It may have been Louis Vuitton who put the final nail in the coffin of traditional fashion when he hired designer Virgil Abloh as artistic director last year--a move that officially redefined luxury from the perspective of the street. But ultimately, the street itself revolutionized fashion--even if the original intention was to be anti-fashion, or at least, anti-establishment fashion.
And Abloh himself is the pop culture icon who has led this fashion revolution in many ways. After all, he started out screen-printing shirts on the south side of Chicago.
He wants clothes to actually speak, and Louis Vuitton men’s wear is his megaphone.
Streetwear isn’t only knocking at the door of traditional fashion, it’s disrupting it entirely. It knows how to tell a story and keep consumers on tenterhooks--and ready and willing to pay a high price for more.
The consumers are in charge now. They’re setting the trends rather than being led by the high-end fashion regime. In a way, it’s the democratization of fashion, even if the street has become wildly expensive.
It’s not a niche anymore--that’s for sure.
According to VogueBusiness, streetwear fashion is churning out billion-dollar brands, with much more to come.
The Business of the Street
Supreme is perhaps the … supreme example of what has happened to streetwear in recent years.
What started in 1994 as a skateboarding shop in SoHo, Manhattan, is now a billion-dollar brand. Related: Can Meditation Make A Business More Profitable?
They keep their buyers on edge by having a lot product but making it difficult to come by. The tease consumers by only “dropping” a certain volume of product on the market for high prices. And they drive up the anxiety of being able to get it, essentially creating demand that knows no bounds, and no limit to what people will pay.
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Thanks to fashion influencers and designers such as Alize Demange, Kanye West and Virgil Abloh, streetwear has not only become a global trend--it’s has become a luxury itself, with sweatshirts going for hundreds and even thousands of dollars and containing nothing but a simple logo.
Abloh himself is behind one of the biggest high-end streetwear brands on the market: Off-White, which has 5.4 million followers on instagrams and a net worth of $3 million dollars. It’s a simple logo, a simple design, and a hefty price tag.
Last November, Kanye collaborated with Adidas to create the Yeezy Boost 350 V2 sneaker, which sold out in less than a minute.
And the “Drop” is the key to the marketing scheme. Adidas and Nike are credited with coming up with the idea in the 1980s when they started ‘dropping’ limited-edition sneakers in brick-and-mortar stores to create hype around the release.
For streetwear shoppers, the drop is a thrill, and the thrill promises soaring demand. The high-fashionistas of streetwear don’t go “shopping”, they wait for drops.
Not A Passing Fad
Perhaps more than anything, the rise of streetwear and its ability to transform the fashion industry and create billion-dollar brands is an expression of the ‘American Dream’ that has faded over the decades. But at the same time, it seems confused philosophically: by design it is for the proletariat; by price, it’s for the bourgeoisie.
But that doesn’t seem to matter. It’s a voice that’s made its way into high fashion, and it’s not going anywhere.
As VogueBusiness notes, “Investors are circling brands poised to match Supreme’s billion-dollar valuation. Possible targets include Noah and Palace, which offer their own takes on the aesthetic made popular by Supreme”.
By Istria Alic for conil.me