Is the streetwear bubble about to pop? Highsnobiety weighs in with an essay that has us all thinking.
Highsnobiety has a scary article this week on whether the streetwear bubble is about to burst. Throughout history, there have been countless instances of “bubbles”, involving everything from tulips to the American housing market crash in 2008. And if Douglas Brundage is correct, the feverish hype surrounding streetwear will end with an almighty pop. Here is an excerpt:
Today’s consumer culture is a dream come true for the finance guys over at Nike, adidas, LVMH, and Kering, yet it’s creating an evolving reality in which items that should cost a few hundred dollars end up being retailed for thousands and then resold for triple those prices.
What if, as sites like StockX suggest is starting to happen, the demand for some of these items doesn’t meet the supply? What you have is a huge set of products that are overinflated in price, bearing little relation to the intrinsic value of the garment because its value has been defined solely by hype.
That’s the classic first warning sign of a bubble.
Streetwear has long battled for legitimacy in the fashion universe, but now that its coup d’état has succeeded, it’s left with little to give besides a hype-based business model and a penchant for styling, photography, and marketing that makes it all look a lot more exciting than it actually is. It’s in the best interest of all parties involved that their products continue to demand a high level of cultural credibility and cool.
Yet a little sleuthing on the web tells a different story — one of excess inventory, sinking profits, and vast discrepancies in pricing between the likes of StockX, Stadium Goods, and eBay, for example. What we have here is industry-wide speculation: the second tell–tale sign of a bubble.
No matter what happens, we can’t keep up the charade. YEEZYs, once the holy grail of streetwear, are now available for days at a time online at retail price before selling out. Brands such as Vetements are rumored to be underperforming from a financial perspective. ComplexCon, the ultimate celebration of the culture, has been on the end of a substantial backlash from consumers, oddly, for being too consumerist. The cycle might just be coming to a close. Like with the late-’90s dotcom bubble, the subprime mortgage crisis, and even bitcoin, warning signs abound.
You can read the rest here.
And a dissenting position here
Cover photo by Tolga Akmen via 52 insights. Article photo by Francois Mori via Quartzy