If you walk down the streets of any major city, you’ll see young people of all backgrounds dressed in similar garb. Sweatpants, graphic t-shirts, and sneakers are as common on today’s sidewalks as spit out chewing gum. During the winter months, you’d be able to spot bomber jackets and military boots on some especially trendy kids. These pieces of clothing constitute the foundation of the streetwear/sneaker culture that has gained tremendous popularity in recent years. Though this culture may be defined by casual apparel, it is a serious business with great entrepreneurial implications. Clothing manufacturers, retail vendors, models, and countless others profit off of this new fashion explosion. Corporate conglomerates like Nike and Adidas have stakes in its continuation as do little-known designers to whom it has brought exposure and popularity.
The streetwear-sneaker industry has many facets to it, but the most interesting to me is the potential resale value in the products. One of the defining characteristics of this trend is the exclusivity of many of its pieces. A shirt with a simple graphic may not attract any attention if you could buy it in any Target or Walmart, but if it has a $100 price tag and there are only 1,000 being made, you’d likely be interested in sporting it. Entrepreneurs know this and capitalize on it by getting their hands on as much of these exclusive items as they can and then reselling them for high over their retail value. These resellers scheme in whatever way they can including through connections with clothing companies and even by hacking retail websites.
The newfound prominence of streetwear depends on social media. Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook give ordinary people a platform to share pictures of them in sought after clothing with large audiences. This contributes to building the “hype” around items. For example, a picture of Kanye West wearing a certain jacket may circulate around the internet and make that jacket sell out instantly, so it is a great tool for advertising. On the other side, social media gives consumers a chance to “flex” or “stunt” on their followers, which makes them want to buy more clothing and sneakers with which to do so. Resellers also use social media and other tools of the internet like eBay to advertise and sell their products. As social media has become more popular, so has streetwear, which begs the question if streetwear will continue to dominate the fashion industry as social media appears to only be entrenching itself deeper into our lives. Is this a trend or a new wave that’s here to stay? This blog will explore the many components of the streetwear-sneaker culture, the role social media has had in popularizing it, and what streetwear might become in the future. Stay tuned.