What is it that drives people to spend $1,500 on secondhand sneakers? Why does a culture root from the underground scene for skaters turn into a lavish playground fill with millennial with huge amounts of cash? What does Stussy, A Bathing Ape, Huff and other streetwear brand have that other brands don’t?Streetwear’s heritage is a modern one. Its root came from the skate, surf, and hip-hop scenes of America’s East and West coasts in the 80s and 90s. Every time there is a new release of a brand new stuff across social media platform, thousands of people are waiting to spend a lot of money in order to follow the buzz.
In recent years, streetwear fans were divided by two: extravagant and street savvy. Where schoolboys who once spent their parents allowance on PlayStation games now turning their noses up at fashion, they’re now paying to line up to get into the auction for a pair of Yeezy, and in a sense, Supreme is the brand most responsible for all of this.Founded by James Jebia in 1994 as a skateboard-centric clothing line, there is no other clothing brand shows so much devotion such as Supreme.
Their followers, the Supreme’s ultras: the kids who wait in line for hours, the adult men who pay a crazy amount of money to buy the various color of the same cap.Supreme evolved from an underground hangout for downtown skate kids to a cult global brand whose output rivals the most established fashion house. Ever since then, Supreme has continued to grow globally while extremely limiting the number of items they release, ensuring that fans of the brand compete with each other to get their hands on everything. It’s because they don’t want to stick producing the same stuff and another reason in keeping supply low is an effective way to create demand considering online shop sells out minutes after anything new is added, being burden with a warehouse full of dead stock doesn’t seem too much of a worry.The die-hard fans are essentially a subculture in itself. Europe’s largest community of Supreme is SupTalk, with nearly 60,000 members, surely outnumbers any streetwear community. Inside this group, you’ll witness the huge devotion of Supreme ultras, from aging jacket to skateboards.
On Grailed.com, a high-end clothing resale site you’ll often find an old Supreme item price as much as a plane ticket from Indonesia to London. This is especially true for a couple of years since the demand for streetwear around the globe increased exponentially.So what is it about all this hysteria? Why do people go crazy about this culture until it reaches the point they build a safe house in their bedrooms and not get embarrassed about it? Why are there teenagers willing to buy a plane ticket just for the sake of getting a set of boxer? What kind of dopamine reactions drives people enough to buy eight different colors of one specific version of a very expensive T-shirt? Why do so many people become so obsessed with it?Hype is the most logical answer: The buzz around the culture create by media—That a sight of Drake or Kanye West in Supreme or Yeezy drives many people into bankruptcy. But there has to be some sort of a reason behind all of this. Surely human as the most evolved species on the planet wouldn’t be so easy to sway?If you’re the kind of person who actively worries about being cool, you could argue that certain brand just produces really nice item—and, for some people, that’s undoubtedly why they’ll dip in and out. But for others, the levels of devotion is more than just cotton and thread.But why? Why do we place so much value on this stuff? Who is actually going to be impressed that the handbag you always carry is one of a kind? Nobody.
No one really gives any attention to it, to be honest. But then, really, it’s not about other people; it’s about you.”In evolutionary terms, we all collect the things we see beautiful and value.
” according to Dr. Dimitrios Tsivrikos, a consumer psychologist at University College London. “We collect resources to survive, but survival doesn’t only rest upon what we need physically. We need, psychologically to, to distinguish ourselves. Throughout history, tribes would decorate themselves with feathers or precious stones to set them apart from other tribe members and attract potential mates.
In the same way, collecting Supreme really allows people to build their identities with rare objects.The thing is, for the majority of people aren’t going to realize your ultra rare T-shirt that you get for thousands of money. To them, it’s just a T-shirt, like the ones you get in Uniqlo. However, in psychological terms, that’s of little importance. Millennials, in particular, are very aware of different brands; they look to inspire or impress peers who share the same kind of interests as them, who will recognize that particular T-shirt. So, really, we do it from the perspective that people see us as an individual.
The appeal is all in the exclusivity. People want to be seen differently from others. Those people are willing to let everyone know they’re wearing the brand they adore represents another important characteristic of themselves.
That makes them authentic or seen to be authentic so to speak.Over the past few years, a huge chunk of attention has been put on “authenticity,” both by brands and individuals. We’re terrified of being called an imposter.
A brand is an extension of one’s self—psychologically, in terms of how you want the world to see the image you put outside but deeper than that: what you value the most, reflected through the brand you choose.”Lots of people buy a certain brand because it helps them add a layer of persona they want the world to see. Perhaps the persona for some starts when this projection has to be maintained in order to be seen differently.This may sound absurd to some people—spending tons of money tracking something down or waiting in line for hours even days just to see it hanging in the wardrobe. But view this as a collector hunting for the finest painting or rare coins, and it all makes sense. You’re not going to drink Coca-Cola made in 18th-century, but that doesn’t stop some diehard Coke fans from collecting them.
There are tons of people out there has a special place for their collections, and they treat it like it is their second bank account. They rely on all this cotton that age, essentially, like a fine wine to eventually sell it to someone who shares the same passion as them, which for collector can be an endless journey even though the physical store growth for all this streetwear brand is intentionally slow. But if all this brand reaches more people the way it reaches to them, It’ll be harder for them to maintain the exclusivity and authenticity they successfully manage all this time and it seems that’s already deteriorating since the opening of the physical store across the globe.In the end it’s all about the mindset of the people. If a certain brand represents a certain value to certain fans, even subconsciously, the obsession likely comes down to a conclusion: It’s as much about what the brands represent as the quality and the design of the item.
Wear those shiny Gucci trainers, and it implies you like blowing money on a nightclub. Wear A Bathing Ape to tell the world you are fine to spend $250 for a hoodie. Wear Supreme, and you’re part of its community, and everything that it values and the persona that you project to your surrounding end up telling you that you’re as authentic as the brand itself (even if you’re not).