Hypebeast Culture Is Just As Toxic As Your Hypebeast Ex
Deadass about Deadstock
( @supremenewyork / Instagram )
Someone needs to say it, so Rowdy will: hypebeast culture and consumerism is killing streetwear.
Many of today’s most coveted streetwear brands were originally independent clothing labels founded by and for underground subcommunities and subcultures. These were your skaters, surfers, punks, hip-hop heads. You know the vibe. In the ‘80s, laidback California label Stüssy emerged on the scene just because founder Sean Stüssy got in the habit of screenprinting shirts for his friends, and signed his surname on them in a graffiti-esque style.
Youth movements are to thank for the birth of streetwear, which is honestly a beautiful thing. But, from then to now, so much has changed.
Hypebeasts have taken over the once-underground streetwear community. What’re hypebeasts, you ask? Exactly what they sound like: people interested in certain brands just because there’s a lot of “hype” surrounding them, only buying things/following trends to appear cool or fashionable.
So instead of streetwear being made for the people, it’s being made for the hypebeast reseller who has the quickest bot and an in with some random Flight Club employee.
Not surprisingly, the internet and social media played a big role in this. They propelled streetwear into the mainstream, thus creating, as writer Jonah Engel Bromwich put it, a “familiar cycle of lines, drops, and resells”.
Reselling has a lot to do with the negative connotation many associate with streetwear. It’s arguably streetwear’s most toxic trait, but alas, streetwear/hypebeast culture relies heavily on the resale market. Platforms like StockX, Grailed, GOAT, and Nike’s exclusive SNKRS app enable resellers to buy up the stock of a particular grail (highly coveted item) at retail price and sell it back to consumers at an incredibly marked-up rate. The demand is still there though; People still buy items at disgustingly jacked resale prices.This is why a tee that probably costs less than $10 to make can retail for $80 and then resell for $250+ just because it has words A Bathing Ape on it.
The stronghold that brands like Stüssy, Supreme, Palace, and Cactus Plant Flea Market have comes from scarcity. While exclusivity in fashion is a shitty practice in itself, streetwear culture takes it to a whole ‘nother level, feeding off of the exclusive nature of limited drops. For some, missing a Supreme drop evokes the same feelings as losing a loved one: pain, shock, sadness. It can be that hard to get your hands on a piece — if there is too much supply, the demand just won't meet it. If every hypebeast could have as many authentic Supreme box logo tees as they want, it wouldn’t be as special.
Resale culture fosters mindless consumerism. It sucks that someone with genuine interest in a product or even just the brand’s message is unable to cop what they want at a fair price because someone else who’s only looking to turn a profit has already beaten them to buying it.
What’s worse, the gender stereotyping and socioeconomic disparity that hypebeast culture subscribes to and promotes is so not in-fashion.
The industry is still mostly dominated by straight men. Bobby Kim, owner of Los Angeles-based streetwear label The Hundreds, has said that “a lot of [the designers] are white men. Straight white men. That's how I always felt growing up, looking up at all my favorite designers—it's all Orange County white men. On the urban side, the face of [streetwear] was young black men. But I never saw anyone who looked like me. I never saw anyone who looked like the women around me.”
Streetwear provides an easy outlet for men to belong to a social group through clothing — reinforcing male privilege and the gender binary in the process. Nearly every major streetwear brand caters primarily to men, creating pieces in only men’s sizes, promoting content that men put out about their products on YouTube and Instagram. This points out a glaring problem within streetwear and hypebeast culture.
Further, each piece (especially when being resold) costs an insane amount of money — money that so many people who want to be a part of the culture just don’t have. Not to mention, streetwear is incredibly unsustainable and contributes so heavily to fast fashion. Streetwear was initially established on the basis of representation and inclusion, two values that seem to have been abandoned in recent years.
We can only hope that, in the coming years, streetwear shies away from the mindless consumerism and resale platform of the present and shifts back into its inclusive and original roots. I get it — We all want to be accepted socially. We all want to have the “coolest” pieces in our closets. And it’s ridiculous that, for hypebeasts, an expensive white T-shirt with a red box across the front is the supreme way to achieve that. Do better, hypebeasts.
Madison Rosenfield is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. When she's not going down internet rabbit holes at 2 AM, she can usually be found curating the perfect Spotify playlist, celebrating her Jewish heritage, crafting, watching coming-of-age films, or taking action in support of causes she cares about. You can find her at @madisonrosenfield on Instagram or @madisonleahh on Twitter to get a deeper look at her passions and perspectives.