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ComplexCon Takes Chicago

Complex brought ComplexCon to the Windy City this year with some of the biggest names in music, fashion and sports, along with a new initiative that engaged hundreds of volunteers to help local communities.


ComplexCon will return to Long Beach, California, for the fourth year in a row this November, but this summer, Complex, a joint venture of Hearst and Verizon, took the highly successful culture fest on the road to Chicago, attracting over 30,000 visitors. The Chicago Tribune called it the “Super Bowl of exclusive brand collaborations, limited edition releases and all things ‘cool,’” with a star-studded lineup that included performances from Juice WRLD, Rick Ross and Saweetie; talks with Allen Iverson, Joe La Puma and Angie Nwandu; food from local and Michelin-starred chefs and exclusive merchandise, including a special collaboration with Champion, with proceeds going to charity. Complex also partnered with the Chicago Cubs to release a limited-edition clothing collection at Wrigley Field designed by ComplexCon Artistic Director Takashi Murakami. (Plus, fans had the chance to watch Hot Ones’ Sean Evans throw the first pitch at the Cubs’ game.)

Isis Arias, executive producer of ComplexCon, was responsible for the weekend’s festivities. “It was just a matter of us creating spaces where we could connect with our audiences and have them connect with the things that we love like hip-hop music, sneakers, street wear, fashion and style and food.”

“Chicago is a special city,” Arias said. “It has a very strong local sense of pride. So many brands and artists we were paying attention to were coming out of there, so that’s what kind of tipped the scale for us to go to Chicago next.”

ComplexCon kicked off early with Community Week, a new series of events, from park refurbishment to a sneaker drive, that benefitted the community and local organizations.

“We wanted to come in, make a difference and do so on a long-term basis for a lot of people,” Complex CEO and Founder Rich Antoniello said. “We get so much support from the community, we wanted to make sure it goes back.”

As part of the effort, Complex held a job preparation event at the Covenant House, which aids young adults who are experiencing homelessness. “At the end of the event the young adults were exchanging information with our staff and asking about job opportunities,” Complex Community Outreach Director Nicole Russell said. “We’ve all stayed in touch with them.” 

Complex also joined EA Sports, local artist Hebru Brantley and the NBA to give Chicago’s Metcalfe Park a makeover, with help from Houston Rockets star PJ Tucker.

“The families that live in that neighborhood and the kids who get to play on that court were so happy,” Russell said. “That was one of my favorite highlights from Community Week, just seeing other brands show up and do impactful work in the city.”

After the success of this year’s Community Week, which included donations totaling $65,000 to local charities, the team plans to bring the initiative to other ComplexCon events in the future.

“None of this happens without a team that not just believes in the power of this brand, but tirelessly works to constantly level it up,” Antoniello said. “Giving back to the community made it better than ever.”

ComplexCon Long Beach is November 2-3. To learn more about this year’s performances, panels and Community Week events, visit

ComplexCon Takes Chicago

By Allison White

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