The decade when streetwear reigned Supreme
As 2019 draws to a close, looking back over the last decade it is clear that streetwear culture has had a profoundly disruptive impact on… Read more
As 2019 draws to a close, looking back over the last decade it is clear that streetwear culture has had a profoundly disruptive impact on the fashion industry.
The Streetwear Impact Report, co-written by PWC and HypeBeast, defines streetwear as fashionable, casual clothes which subvert a key component of the fashion industry: exclusivity.
Where traditional fashion brands create exclusivity through high retail prices, streetwear brands do so via scarcity.
Limited edition product releases or “drops” leverage this scarcity to create huge amounts of hype around products, many of which sell out instantly. Few consumers know how or where to buy these products before they sell out, creating a close-knit community of those who are “in the know” and leading to the birth of a burgeoning secondary market.
This resale market, argues the Streetwear Impact Report, is integral to the streetwear model and functions as a metric of the brand’s success – the more desirable a product is, the higher its resale price will be.
Streetwear-inspired trends have dominated the fashion industry over the last decade. Collaborations between brands, another key component of the streetwear model, are more popular than ever.
Kanye West’s “Yeezy Boost 350 V2” sneakers, a collaboration with Adidas which first released in 2015, are considered one of the items which defined fashion in the 2010s and the Yeezy brand is worth an estimated $1.5 billion in 2019. Yeezy sneakers remain a perennial favourite, causing fans to queue for hours in the hope of getting hold of pairs.
Virgil Abloh, founder of streetwear label Off-White, shot to fame in 2017 with the release of “The Ten” – his collaboration with Nike to create ten reconstructed versions of classic Nike sneakers, which are considered some of the most iconic sneakers of the decade. Farfetch recently acquired New Guards Group, Off-White’s parent company, for $675 million, as part of its “strategy to be the global technology platform for the luxury fashion industry”.
Despite having no formal education in fashion design, Abloh was named Artistic Director of Menswear at Louis Vuitton in March 2018, the first person of colour to hold such a high profile position, and has since injected a distinctly streetwear-inspired spirit into the fashion house’s pre-spring 2020 and “2054” menswear collections.
It is hard to argue that any streetwear brand has had a more successful decade than Supreme. Supreme started the 2010s as a popular, but still relatively niche brand and ended 2019 as one of the biggest names in fashion.
Supreme releases a new set of products every Thursday at 11am, often including collaborations with other brands and even bizarre accessories, and once they’ve sold out, they’ve sold out forever. Items emblazoned with Supreme’s coveted box logo, or “bogo”, often sell out in seconds, and are subsequently resold on the secondary market for many times their retail price.
Supreme is recognised as helping bring the streetwear model to the mainstream and continues to blur the lines between streetwear and high fashion, as demonstrated by its collaboration with Louis Vuitton in 2017, and its position as a brand favoured by many high-profile celebrities.
Supreme’s meteoric rise does not seem to have been held back by the spread of “legal fake” copycat stores, which has resulted in Supreme taking serious action to protect its rights.
The streetwear model has also proven popular across a wide variety of retail sectors.
Luggage brand Rimowa has released limited-edition suitcases co-designed by Dior and Supreme, and Ikea’s recent collaboration with Virgil Abloh lead to fans queuing overnight outside Wembley Ikea to buy items from the collection.
Kylie Jenner, whose make-up brand Kylie Cosmetics leverages limited edition drops to create hype in an otherwise saturated cosmetics market, recently sold a 51% stake in her brand to beauty conglomerate Coty Inc., valuing it at $1.2 billion and making her the youngest “self-made” billionaire.
But will streetwear’s influence over the fashion industry continue?
Yes – says the Streetwear Impact Report – in a global survey of fashion and retail industry executives, 76% of respondents said they believed streetwear would continue to grow significantly over the next five years.
With the announcement of Dior’s collaboration with Nike to release the Air Jordan 1 High OG Dior in April 2020, with a rumoured retail price of $2,000 and a resale price of many times that, the desirability of streetwear is stronger than ever.
If your brand is considering a move into the streetwear/luxury market:
- Register your trade marks as soon as possible.
- Register your designs (it’s quick and easy to do so in Europe).
- Think about your manufacture and supply agreements, particularly in relation to sustainability and recycled materials (which, according to McKinsey, are some of the most important challenges currently facing the fashion industry).
- If you collect personal data about your customers, make sure you comply with data protection laws.
- Ensure your contracts with influencers protect your brand and content.
- If your website incorporates adtech, be prepared to implement changes to remedy data protection non-compliance
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