Streetwear: hype and big money

by Salvador Nito Wong

 

Limited collections, strong marketing and inflated prices: creating hypes – for making more profit – has become rampant among fashion brands.

Brands can go a long way, taking the price of a single construction brick from $30 to a $500. ‘I love hype, it’s a feeling about a product. You know what is going to rise and what’s not. It’s intuition’ says Quintius Visser, a hypebeast reseller from Rotterdam.

 ‘I love hype, it’s a feeling about a product. You know what is going to rise and what’s not. It’s intuition’

Hypebeast is the term used by streetwear followers to describe someone who enjoys buying the most demanded products. Brands like Nike and Supreme influence hype by employing different methods. In recent years, exclusive sales have become the new norm in streetwear. A brand will announce the release of a limited amount of products in selected stores, this artificial scarcity increases the demand. People line up and even camp outside stores to be the first ones to buy. In the hypebeast world, this is known as ‘Drops’.

High demand and limited offer come with another phenomenon: resale. ‘I started reselling when I realised that buying Supreme and brands like that was very expensive. Reselling offered me a chance to earn money and buy things I liked’ says Quintius Visser. He runs an Instagram account called Hypegoodzz. In his posts, he offers items like sneakers, T-shirts and even a Supreme-branded inflatable blimp.

The streetwear and hypebeast scene in the Netherlands is small compared to the ones in America or London. However, there are brands that attract customers. On Zeedijk Street in Amsterdam, people can find retail stores for brands like Patta and Stussy. Such places make it easy to find streetwear fans like Jack Elliott, from London. He is wearing a Supreme logo box t-shirt and a Supreme tagged bag. ‘The streetwear market is good in Amsterdam. You can find good brands, but it is not as big as in London. There is room for more’ he says.

Just like Quintius, Jack has also resold hyped items. ‘I wanted to spend more money on clothes. I started to buy better ones, and I ended up being able to sell them for more money than what I’ve gotten them for. This helped me buy more things after that’ he says.

The resale market is big and is worth 1 billion dollars worldwide just from sneaker resales alone. With such a rapid growth, its effects can sometimes be controversial. Supreme has gained a lot of popularity by selling relatively ordinary objects at high prices simply because it contains their branding. One of their most controversial items was a construction brick with their logo stamped on it. Its original retail price was $30, but on Ebay resales it can cost as much as $500. ‘It’s a great way for them to earn money. I mean, it’s a good example of what branding does, if it were a normal brick, no one would think about buying it’ says Quintius, ‘I personally wouldn’t pay $200 for something like that’ he adds. It all depends on what people are willing to pay, ‘I’ve sold some box logos for $1000 and $1500’ he explains.

The negative side of resale is the difficulty for fans to buy the products. ‘The resale makes it harder for people to get what they want. It makes things more expensive. That’s a little bit sad for people who just want to buy stuff because they like them’ says Elvis Osawe, a worker from one of the most important streetwear brands in the Netherlands: Daily Paper. ‘Some people make a living out of resale, they create networks and get other benefits from doing it. Everybody has their own profits and losses’ he adds.

Like any other market, the streetwear and hypebeast scene is ruled by the laws of supply and demand. If the supply is too high, the demand will go down. This poses a problem for resellers and brands that want to maintain their hype. ‘I stopped doing resale now because the market is flooded.’ says Jack Elliott, ‘People who just buy items to resell them immediately are making the market crash. There are too many people selling, which makes prices go down’ he says.

Whether this is positive or negative depends on where you are standing, as an entrepreneur or a streetwear enthusiast. It is up to the consumers to decide if the market has gone too far. If people want to spend their month’s rent on a brick, the hype machine will continue to turn.