Streetwear: Are we buying the fuss or the fabric?

sector - fashion
type - opinion
The co-founders of fashion brand Ballyhoo discuss why the future of hype lies in informed product curation that fuses past, present and future.

We have reached peak hype. Brands from Louis Vuitton to Dunkin Donuts are creating hype collaborations in an effort to build cultural relevancy and contemporary audience connections.

The hype economy has taken on a life of its own with platforms like StockX and GOAT listing sneakers and streetwear items for resell at astronomical prices. And the resell market has become integral to building hype in the world of streetwear.

The more valuable the product, the higher its resale price. A basic Supreme t-shirt retails between £27 and £34 ($38 to $48, €32 to €40). Their more coveted item – a plain white t-shirt with a red Supreme box logo – costs up to £114 ($158, €134). The same t-shirt can resell for a minimum of £363 ($500, €424) via online marketplaces (source: Hypebeast).

But what are consumers actually paying for?

Streetwear used to be deeply connected to cultural knowledge, insider understanding and celebration of subculture. Yet a new cohort of ‘hypekids’ are taking over the limited-edition game and are showing off access to exclusive products as a way of gaining respect among their peers. To many, streetwear has lost its authenticity and true connection to subculture. It feels like that has gotten lost in the competitive game of hype. And people are starting to notice.

As an antidote, Ballyhoo wants to create awareness. We’re questioning what consumers are buying into when it comes to streetwear. By stripping away the cool logo and all the cultural codes that come with it, we spotlight what it is that people are signalling when wearing a logo or a limited drop: the price they’re willing to pay to flex.

Published by:

27 August 2021

Author: Jonas Roth and Rasmus Smith

Image: Ballyhoo, US


Ballyhoo, US

Indeed, price tags are the first thing most of us remove after purchasing an item, but streetwear’s codes and value remain in the logo and exclusivity of the product that we display to the world. With Ballyhoo we are seeking to make this connection very transparent by simply printing the price directly on the t-shirt. We want to make streetwear fans think about what lies behind their purchase and not just get lost in the excitement of the raffle and winning ‘the right to buy’.

At the same time, the references of who we look up to and what we want to identify with and aspire towards has expanded. The idea of aspiration is taking on new meanings. Influencers used to be the go-to online tastemakers, but curators have taken over as the leaders of streetwear and hype.

Accounts like Hidden.ny currently has more than 614,000 followers on Instagram and have built a celebrity fanbase by remixing streetwear cues from past, present and future. The role of these modern curators is to organise and sort through culture to show the rest of us how to master a more complex style expression. It’s not just about posting cute images online but being in the know and combining clothing, objects, books and more based on cultural context and insight.

There is a value in connecting the new with the old, which cannot be achieved through access to the latest brand collaborations. This level of skill can only be achieved through passion and dedication. It is hard for hypekids to replicate. So, as the role of the influencer continues to evolve, curation is emerging as an essential brand strategy in the future of hype culture.

Jonas Roth and Rasmus Smith are the co-founders of Ballyhoo.

'Influencers used to be the go-to online tastemakers, but curators have taken over as the leaders of streetwear and hype'

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