Mar 11, 2015

Notes on the Democratization of Streetwear

Streetwear brands are masters of supply and demand. The trick...

Streetwear brands are masters of supply and demand. The trick of any successful launch of a popular sneaker or collection has always been to keep the supply low and drum up the buzz with social media and the internet. With the democratization of fashion and the increasing accessibility of brands, designs and silhouettes that are now readily available, streetwear's traditional model of seeding limited products to the select few is a direct conflict to the direction in which fashion is currently heading. We're beginning to see a new way of thinking with many streetwear staples. The democratization of fashion has finally made its way to streetwear—and instead of running away, many of the most sought after brands are realizing this is the golden opportunity to reach a broader, more mainstream audience.

Supreme

The Democratization of Streetwear # 1

Supreme is synonymous with streetwear, it’s the most relevant streetwear brand to ever exist and it is the golden standard for for many streetwear brands when it comes to longevity and relevance. Supreme has always been known for their instant sell outs and line ups at their store fronts. Supreme has been notorious for keeping their supply low, which in turns skyrockets demand. However, over the years of business, even the brand who often plays by it’s own rules, have quietly made supreme more accessible. You no longer have to visit an actual Supreme location to purchase their highly sought after apparel and accessories. Supreme now has 3 web stores in North America, Europe, and Japan and have expanded to nine locations worldwide with an increasingly larger collections for Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter.

Nike X Pigalle

The Democratization of Streetwear # 2

One of last years most sought after collaborations was the Nike X Pigalle basketball collection. Pigalle, the French based brand, which is co founded by Stepháne Ashpool teamed up with the swoosh to create a limited run of athletic apparel and sneakers. The collaboration was an overwhelming success with quick sell outs and high reller prices on eBay. The partnership between the two parties continued this year with a slight modification – accessibility. Ashpool was quoted saying that this year’s collaboration “won’t be too limited like last time”, and affordable “enough so that the kids can have it”.

Adidas X Kanye West

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Kanye West’s & Hip Hop’s ascension into menswear is the perfect example of the increasing democracy in the world of fashion. It’s now possible for a rapper from the world of fashion to have the most talked about show during last week’s New York Fashion Week. West’s highly anticipated debut collection without a doubt made multiple headlines, but unlike his previous collections with Nike and Louis Vuitton, his partnership with Adidas is centered around the idea of accessibility. With Adidas, West now has been given free reign on the size and quantity of his collection. In a recent interview, West goes off on his dislike of separatism, elitism and classicism, and sought to change this with his new collection by aiming for equality. When asked about the price point for his new collection, West candidly admitted the prices are not where he wants them to be (price leaks suggest that the first Kanye X Adidas collection feature high end luxury price points), but is “working on the prices now” and “we’ll eventually get them super-inexpensive. And it will be all about everyone having them”.

KITH NYC

KITH NYC

Ronnie Fieg is the people’s champ in streetwear. The brands core philosophies revolve around aiding the consumer in feeling better about themselves through their apparel. While Fieg’s online and physical store are known to carry some of the most sought after sneakers in the market, It’s his own in house line KITH that needs to get more recognition as a brand that straddles the line perfectly between affordability and exclusivity. Prices for Fieg’s KITH line have always leaned towards being more affordable while maintaining superior quality. Streetwear staples such as hoodies,joggers,hats,and t-shirts are more or less the same price you would find at mid tier menswear brands and shops. While many of KITH’s apparel does get sold out within minutes online, Fieg makes sure there are always opportunities to purchase KITH by constantly re-stocking the brand with new collaborations and collections.

If you scroll through the forums , and comments of popular streetwear websites, there are always comments made by streetwear fanboys who reminisce about the glory days when their favourite streetwear brands kept it real and kept their collection in limited quantities. What many fans often fail to recognize is that their favorite brands are no longer mom and pop operations. Streetwear is being pushed to the forefront of fashion and with that push comes the necessary growth a brand needs in order to maintain relevancy,and ultimately a healthy growing business.

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