Bitcoin vs. Box Logo

1504588717993-supreme
A line formed outside of Supreme (Image via Vice)

A surging interest in alternative types of currency has led to a recent peak in the value of the ‘bitcoin’. The bitcoin proves itself to be dangerous to the classic types of currency, like the dollar, because the compared value is genuinely unknown. In January 2012, the value of a bitcoin was $6. In January 2018, the value was $16k. In just 6 years, the value of the bitcoin increased enough to make a few lucky investors rich for life.

Alternatively, the value of certain streetwear brands has followed this trend. In the 1990s, Supreme was a small New York skate shop worn by local skateboarders, much like any other local skate shop. They made clothing, skateboards and accessories that were popular among the skate community, but otherwise not very common. Fast forward to 2017, and the brand can’t seem to keep their shop in stock for more than a few minutes on release days. Fans will camp out doors for hours before they open with a new collection on Thursdays at 11am EST.

Supreme’s clothing is so valuable, because similar to bitcoin, it is limited in production. Unlike everyday brands, Supreme is harder to come by, and simple economics says that when something is scare, the value increases. This concept of scarcity, along with the popularization of the brand in 2012 by the hip-hop group Odd Future led by Tyler, the Creator, led to immediate success.

Fast forward to 2017, and Supreme is doing collaborations with major fashion brands such as Comme des Garcons and Louis Vuitton, which only increase the want for their products. The humor of it is, the t-shirts they sell are only $36. However, they sell out every single time they are released, which increases the value to sometimes over $500. In 2017, Supreme also sold stake in their company to they Carlyle Investment Group, which valued the New York skate shop at $1 billion.

As the economy continues to produce uncertainty, people are finding alternative ways to create markets and make money, whether it be cryptocurrency or clothing.

Just Skip It

 

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 11.43.16 PM
Designer Virgil Abloh holds his custom Nike Air Jordan 1 sneaker (Image via twitter @virgilabloh)

Do you ever scroll past a video that requires you to watch an advertisement beforehand? Do you pay premiums on accounts like Spotify and Pandora in order to get undisturbed content? If so, you are part of a majority of  Generation-Y individuals who are fed up with being exposed to constant marketing.

Advertisements are increasingly viewed as unreliable sources of information, because consumers are aware that they ads are exactly what the company wants you to see. In fact, 38 percent of internet users have Adblock installed on their computers, and 67 percent trust customer reviews over what brands have to say. Consumers are now seeking third-party validation, and brands are starting to listen.

There are many brands in existence that you have not and probably never will see ads for. Think about it… when’s the last time you saw a commercial for Louis Vuitton? Never. This is because certain brands, those whose products and services do not cater towards the everyday American, utilize a different type of exposure called earned media. More common brands, like Adidas, are also beginning to drift away from television advertisements as they recognize how ineffective they are at reaching their target market.

The Difference Between Earned and Paid MediaScreen Shot 2018-02-04 at 11.42.21 PM
Earned media is word-of-mouth. It isn’t what the brand has paid to get the public interested in their product. It’s the gossip and excitement surrounding their product that has happened (almost) naturally. An example from 2017 would be Nike’s “The Ten” collaboration with Virgil Abloh. Many months before the shoe released, Abloh’s reconstructed Air Jordan 1 was spotted on the feet of Drake, A$AP Rocky, Chris Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., Travis Scott, and even Roger Federer. It seems like the only name missing is Mr. West (three stripe loyalty). It wasn’t revealed until closer to the release date that there were nine other models being made. At that point, the hype had already surrounded the shoe, and fans were excited about the release. On release day, each shoe sold out within seconds. I personally tried for every pair and had zero luck. Instead of paying for advertisements on Instagram or TV, Nike was clever to sit back and let Abloh give a few pairs out to a few of his friends in high places. In the year 2017, Nike recorded a $102.3 million value of estimated earned media.

The downside to earned media is that it may not always reach the intended audience or have the right amount of influence to get going. In Abloh’s case, having his own personal influence in design and streetwear culture set him far above any other competitors. The market for The Ten was also much more niche than that of a standard Nike shoe, which is why that specific earned media campaign was so successful at generating hype and subsequently getting the shoe to sell out.

Supreme, Palace, Bape, Vlone, and Off-White (just to name a few) are not in the business of making advertisements. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t have a marketing budget. Their earned media comes from respected hip-hop influencers who like their clothes and wear them in public. For example, people respect Kanye’s opinion and taste in fashion, so when he steps out of the house wearing a basic The North Face jacket, people will follow suit and purchase the same jacket, thus creating earned media for The North Face. In order for future streetwear brands to succeed, they must recognize the necessity of earned media, and cater to the fashion gurus of the hip-hop community, as they hold all of the power.

3 Things Brands Are Doing to Enhance Corporate Social Responsibility

Tension has drastically risen within American society and politics, and brands who do business in the public sphere see no exemption. For example, Uber has faced increasing backlash over assault allegations from founder Travis Kalanick, and have since removed him from the company. Pepsi was put on twitter-trial for their advertisement with Kendall Jenner that seemed to trivialize matters regarding police brutality. In the streetwear/hip-hop community,  Nike ended their relationship with Vlone founder A$AP Bari due to a video that arose of him verbally assaulting a woman. According to writer Susan McPherson at Forbes, brands are starting to make moves and raise their standards in an attempt be more socially responsible and avoid having to issue apology statements to consumers. Here are three ways in which they are improving their interactions with the public.

