What makes streetwear so cool? Native to American surfing, skateboarding and hip-hop cultures in the 80s and 90s, it may be because this style brings with it some energy. Oversized t-shirts and tracksuits allow you to move freely, jump, dance, run or cycle without any problems. It's relaxed, fresh, young and dynamic. This enthusiasm is visible in the streetwear community, whether it is offline (queue in front of physical shops) or online (delirium of drops online like at Supreme). The strength of the streetwear community is contagious.
Historically, streetwear has an anarchist attitude, which stems from a rebellion against haute couture. Unlike designer brands, streetwear looks effortless and comfortable. The most successful brands know you have to reach everyone. They therefore attract the masses by closely monitoring trends and observing how people interpret them, and then do the same. Nowadays, certain brand logos on basic t-shirts or the latest sneakers are at the top of the shopping list and, for some, they are just as sought after as a designer handbag.
The community starts online. Many big streetwear brands are hugely successful and have phenomenal engagement statistics on the networks. Social networks go hand in hand with streetwear. Some fans register outfits every day to see prices drop afterwards. Which means they must have a look at a reasonable price. Just take a look at Reddit's Streetwear Startup forum where emerging fashion designers post photos and receive all kinds of user feedback.
It’s a great place to spot new talent and keep an eye out for new trends. Thanks to the Internet, fans are invited to interact with creators, which bridges the gap between the brand and the consumer. They now feel they have a real impact on building a brand. The Basement is another online group (with 75,000 members on Facebook and 276,000 subscribers on Instagram) where people from all walks of life can get involved in streetwear culture from home, whether it's clothing, music or even political and social issues.
The approach and accessibility of these virtual forums is far from limited designer shops and closed sellers. These online communities also give people the opportunity to make money by encouraging the resale market. Depop is a cross between eBay and Instagram where people can easily sell their products. By inviting small businesses to do business and allowing people to make money from their bedroom, brands are showing that they want to donate. Thanks to this, streetwear always stays true to its roots - the DIY philosophy - and fans love it.
Not everything happens only on social networks, as this commitment is also reflected offline. Streetwear brands demonstrate their commitment to their subscribers by organizing meetings, sponsoring sporting events or investing in meeting places. All of this allows members to meet in real life, bring friends and further develop the community. In 2014 VANS opened House of VANS under the arches of Waterloo and this year Supreme donated £ 50,000 to the restoration of London's Southbank Skate Park because they knew how important this place was for their teenage fan club.
However, even if streetwear once represented the gritty underbelly of fashion, high-end brands are now producing their own expensive version to reach a new audience. We’re mainly talking about teenagers with disposable income who are ready to save their pocket money and spend their weekend mornings queuing up for the latest versions. This thirst for branding is the gold dust of retailers and a number of big names in the luxury industry, from Balenciaga to Gucci. But can they really emulate the success of streetwear and make it look authentic?
It's not just the way streetwear fans talk about it, but the brand's tone will be unequivocal in all cases, be it fake or marketing, which makes it human and easy to tell. Palace, for example, writes as if they don't care about sales: "Your mom looks like Coldplay's" is one of their tweets to their 99k followers. This approach works because it makes people laugh and allows them to read the tweet like a real voice you hear on the street. The cold, calculated copy of expensive brands cannot be compared.
In terms of streetwear, it is not an avant-garde design (a few letters on a white t-shirt is hardly revolutionary) and not the meaning of the logo: a close community. High-end brands may try to copy the style, but you won't see the crowd stay that long. The essence of streetwear is to belong to a tribe where fans associate images with peers. As long as streetwear brands continue to treat their customers like real people and engage with them authentically online and offline, they will remain infallible.
This is where our idea came from to build such a close-knit community. This goes through Instagram (@hishikastore) where we are already more than 52,000 or even with our Ambassador program. Today we have a huge community of over 1,000 ambassadors. Let the brand live together on the Internet and soon for real!