Streetwear culture has become big business in the last 5 years thanks to the rise of social media and exclusive drops.
Streetwear culture has been growing exponentially for the past few years and with the recent boom of the world wide web and social media. We have seen the birth of many new brands that no longer develop locally and then globally, instead, they are capable of reaching a global audience in a matter of minutes. The social media platform Instagram has served to help in a variety of different aspects especially when it comes to consumers, since there is no need to travel places to purchase items that are ‘rare’ or ‘exclusive’, one is able to see updates about upcoming releases and then purchase them online and maybe sometimes at a local boutique. The issue here is demand and supply and hence the resale marketplace. In general, the brands that have withheld and even so prolonged their usual life cycle have mostly managed to bridge a gap between limited supply and high demand. But sometimes we still ask ourselves, where did this ‘hype’ begin and when if ever will it stop?
Many brands like Supreme, Bape, Patta and Stone Island have been on the rise – some more so than others – but in general, these past few years have been very good for ‘streetwear’. In my opinion, previous to this was a world where brands were over saturating the market; we saw them everywhere, on everyone and this really left fashion and style to those who dedicated their lifetime pursuing such fields. Nowadays, brands like Supreme and those mentioned earlier have grasped an initial niche audience that wants to be different. The difference factor is what has caught the eye of so many. At the very beginning, Supreme was solely focused on producing clothing catered to skateboarders. In 1994 no one would have thought it would be a brand having any type of connection with high fashion. It’s 2017, and Supreme has already released a Louis Vuitton collaboration that included pieces from basic accessories all the way to outerwear.
This difference factor I have talked about has given brands the capability to produce in their consumers – frenzy. This frenzy has been transformed into a living for some people and has also created a desperate want in others. With the example of Supreme, each Thursday during trading season they have a drop in store and online and products all the way from outwear to underwear sell out in a matter of minutes. To bring in another example – Stone Island – have had a cult type following in Europe from the very start and it began through Football. Many Europeans in Italy had access to Stone Island from the very start and many people from the UK where influenced by these Europeans. Rather than wearing a teams colours like previous generations of hooligans, casuals transformed their interest towards more ostentatious brands and Stone Island happened to be one of them.
Similarly, the rise in the popularity of the world wide web and social media propelled Stone Island into where it is today. Carlo Rivetti, Stone Island’s CEO explained in an interview that he uses Instagram to display the process many of their pieces go through as in what textiles are used in production and also how they are incorporated to make the final product. Such small abilities as being able to interact with consumers through a platform like Instagram has ideally pushed brands like Stone Island and Supreme onto greater levels.
With Instagram, not only are the consumers interacting through an interface but so are celebrities, influencer’s and bloggers – which have a severe impact on brands, their success and their future. Turning back to Supreme, in 2005 they decided to start a new t-shirt series where they would take a picture of a celebrity, rapper, rocker, boxer, skater or puppet and have each of them wear a box-logo tee and then have this picture placed on a t-shirt. It began with Raekwon and most recently they have had Sade. But with the introduction of the Raekwon tee is were Supreme began gaining more demand from other places rather than just skateboarders. This slowly had the effect of increasing the demand for Supreme clothing and where we started seeing more people in the music industry like rappers wearing the brand.
Right now I would say streetwear is in a great place and at least for a decade we will keep seeing this ‘hype’. It may however transform as trend’s change but as we have seen this subculture has a lot of potential. However, there is definitely space for growth since there is always someone or something new and this is very interesting and probably results since both the consumer(s) and producer(s) are in constant competition. Here is were subsequently the term ‘hype’ is born in streetwear culture. Consumers compete with other consumers when it comes to getting the latest sneakers, clothing or accessories and producers compete with other producers to see which had the best outcome in consumers i.e. who created the most frenzy. On a final note – hopefully this intense and interesting culture still lives on for our children because from a personal perspective ‘streetwear’ has influenced me in many ways I have never seen any other type of culture do – and I have also learnt a lot. I think it suddenly gives you an ability to be critical of fashion living somewhere were the majority and minority embrace a similar vision.
In similar type features you can also check out article exploring the rise of the streetwear resale market.