If you know anything about the sneaker or hip-hop community you know how much of a big deal ComplexCon is. It’s like what BeautyCon is for beauty gurus or what Vidcon is for youtubers but for hypebeasts and lovers of the culture alike.
The third annual convention/festival put together by Complex was held at the Long Beach Convention Center and it attracted fans from all over the country and probably even the world.
Whether you came for the music, art, food, style, innovation, activism, or simply just the hype, the experience was definitely something else – in a good way of course.
My motto this weekend was “do it for the culture,” but we’ll get there. As soon as I walked into the convention grounds the Supreme and expensive sneaker fomo was real! I have never seen as much Supreme under one roof as I did at ComplexCon. Everyone and their mothers were decked out in their poppin’ fits and fresh sneakers. It’s cool though because although I lacked the Supreme, your boys’ Adidas get up pulled a few compliments.
Walking around the main floor area was overwhelmingly lit. So many different booths, loud music playing, brands being showcased, and you guessed it freebies! I got there relatively early because I heard that Gary Vaynerchuk was having a conference and I’ve always wanted to hear that man speak. To my disappointment the ballroom where he was speaking was already too full and I was lowkey upset but hey things happen.
The rest of my day consisted of checking out different booths like Vintage Frames, McDonalds, Rip N Dip, Reebok, Puma, and many others. HBO was also there with a dope barbershop booth inspired by the unscripted series “The Shop” starring Lebron James and Maverick Carter. This was cool because it actually resembled a barber shop and they had on site celebrity barbers providing free haircuts throughout the weekend.
I caught up with Donald Long (@morethanacut) one of the celebrity barbers at The Shop who spoke with me about his start as a barber, barbershop culture, and the dynamic between barbers and their clients.
The Knockturnal: How did you get start your start as a barber?
Donald Long: It’s fun, easy, and simple. The moral of the story was my mother used to cut me and my brother’s hair, she got tired of doing it, I was the next man up. I gave it a try and it became a passion. This is where I am at today.
The Knockturnal: That’s funny I’ve actually attempted cutting my own hair before.
Donald Long: You should try, you won’t ever step foot in a barbershop again bro.
The Knockturnal: Beauty Salons and Nail salons are where women go do their thing, socialize, get pampered, and often times gossip. What differentiates a barbershop from that dynamic?
Donald Long: I can really say we gossip just as much, to be honest. I’m not gonna sit here and lie to you about that but I will say the difference between is most definitely the brotherhood. The barbershop and I say this to people all the time. The barber shop is the landmark to the community you know we’re making an impact inside and out so I will say the biggest difference I’m not really familiar with beauty salons but I can say for barber shops we’re out there constantly impacted the community. Kids, young kids, so forth.
The Knockturnal: Some people say that barbers are like psychologist in way and that the minute you sit in that chair it’s like a therapy session. You get hyped up and are given a self-esteem and confidence boost is this true what do you think about that?
Donald Long: You know that’s a good thing too because everywhere I go I see clients they introduce me to their family, grandparents, parents, you know whoever. So that makes me feel special. That really shows me what type of impact I have. I have been with people for special days and so-called bad days. I’ve been to funerals, weddings, I’ve been invited to everything so really it’s really about building those relationships with people. That’s what makes things big with barbering.
The Knockturnal: How would you describe barber and client relationships?
Donald Long: Barber and client relationships I could make this real quick, easy, and simple as well too. The opportunity to work with HBO was built off of relationships. It opened up many doors. I say from time to time and all the time that these tools right here open up more doors than any key ever in my life. You know? So with building those relationships and being able to open up doors for other people, it’s really big as far as making an impact but also build that relationship.
Shout out to Donald for letting me speak with him as he gave one of the festival goers a free haircut. While I was there I saw former Giants football player Victor Cruz posing for pictures with fans. I also heard that Nas, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Grant Hill, and Shiggy were some of the many people that stopped by the booth. If you haven’t seen HBO’s The Shop definitely check it out. Lebron James sits down at barbershops across the country with some influential people to talk about a variety of topics. Some of the dope people that have been on the show include Drake, Odell Beckham Jr., Ben Simmons, and Mo Bamba.
Other highlights of ComplexCon for me were the Four Loko and Buchanan booths that were handing out free samples of their drinks. You know I had to do it for the culture and stop by. Four Loko really came through and basically sponsored my lituation before I headed over to catch Rae Sremmurd’s performance. The booth had DJ Flosstradamus on deck providing some tunes and it was a nice little pregame. I did, however, take another L when I heard that J Balvin stopped by the Buchanan’s booth literally minutes before I did. He’s one of my favorite Spanish artists and it would have been dope to see him. It’s cool though because the turn up continued during Rae Sremmurd’s set.
It was so lit you guys. They performed some of their older songs and at one point they brought out Tyga to come out and sing Taste. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any more poppin Ozuna comes out to sing a couple songs and that’s when my wig was officially snatched. “Taki Taki” is my jam and the Hispanic side of me was living. There truly couldn’t have been a better way to end my day at ComplexCon and for that I am grateful! Next time I’ll keep the Supreme memo in mind and bring more money to drop on cool sneakers.