• Satvik Ramakrishna

The Hype Behind Streetwear

Satvik Ramakrishna

Streetwear is a fashion movement that has taken the 21st century by storm. But what is streetwear, and why is it so popular among the youth these days? How have they managed to market basic comfortable fashion apparel with a drop culture that causes riots? What are the hottest brands in the game right now? These questions will soon be put to rest.

Streetwear is essentially lifestyle clothing rooted in urban subcultures which emerged from the streets with varying degrees. But that might be a little hard to comprehend. Streetwear is a style popularized by hip-hop, skateboarding, surfing, and social media and is very casual with bold graphics, baggy tees, hoodies, and even sneakers. They represent the streets, suburban culture, and most importantly, fun!

It is marketed so cleverly that even celebrities are irresistible to their charms. As comedian Trevor Noah once put it, "We live in an era where billionaires are sporting hoodies and Fortune 500 executives are dressed like rap stars."

So what is this scheme of marketing with such an appeal factor?

Well even though they may include smart choices in their colour palettes while designing the logos, have celebrities endorse them, and even have prime locations chosen for their outlet stores, their entire marketing plan can be summed up in one word- 'Hype'.

Hype is a form of advertisement with intensive publicity which can be resulted with or without promotion. The drop culture involves a limited stock online and in stores to ensure everything sells out immediately. This means they become even more expensive on resale, commonly known as 'supremium'. 'Conspicuous consumption' is just a fancy term to depict scarcity and that by keeping a steady rejection rate, people want things that others can't have and are therefore willing to pay more money to get them.

If you look at Kanye West's Yeezy sneakers, they were extremely popular when they had a limited drop but its resale tanked once he announced that a million pairs were going to be sold. In addition to this, the hype has a shelf life and can go out of style pretty quickly. So, by making their target audience the youth, they try to ensure the development of products that are in vogue. By collaborating with designer brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry as well as well-known brands like Levi's, Coca Cola and Champion, they make their products desirable

for both ends of society.

A 'hypebeast' is a term often used on the streets to depict an individual acquiring fashionable items, clothes, and shoes and was termed as an insult when it was first used (but gradually made its way to becoming a compliment).

Let us now take a closer look at few popular streetwear brands.

  • Off-White- Founded by Virgil Abloh, artistic director of Louis V menswear in Milan in 2012, Off-White was aimed at forming a zenith of comfy casual clothes. Off-White is known for its hoodies and sneakers. Its logo is an 'X' with arrowheads in all four directions but they also have another variation with a sinking person's hands below the words 'Off' and 'White'. From being Kanye's creative director to now running his own luxury brand, Virgil has come a long way, recently outranking Balenciaga and Gucci as the world's hottest brand with over 129 mentions in songs.

  • BAPE- Another commonly found name in the streetwear culture is A Bathing Ape, commonly referred to as BAPE. Founded by Hiroshi Fujiwara and Nigo, it aims to offer people a Japanese perspective on hip-hop. BAPE has collaborations with Adidas and has been frequently promoted by rapper Pharrel Williams and fellow Adidas rapper Kanye West.

  • Supreme- We cannot talk about streetwear without mentioning Supreme. Arguably the most well-known streetwear brand in the world, Supreme has only 11 stores worldwide. Started by James Jebbia in 1994, Supreme used to drop limited items at their one location outlet at Soho, New York which was originally a skate shop. It eventually grew into one of the biggest brands in the world. Its iconic box logo is slapped on all Supreme merchandise ranging from graphic tees and hoodies to even bricks, bolt cutters, and crowbars. It is a statement piece of Americana hip-hop, so popular that NBA star JR Smith even got the Supreme logo tattooed on his right leg!

  • Vlone- Extremely popular among artists, Vlone was founded by A$AP Bari, co-founder of New York hip-hop collective, the A$AP Mob. Vlone is sported by artists like A$AP Rocky, Pop Smoke, Playboi Carti, and many more. It has an unmistakable broken 'V' logo which cannot be missed, be it on the graffiti-covered walls of Brooklyn or the bold graphic t-shirts they're so well known for.

Just as rappers Travis Scott and Playboi Carti's fame in the music industry is derived from the hype surrounding them, streetwear brands follow almost identical principles for their drop culture in the fashion industry. As Slim Jxmmi from Rae Sremmurd once said, "Fashion and rap are intertwined at this point."

Indian culture also seems to be following in The US' footsteps with various Indian streetwear brands developing such as 'NoughtOne' and 'JAYWALKING'. They also hope to achieve similar levels of success in the fickle fashion industry.

Now that you are aware of what streetwear is and how it is marketed, will you be dashing to the stores in hopes of becoming a hypebeast or will you be launching your own line of streetwear products? Whatever you may decide, as Lynn Yaegar once said, "Always remember to be nice to everybody, because the richest person is probably the worst dressed on the streets."

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