Like any topic, depending on who you're asking, you will get conflicting answers. However, if you ask me, then yes. Part of the blame is placed on the Streetwear industry itself while the other is on the consumer base, more specifically the "short attention span" consumer base. Since its my blog, I'll give you my assessment of what went wrong and whats going to happen in the next couple of years (probably indefinitely).
Culprit 1: Shiny New Toy/Brand Loyalty is a Joke
Oh a new brand with a $80 cotton sweater just came out? Well it must be dope since it costs that much. Welp, I'll just have to drop this brand that's been consistent for the past 10-15+ years and go with the new trend. Change is only good when there's improvement, anything beyond that, you're just dick riding.
Culprit 2: Cost to Retailers
- $14 wholesale for a hat...ok, ok I can rock with dat.
- Oh it's $16 now? Ok, no problem I'll just have to squeeze another $4 from these kids.
- $18 wholesale?! Shit, I guess...
- $20 wholesale?!?! Naw, I'm from Vietnam homie, we don't play that...I'll just make my own in-house brands.
If I'm complaining about these prices on the wholesale end, I can't imagine what the customers are going through. Remember, make sure your stomach is full before you vanity is.
Culprit 3: Everyone's a Designer Now
You got a vision? Do you think people will fuck with the vision? You got $500? Then you got a streetwear brand. Yes, it's that easy. I'm not knocking those trying to make their own brand, hell I'm trying to make my own. I'm just giving you an idea of how easy brands are popping up nowadays and with more competition comes less money for everyone. A part of me love this trend but the other part knows there's gonna be less bread on the table.
Culprit 4: Shit Got Corny
There needs to be a gatekeeper in Streetwear. I say this because a bunch of new and old brands nowadays are really acting like they really tote hammers and is about that life. Let me put it like this, unless your brand is a OG brand by the name of _______________ (you really think I'm dumb enough to disclose the name?), then I don't want to hear it. I got an iPhone screen that's tougher than you.
Culprit 5: New Brands are Here for the Money and Exit
You guys are getting played, these super expensive cool guy Streetwear brands are laughing at you. I've talked to people who know's these people personally and this whole thing is a sham and they're laughing at you for falling for it. They spend more on marketing than actually producing a line that comes from real design and development. Brand like the Hundreds, Hall of Fame, HUF, Benny Gold REALLY put love in their shit and not getting enough recognition. These other new brands that cost double the price is just printing and embroidering on premade "blanks" and selling it at pure Medellin coke prices.
Culprit 6: Everyone is Mr. Cool Now
I don't give a damn how you cut it, how to market it, how you present it...dawg it's clothes. Don't give me that bullshit that it's more than what it is. When the hell did Streetwear became a pretty boy genre where you're afraid of getting your clothes dirty or taking in a few rips here and there. Let me repeat...it's STREETWEAR. As in, it's worn in the streets where you're bond to get it messed up from time to time. People get things twisted when they bought into the stupid expensive price tag of clothing that costs not as much as you think; believe me the markup on some of these newer brands even make me jealous. But once you took some money that would've went into your retirement to buy into the propaganda, you're forever stuck in a nonstop battle to make sure you don't mess that new item up. But here comes the real problem which requires a little economics. Discretionary income for an individual is finite no matter how much money you have. And for most of us, when we spend too much on a single item rather than spreading the love across multiple items that are a lot cheaper, we don't simulate the economy that is Streetwear. In other words, less money gets to go around. Think of it this way, when you go buy a new MacBook for $1800 do you think of going to Flemings and have a $50 steak when you're hungry? Naw dawg, you better get your ass to Jack-In-The-Box to get you a Jumbo Jack and call it a day. Btw I didn't say the Jumbo Jack meal, I said "A JUMBO JACK".
Brands that's been around for a while now will begin to take everything in-house and you'll only be able to get it exclusively through them or from a retailer that was able to finesse a deal. This will drive up demand and hopefully help maintain these brands relevancy. I don't knock them for this strategy either, it seem like the most logical business move.
To conclude, I want to praise the brands that's put in the work for years now and has been sticking to the script by not following the fidget spinner times. Will streetwear rise again, perhaps. Will streetwear ever be the same again, I hope so.
Remember, it's Streetwear, let's keep it Street.
So Nga, if you're so sour about Streetwear, who's some of your favorite designers thats carrying the culture forward?
Easy, my top 3 in order:
Ronnie Fieg | KITH
Eddie Cruz | Undefeated
Bobby Kim | The Hundreds
Oh, here's a video I made about this topic you might enjoy (I'm the Asian that doesn't look like BJ Penn. Thanks CLSC for the shirt!):