More Vendors, More People, More Hype: Long’s Art Market Goes Back To School With LÔCÔ LÊN LỚP

Since the first LÔCÔ Art Market in 2017, each edition, which its founder, Long, and his team now hold three times a year, has welcomed more vendors, more people, and more hype. That’s because Long casts a curatorial eye over the proceedings. And of course, the upcoming fair is no exception. So we caught up with Long as he prepares the August edition, LÔCÔ LÊN LỚP, to be held at Thao Dien Pearl, from 11th to 13th August.

Đọc bài viết bằng Tiếng Việt

More and more local brands are being born, exploring cultural references and materials that reflect dynamic and vibrant Saigon. 

There’s Soulvenir, a clothing brand embracing Vietnamese history and culture in its wearable art. Or Bằng, a brand specializing in designed lamps which will make your treasured corners feel warm and cozy. And have been tons of unique concept stores springing up over the past few years across the country. 

Having worked in different fields, from designer to event manager, Long (@heyheylonglong) decided to pursue the mission of creating an art playground for local artists to unleash their creativity and bring artistic products closer to the community.

The latest installment of the LÔCÔ Art Market coincides with the start of the school year. So, they called it ‘LÔCÔ LÊN LỚP’ meaning ‘LÔCÔ goes back to school.’

A Gathering Of Local Artists

Everything started in the summer of 2017 with the birth of Art Market by inpages, Long’s start-up bookstore attached to an art gallery in Thao Dien. Three years on, Long renamed the event: LÔCÔ Art Market. And with that he updated the branding too, to its distinctive white and blue logo. 

“Roughly speaking, LÔCÔ is a gathering of local people who make genuine, quality, indigenous goods. It’s a chance to explore some incredibly well-designed items, and meet up with cool people,” Long smiles.

Long - LÔCÔ's founder
Long celebrating another of his LÔCÔ Art Markets that started back in the summer of 2017.

“I feel so lucky I’ve met decent people.”

Now, annually, LÔCÔ Art Market takes place in April, August and December. 

So far, according to Long, the most successful fair happened to be the one where they started selling entrance tickets, held last August. The number of visitors over the three days of the fair reached a record high with more than 9,000 people and more than 100 local brands were at the event they called: LÔCÔ LÔCÁ Market.

You’d guess organizing events on such a large scale means lots of planning and ideating, and immense pressure too. But that doesn’t seem to be the case with Long and his LÔCÔ team. “I feel so lucky I’ve met decent people”, he explains. 

“My team, needless to say, is dynamic, open-minded and youthful so everyone works well together. And even the vendors are also wild and cute.” It is, overall, he says, more fun than pressure. 

With such rapid growth for the event and moving to entrance fees, Long’s clearly always mindful of the next step. “In the future, I intend to find a fixed location so that LÔCÔ could happen more frequently, then it will be even more crazy!” Long laughs.

Long and his team
“My team, needless to say, is dynamic, open-minded and youthful,”  Long proudly tells us.

Not Everyone Can Become A Vendor at LÔCÔ

Although there are many different art markets in Vietnam, the challenge is how to be different and stand out among the other creative playgrounds. Besides the curated shopping experience, at LÔCÔ, they offer various recreational activities such as live music, workshops and art exhibitions.

And at LÔCÔ Art Market, “the process of selecting vendors is much stricter than others,” says the founder of LÔCÔ. 

“Only brands that have been copyrighted and have unique identities are eligible to participate in LÔCÔ. By doing so, our guests don’t have to worry about the artistry of the booths, vendors always know how to make it slay.”

The artistically beautiful booths at LÔCÔ LÔCÁ, the most successful market so far.

How much of that, we wondered, is Long seeking out vendors, or vendors seeking out Long? “At the first market at Meander Saigon in 2022, I had to contact more than 50% of the vendors myself and even ask them to introduce other brands for me,” Long recalls. “But it was a huge success! There were so many awesome photos and videos. And it really resonated with the community. After that, vendors started to come to us,” Long recalls excitedly. 

But additionally, LÔCÔ’s founder admits, he always keeps an eye on what’s happening in the creative scene, so he will know which brands are new-born and cool, so he can invite them to his next art fair.

T-shirt printing at LÔCÔ
A T-shirt printing workshop is one of the additional activities at LÔCÔ Art Market

After The Most Unexpectedly Successful LÔCÔ Art Market Event

“I got home at around 11pm. And I laid on the floor! I felt like my body was energy-drained – I was just shagged out!” Long remembers about their busiest LÔCÔ Art Market last April. 

Then, the notifications began popping up on his phone, “tons of thanks and positive messages from both vendors and participants.”

“OMG! I was like a low-battery phone being fast-charged! I was so over the moon when I knew that the event could help them that much,” Long says wide-eyed.

Since then, to celebrate, after each LÔCÔ, Long gives himself a little trip abroad as a reward for the hard work, but also to broaden his horizons and think of some new ideas for the next fair. 

Vendors at LÔCÔ
“OMG! I was like a low-battery phone being fast-charged!”  Long says.

Long’s Top 5 Favorite Local Brands

In the midst of a vast ocean of quality local brands, like Soulvenir and BANG, we wanted to know 5 brands that Long likes the most. “First off, they’re two of my favorites!” he tells us. 

“Then, there’s Ruglà, a handmade floral wool carpet studio with the best artwork in Saigon. It’s a brand that’s been at LÔCÔ Art Market at many different editions. After that, there’s ugly born, a shop full of lovely tops and pants, with fancy, unmistakable designs. Then there’s the concept store OHQUAO, which gathers together quality local brands, a must-see if you want to buy special items that are not available anywhere else in the world. And last, he decides, there’s Bằng’s lighting and other products designed and manufactured by Elek Design.”

Long's 5 favorite brands
Long’s 5 favorite local brands.

What Should Guests Expect At The Upcoming LÔCÔ Art Market, LÔCÔ LÊN LỚP, This August?

“It will be lots of fun!”, Long says with all the excitement of a schoolkid at the bookstore buying stationery for the new school year. And that’s fitting, for this edition of the back-to-school themed art market. 

Following that theme, each brand will be grouped into different honors classes, and the market layout created around that. 

“For example, if you sell soaps, you’ll be in the chemistry honors class; if you sell trees and plants, you’ll be in the biology honors class. There will be supervisors wandering around and also a canteen for when you’re hungry. Basically, it’s like a school, an extraordinary school.”, Long laughs, happy with his new concept.

LÔCÔ LÊN LỚP this August.

‘Students’ please quickly note down the address and opening hours of LOCO ‘school’ with the information below!

✨ Friday: August 11th (15:00 – 21:00)

✨ Saturday: August 12th ( 10:00 – 21:00 )

✨ Sunday: August 13th ( 10:00 – 21:00 )

📍 Thao Dien Pearl, 12 Quoc Huong, Thao Dien Ward, Thu Duc City 

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