Urban youth subcultures and the culture of streetwear are progressive movements in contemporary society, becoming a mainstream phenomenon intensified by the internet.
Streetwear brands and fashion labels followed religiously by urban subcultures and disciples of streetwear culture have flocked online and created a shared environment and open atmosphere converging onto the internet space. Traditional high-street retailers are struggling to compete against the internet and are living in the shadow of their online counterparts, and 2018 is probably marking the death of the online vs offline retail war.
The Digital Migration of Streetwear Brands.
The most hyped streetwear brands like Palace, Stussy and most noticeably Supreme, offer both the conventional and physical experience of purchasing in-store and also providing the opportunity to cop online. You are still able to queue and pick up the latest collections (only if you camp outside the store overnight), but unlike the 80s and 90s, you are able to sit back, relax and buy online. Well… yeah… I’m not kidding anyone. Try copping the SS18 Palace x Ralph Lauren collaboration online. It was impossible. And unless you won a raffle spot in the queue and camped out for a week, you had even smaller prospects of buying.
The internet makes everything easier and more accessible.
So you missed the big release. You woke up late for the 9:00am drop, and invariably, you weren’t selected by raffle to be in the queue. What a normal person might do is hold their hands up and say “oh well, maybe next time.” But there is no next time for us. We are imprisoned with the sneakerhead curse, so are physically unable to think that way unless we were to be rewired. So in spite of this, colonies of people head to resale sites like Depop, StockX and eBay to buy products they missed out on.
Gone are the days of the 80s and 90s where you had to pitch a tent a couple of nights before a major launch to cop something. Kids nowadays won’t ever know the pain and mind numbing exhaustion just to be able to purchase a tee with a logo on. Everything now is done with ease and simplicity, but there are still classic drops and traditional stances taken by brands.
The internet will always reign supreme (branded pun very much intended) by resales are becoming problematic.
Traditional retailers are dying out because of this post-purchase freedom and opportunity to still get your favorite items. Although the internet offers this new opportunity to buy, the movement online has caused resale prices to skyrocket out the stratosphere, and this is a huge problem for fans who can’t afford to buy the pieces they love. The sub-market of streetwear resellers is at an all time high, with apparel taking 49% of the entire resale market at a size of $20 billion. Post-purchase dissonance is also a very real problem through online buying, as you don’t get the chance to feel and try the items first hand.
So there’s platforms for us to buy even after drops, surely the internet is the perfect hunting ground?
To simply put it: no. You would think that the transition online provided tremendous opportunities to purchase, but it only makes it more competitive as the market grows. Buying from streetwear brands is a huge commitment; financially it will stretch most people’s pockets but it’s also hellishly time consuming. Proxies and bots govern the internet and are the most effective method to beat the queues and purchase in seconds (to understand more about proxies click here), giving us little chance to cop the most hyped items. Most of the items bought by bots are put immediately onto the resale market.
Robots are cool, but these aren’t R2D2s…
The market of reselling heightens prices so much you need a bank loan. Products like these Off White x Nike Jordan 1s had a retail price of £149.99 (which is an investment for a pair of shoes to begin with) are reselling on popular resale site StockX for a highest bid of over £2,200, giving a price increase of over 2,000%. Yeah, I don’t believe it either. Most people who use proxies to purchase items have no intention of wearing or using them. This is incredibly frustrating for people like us as it means we have to invest in a small mortgage to get the clothes and shoes we love from brands that treat their customers like sh*t.
The internet has made it easier to get your hands on irresistible grails.
There are items that are considered grails in the sneaker street culture: something so rare and so special that you would do anything to capture. The internet has allowed for the opportunity of accessibility, but at huge financial despair to those who want to buy them. Perhaps the definition of a holy grail, something you would have to sell your house, your car and quite possibly all of your organs to get, is the insanely coveted, most illustrious, most distinguished and prominent collaborations of fashion and street culture between Louis Vuitton x Supreme and their signature Malle Courrier Trunk Monogram 90 red trunk. The lowest resale asking price is over £100,000…
So why the f*ck are people still buying and interacting with streetwear brands? Have we all lost our minds..?
Despite all the negativity of the streetwear market, we still show interest in every drop, still comment on every post, and still are addicted to jawns. It’s a lifestyle but most importantly, it’s a culture. We’ve made friends and contacts through buying and selling online and sharing the same interests. These brands are creating families who are creating their own subcultures. The digital impact on fashion and streetwear culture is making it more accessible and means so much more than just buying clothes you love.
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