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Streetwear supremacy: The business of hype

By Reagan Liu and Matt Wang Dec. 9, 2020

Quincy Han Art

Streetwear, a fashion style rooted in skater, surf and hip hop culture, has become widely popular among youth. Since its rise in demand during the 80s and 90s, a multitude of streetwear companies have gained massive followings, from American clothing brand Stüssy to Japan’s Comme des Garçons.

The concept of streetwear does not lie in its history but in its prices. A Supreme hoodie that retails for $168 could sell for $650 or more on resale websites like Grailed. The value of a simple, gray sweatshirt printed with a red logo is more than a product of supply and demand; rather, streetwear labels themselves are largely responsible for the “hype” around their clothing.

Quincy Han Art

Well-established brands like Supreme and Comme des Garçons are acutely aware of the skyrocketing popularity for streetwear; in fact, they encourage it. Unlike other clothing companies who consistently restock their digital shelves, many streetwear brands use the “drop” tactic: only releasing a limited amount of clothing at a prescribed time and restocking only for the next release. They notify their fans of the date and time the drop will take place and let social media do the rest.

Quincy Han Art

The internet gives brands like Supreme and Stüssy an easy and extremely fast way to reach their customers and perpetuate the cycle of exclusivity that keeps people buying. Sites like Instagram fuel a never-ending loop of “hypebeasts”—slang for streetwear zealots—trying to one-up each other by getting the next hot item. Hype around labels allow items like Kanye West’s Adidas Yeezy sneakers to sell out in mere minutes.

However, the streetwear sensation is still a somewhat recent one. Especially in celebrity fashion, jeans and t-shirts were seen as loungewear, not something for the red carpet. As hip hop rose to popularity alongside streetwear in the 90s, young artists embraced a more relaxed approach to fashion. Now, street fashion and casualwear is the standard outside of celebrity galas and award ceremonies. Modern trends like basketball sneakers and slim denim have been Quincy Han Art staples for celebrities like actor

Michael B. Jordan and rapper Brian “Rich Brian” Imanuel Soewarno. The prevalence of streetwear in celebrity fashion feeds into the cycle of exclusivity when social media influencers show off their newest outfits—practically providing clothing labels with free advertising. For example, the Anti Social Social Club brand can attribute its rise to rapper Travis Scott and K-Pop group BTS: when the artists were seen wearing Anti Social apparel, the brand’s value skyrocketed.

The astronomical prices that streetwear demands makes it seem insurmountable for nearly anyone but celebrities to enjoy. However, hype clothing in today’s youth culture is on the rise, with many working hours at a minimum wage job to afford a single t-shirt. According to many teens, the high price is worth it; following streetwear trends and brands that attract compliments boosts their self-esteem. However, others like Junior Julia Choi explain that her streetwear fashion choices are not all about attracting attention.

Quincy Han Art

“I enjoy dressing deliberately. My personal style might be similar to hypebeasts’, but that is because I find my inspiration from celebrities and social media influencers; however, I do not consider myself a hypebeast,” Choi said.


About the Contributors

Reagan Liu

Staff Writer

Reagan Liu is a sophomore at Leland High school and a staff writer at the Leland Charger Account. He loves music and listens to many different genres of music in his free time. He never skips a meal and consumes all the nutrients needed to stay healthy.

Matt Wang

Sports Editor

Matt Wang a senior at Leland High School and the Sports Editor for the Charger Account. He enjoys photography, listening to music and playing League of Legends.

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