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Why do people spend thousands of dollars on a piece of clothing that doesn't seem to look special at all? It's for one reason, status.
Companies such as Supreme have overtaken the clothing industry with their amazing success. Supreme has established its place with some of the most expensive clothing brands. Their clothing resells in underground markets for $500 or more extra than the original retail price of the product. For example, when the Supreme Crewneck FW18, Dark Green was first put up live on the official supreme website, it sold out in 3.7 seconds. Back then, its retail price was $158 USD, but now it currently sells for approximately $800 USD.
Kanye West Wearing Supreme
Even though Supreme dominates the clothing industry, it still has heavy competition from other underground clothing brands such as Off white, Bape, Kaws, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and many more. All of these brands have broken barriers into other high-status industries (music and acting). Many celebrities wear these clothes to get an expensive and cool look.
For example, in 2013, MTV asked a designer known as Kaws to design a character for the award ceremony. Kaws was a designer from NYC who started as a graffiti artist and broke into the street-wear scene. He is well respected with modern day street-wear culture. He created this character from his previous work. It was made and displayed at the 2013 MTV awards. This just proves how dominant these clothing and merchandise brands have become in society.
KAWS 'Moon Man'
So who actually purchases these clothes and merchandise to make these brands so successful? They are called hypebeasts. These are the people that are willing to wait days as well as spending thousands of dollars to get the latest clothing drop. These people are usually within a group of young males. They are all trying to boost their status by showing they can afford this rare item. This need for status is what makes these companies money. One of these hypebeasts were asked interview after they came out of a "Palace" (clothing brand) store. Omer who is 17 and queued up for six hours, as well as spending $400 USD on the product, said he "doesn't like it that much" after purchasing.
These companies have many smart business techniques. After Supreme opened in 1994, it started a small loyal following, and after that, it exploded into the brand today. James Jebbia, the owner of Supreme, expressed the fact that he doesn't supply and demand like other brands. He quoted, "If there are 600 people wanting a product I'll only make 400." This is a risky tactic, but it makes people even more desperate for the product who are willing to do anything to get the product.
Hype-Beasts Lining Up Outside Supreme Store
Sneakers are another huge part of streetwear, with companies such as Jordan, Nike and Adidas dominating the market. All these brands have also collaborated with hypebeast brands, to boost their audiences. Shoes can range from $100 - $10,000 due to its rarity. Sneaker culture has been larger than hypebeast culture and has been around longer. With many different generations wearing the products of Nike and Jordan, it has been a huge part of modern-day street-wear culture and completes the look of a hypebeast.
Celebrities largely influence the choice of sneakers that people buy. For example, Michael Jordan is the man behind the Jordan brand, and people want that piece of history on their feet. In the 1997 NBA final, Michael Jordan had the flu, but he didn't back down from the playing in the game and ended the match with scoring an unexpected 38 points. He was wearing Jordan 12s during that game. The shoe became to be known as the Jordan 12 "Flu game." The sneaker currently sells for $400 USD compared to the other Jordan 12 colourways which sell for much less as they don't have the same story behind them.
Michael Jordan Wearing the Jordan 12 'Flu Game'
Street-wear culture in modern day society is a big part of many peoples' lives. Many people are willing to wait days to even get the chance to buy these products. These brands have such a large influence on modern culture and will continue to do so for many more years.