Streetwear's Economic Bubble: How Long Can It Last?
What is a bubble, Wiktionary defines it as follows. A spherically contained volume of air or other gas, especially one made from soapy liquid. But what is a Economic bubble? An economic bubble or asset bubble (sometimes also referred to as a speculative bubble, a market bubble, a price bubble blah blah. Is trade in an asset at a price or price range that strongly exceeds the asset's intrinsic value. Let's remember that phrase, "intrinsic value".
We've seen “bubbles,” or boom and bust periods for some time now.From tulips back in historic ages to the American housing market. They are not a modern concept. How do they work, simply put item A hits the market and people love it. So much so that they form lines in the street, instantly buying out supplys. Repeat this everytine a new drop hits, eventually opportunistic suppliers or "Resellers" catch on and mark up prices for extra profit.
They see that no one seems to mind too much so they continue to raise prices, but Item A is hot so who cares? We'll pay what ever ur askin for em. This continues until the price asked for item A far exceeds the "intrinsic value" of the item it's self. Eventually people who lined up to spend there last on item A, doesn't quite think it's so cool anymore. And just like that what was once a boom has turned to bust.
In 1841, Scottish writer Charles Mackay published Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. The book detailed examples of social epidemics, market speculation, and urban legends. In the 177 years since its publication, Mackay’s outline of how humans form social in-groups and endorse the absurd to their own detriment has only grown in relevance. Its insights are particularly relevant to the realm of streetwear today.
Streetwear has been definitive for the 21st-century youth, any major city you visit you're bound to see countless young people in name you fav streetwear brand. It is a bubble at least two decades in the making whose growth shows little sign of slowing. It has evolved from the uniform of skaters, punks, and hip-hop heads to a commercial fad powerful enough to upend the fashion industry itself.
One thing this new found hysteria has caused in streetwear’s mainstream success, is the rise of recognition and admonishment.
Now generations old fashion houses who previously scofed at the notion of streetwear, (check out our last video on high fashion and streetwear) have fully embraced the many of the things that made streetwear a thing. Streetwear OGs like Bobby Hundreds of famed The Hundreds, has gone on record in saying “After 14 years of building my own brand, The Hundreds, I saw the ‘streetwear’ label get twisted and turned by the media and mainstream… Today, streetwear is the hottest hashtag in style, youth culture, and music, but no one agrees on what it means or where it came from.”
Fear of God’s Jerry Lorenzo once defined streetwear in the following way: “No investors, no partners etc. The product is pure, as we’re not on the fashion calendar… I guess anything would be considered street that comes outside of the traditional fashion system.” The Irony is, Lorenzo's brand along with others are now deeply engrossed in the system. The majority have outside investment (including Supreme — even before the $500 million Carlyle Group deal) and the fashion industry as a whole has followed streetwear’s lead, forgoing seasonality more and more with each passing year.
But once apone a time streetwear did exist outside the established systems of mainstrem, the cross over happened around 2017.
In the earlier days there were hundreds if not thousands of small streetwear brands, everybody wanted to jump one off mainly because it was pretty cheap. Relying heavily on graphics and screenprinting rather than cut-and-sew, and it’s culturally viable. Often containing catchy parses, or relevant imagery.