Know?Show 2012: Growing Up, Bro


Call the Pacific North West (or ‘Gnarthwest’) what you want: ‘geographically isolated’ or ‘culturally insular’, Vancouver’s location affords us some unique (and awesome) societal and cultural characteristics.  For decades, Vancouver has promoted and nurtured its Skate / Snow / Surf scenes, creating a modern municipality wherein these trademark lifestyles are constantly manifested.

Despite these ‘subcultures’ being deeply engrained in our city’s identity, the ‘Bros’ and ‘Bro-ettes’ who partake in them are often still perceived in a negative light.  Being charged with clinging to adolescent ideals and fuelling an ambitionless path with parties and substance abuse, the Bros seem to have the odds stacked against them. In terms of legitimizing their pursuits and finding a place in the ‘real world’ to apply them, it is often misconstrued that they showed up to the skate park late… and are pushing mongo.

Ray Gordon’s Throttled exhibit takes us into the world of traditional hod rods and vintage motorcycles through pictures. The 25 colour photos show us Gordon’s favourite spots including drag strips, bike shops, and “secret forts”.

However, this view that the Bros of the world are ill-equipped to tighten up their shoelace belts and button down their plaids when it comes to doing business, is one that the KnowShow confronts head on.  Last week, the bi-annual, Vancouver based KnowShow (in 2010 it was held in Calgary) saw over 300 brands hold down real estate in the convention centre to interact with over 2000 retailers from across the country.  The reps were repping, buyers were buying and bigtime orders were made over Caesars and PBRs that could prove to sink or swim brands through the upcoming seasons.

Once inside, it becomes clear that KnowShow is much more than just a ‘tradeshow’.  Since its’ inception, KnowShow has established itself as as a channel through which Vancouver takes its’ distinctive home-grown action-sports ‘Bro’ culture, and uses it to promote and foster business growth.  While conventions and tradeshows are typically uninspiring, the fundamental creativity of the industry makes KnowShow stand out, even to outsiders.  Well-designed custom showrooms and booths lined the rows of exhibitors, providing comfortable setups to display product and interact with retailers and consumers.  While design heavy brands like RVCA, Lifetime, WeSC and Insight all upheld their house’s aesthetics at their booths, distributors like Vancouver’s Timebomb Trading also stood out, displaying even basic streetwear with stylish wooden fixtures and alongside eye-catching artwork.  There are DJs, art installations, and a whole array of stimulus to prevent you from even realizing you’re surrounded by business, until you accidentally stumble into someone’s sales session.  The creative energy that defines Vancouver’s favourite action-sports is apparent throughout the show, where these paramount values are stongly conveyed to the onlooker.

Time-Bomb Trading

Time Bomb Trading Shoe Display

Regardless of how you feel about the tightness of 2012’s jeans or next years’ colour palates, KnowShow is definitely a testament to Vancouver’s awesomeness.  To promote and protect the culture they were raised with, Vancouver’s Bros are growing up and evolving whether they like it or not.  With their presentations polished and product lines scrupulously studied, the Bros take over twice a year to put their otherwise useless relationships, passion, and product knowledge to use.

In the end, after the booths come down, the orders are placed and office / retail jobs are resumed, the KnowShow is more of a mechanism for growth than a Bro-down. Serving as a vehicle for people to develop their careers, sports and ultimately themselves, it is clear KnowShow isn’t giving up its spot anytime soon as the national hub for culture and commerce for Bros growing up.

Article by: Paul GT

Photos by: Joel Levy

New Era Display

HUF’s Hat Display

Some 70s throwback backpacks by Jansport paying homage to founder Skip.

Some really nice bags from Nixon

DC Boards

DC Boots

One of my favourite companies Element had a nice cabin setup

Justin, a new Dakine Rep was comfortable and professional as he took us through the line, despite it being his first KnowShow.

Dixon over at Time Bomb Trading taking potential buyers through their Boot selections

Popped in to say hello to our friends at Native Shoes.

They had a great shoe display

As well as boots

I am a big fan of The Berrics so was stoked to see that they had a booth.