Cutting Ties. Due to the current nature of social media, word can spread faster than expected. Businesses are starting to learn to cut someone out of the picture–and to do it quickly. In Nike’s case, the Vlone x Air Force One sneaker was one of the hottest Nike collaborations of the year, retailing for $250 and reselling for over $2,000. Regardless of success, businesses like Nike are distancing themselves from people who don’t fit into their principles.

Holding suppliers accountable. With many contractable suppliers available, it is easier for brands to hold their overseas suppliers accountable for employee working conditions. As the world becomes increasingly globalized, corporations are realizing that their actions are affecting others all across the world. Holding their suppliers accountable is direct action needed to improve the lives of many living in poverty across the world.

panorama-11
Frank Ocean performing at Panorama Fest NYC (Image via Alex Reside for GQ)

Inclusion. Brands like Nike are showing that they care about their customers by getting involved with social justice movements. Their Equality.  line is specifically designed to show support and demand equality for the Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ movements which car increase support from certain target consumers. Maybe we’ll get to see a Nike x Frank Ocean collaboration in the near future?

The one that got away

Embed from Getty Images
Kanye West reveals his Yeezy Season 2 fashion line

Since signing a deal with Nike in 2009, the infamous rapper/producer/designer Kanye West has been spearheading the sneaker industry with timeless silhouettes and the most coveted releases. West’s ‘Air Yeezy’ was the shoe that every ball player, superstar and fashion icon wanted on their feet, and it’s only gotten more hectic since he left for Adidas.

In 2014, West left Nike – for many reasons – and signed a deal with their top competitor, Adidas. West was quoted on tour ranting about how the Nike brand wouldn’t let him be in charge of the creative process of his own shoe. He also wanted to get into clothing, which was something they didn’t think would be profitable. Like any other sportswear company at the time, Nike was athlete-oriented. They did not see the importance that lifestyle and streetwear would play in future fashions at the time; however, Adidas did.

Adidas’ acquisition of Kanye West to the team has created a certain loyalty from consumers to the ‘three stripe life’. Since switching to the new brand, Adidas stock has risen roughly 216 percent to $184 a share, while Nike stock has risen 188 percent to $68 a share. While Nike has seen a great increase, it is unparalleled to the value that has been created due to West’s influence within the fashion community.

Many companies, including Nike, are using ‘The West Model’ to push their brands beyond sportswear. Nike has signed many rappers and cultural influencers in the hip-hop community, like Vlone’s A$AP Bari and Off-White’s Virgil Abloh, in an attempt to revitalize the Air Force One and create conversation among the brand. Puma has signed on hip-hop/pop artists Rhianna and The Weeknd, while Reebok picked up massively influential hip-hop artists Kendrick Lamar and Future.

VLONE-x-Nike-Air-Force-1-Low-1-681x494
Nike x Vlone Air Force One (Image via Vlone)

We are now in an era where athletes are having less influence on the sneaker and streetwear community, as opposed to their hip-hop counterparts. The evolution of the culture is in-part due to the fact that hip-hop artists are able to make shoes that are more versatile and better suited for daily life. Additionally, hip-hop is an important cultural influence on the millennial generation. Spotify’s Global Top 50 chart shows evidence that there is a constant stream of hip-hop music, with artists like Post Malone and Migos topping the chart week after week. Hip-hop is here to stay, and so is the influence that comes from these artists like Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar. With Nike, Kanye will always be seen as the one that got away.

Not another fashion blog

051717-shows-beta-migos-behind-the-lights-2
( Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Philymack)

Fashion and hip-hop have become increasingly coexistent within the past 10 years.  While rappers are typically known to be dressed in the newest shoes and trendiest outfits, the method in which these artists and their fans dress has undergone serious change. Hip-hop artists are no longer wearing Jordans or Air Force Ones. They are now exploring more individualized high-end brands like Balenciaga and Maison Martin Margiela.

Rappers are also now the ones who are designing and collaborating with brands that models and athletes are wearing. Icons like Kanye West and A$AP Rocky have singlehanded changed the way many of us dress–and most of us don’t even realize it. The reasoning behind this is due to their massive influence and following. Now, it’s true that not everyone is buying pieces from Kanye’s astronomically priced fashion line, like this $195 camouflage long sleeve t-shirt, but they are buying his still-expensive-but-more-reasonably-priced shoes with Adidas, and they are selling out within minutes every time a new color way is released. Kids are no longer waiting in lines to buy shoes from their favorite athlete; they are waiting in line to buy shoes from their favorite rapper.

1495195895_486_Travis-Scott-Is-Becoming-a-Fashion-Icon-for-a-New-Generation
Travis Scott in Supreme x Louis Vuitton box logo tee (Image via Getty/Jacopo Raule)

The influence of hip-hop artists wearing certain brands has also created a massive cult-like following in brands like Off-White and Supreme, which have become centerpieces in modern fashion. In fact, the only efficient way to get a hoodie from Supreme is to either buy a computer program to automatically purchase it the second it drops, or pay resell which can run you over 500 percent of the initial cost. The hype is due to rappers like Tyler the Creator and Travis Scott wearing the brand on many occasions. The ultimate path to publicity for fashion brands is to get an artist like Drake or Quavo to wear their brand and flex it on social media.

In this blog, I will analyze the ways that brands and artists have used each other and their influence to promote their work, and why certain brands are perceived the way they are to the public.