is in the Venn diagram with art and fashion…it’s a shift in perspective,” he said, noting his brand’s recent collaboration with British streetwear line Aries and an upcoming project related to Palace Skateboards.
At the Potent Goods booth, Juicy Couture’s Gela Nash Taylor and her son Travis Nash were showcasing their line of feather-trimmed hoodies, tropical floral and cannabis-print silk kimonos and shorts, windbreakers and pants. sweatpants, all with hidden pockets, alongside their new rosin spray pens in matching designs.
“I feel like this is where if we’re smart, it’s going to be crazy,” Nash Taylor said of the fashion and flower business she started last year. with her son, who in 1988 was her namesake baby. very first brand of maternity denim called Travis Jeans for The Baby In You.
“Everybody wants the clothes, but we have to figure out how to sell them,” she said, explaining that there are some restrictions on brick-and-mortar dispensaries selling non-cannabis products. (Like many cannabis laws, understanding and application is somewhat murky.) For now, Potent Goods sells on its own website.
“I’ll see if I can try to start old school by getting it on Net-a-porter and Dover Street Market,” Nash Taylor added, wearing a kimono and vape pen necklace, while cooling off with a Potent Goods paper fan and fend off onlookers trying to buy pieces from the $95-$250 clothing line on the spot.
“Nick Rhodes wants this one because John [Taylor] wore it all the time,” she said, holding up a matching silk shirt and shorts, in reference to her frontman husband Duran Duran and his bandmate, noting that they were celebrating the news of their induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Rock while selling cannabis in Cathedral City.
Not that she’s complaining: “There’s a lot of energy here — at a fashion show, people are jaded and a bit mean. Here, everyone is pretty happy.