The Block Party feat. Cleo: Hype Culture, Collaboration and Supreme
Why are you wearing Supreme? Let’s talk about streetwear for a minute.
Hype culture has generated an insatiable thirst for unattainable merchandise. The more difficult it is to find an item of clothing, the more coveted it becomes. Slap on an unjustifiably loud price tag and you’ve created a 'hype' piece.
I read an article the other day entitled, ”Streetwear Is Mainstream Now: Get Over It.” by Alec Leach. It addressed the progression of this elusive category of fashion; a once underground hub for collaborative creatives to generate clothing that was deemed niche, and remained so.
Streetwear is everywhere; it is arguably the most accessible genre of fashion at the moment, available at fast fashion brands such as Zara as well as runway brands such as Comme des Garçons. Moreso, with the drop of the Louis Vuitton x Supreme collaboration in March of 2017, the increasingly hazy line between 'street fashion' and 'high fashion' was ultimately obliterated.
The two have collided, in an unapologetic statement that speaks volumes on the impact of social media on this generation’s perception of exclusivity. Leach’s argument was that although streetwear used to be niche, it can no longer exist as such, in a world where if you didn’t buy the 'hype' piece, then you’ll encounter it anyway countless times online.
“We fell in love with streetwear because it was underground — a complex world of niche brands appropriating and repurposing pop culture to create something new and exciting.” – Alec Leach, for High Snobiety, April 2017.
Streetwear fascinates me, but then again so does Dior. Specifically, Dior in 2017 with Maria Grazia Chiuri as their first female Creative Director in 70 years; her collections included both intricately, embroidered couture gowns alongside one of the year’s most hyped pieces, a plain white T with the words, “We Should All Be Feminists” printed onto it in sans serif. A perfect example of the amalgamation of these once disparate sectors of fashion.
Diversity keeps streetwear alive, and with collaboration as its predominant marketing tool, there is no foreseeable ceiling of possibility. We used a Supreme beach ball, a generic hype piece, throughout the editorial shoot in this article as a satirical comment on the overexposure of hype brands on social media at the moment.
Angel Diaz wrote a piece for Complex magazine in 2015 entitled, “F*ck Hypebeasts: Why Supreme Will Never Fall Off.” Diaz commented, “... that box logo is as timeless as the Nike Swoosh. It’s the Nike Swoosh of Streetwear.”
Supreme grew organically, and is a staple of New York underground youth culture. It is a logo that I admire, and a brand that generates consistent, natural and unquestionable hype both in-store and online.
Diaz's prediction will most likely stand true, because at the end of the day, Supreme did it first.
Putting the concept of 'hype' aside, brands like this are not where the true talent lies. Local street fashion is the new niche, so if you haven’t done some research as to what’s around in your city, then I suggest you start. Because everyone’s seen Yeezy’s, and there’s nothing genuinely novel about Supreme.
The globalization of streetwear allows for a genre that feeds off of itself. The word ‘mainstream’, although attached to negative connotations, also implies powerful international appeal. It means resonance and worldwide reach. For local designers, and for the fashion industry as a whole, these are all methods of staying alive.
Hype brands like Supreme are the foundation of an industry that has become as chameleon as it is predictable. It’s an evolutionary time in fashion right now, where local designers are reshaping what it means to be successful. So pay attention.
Invest in something different. Find balance between hype and talent, generate your own interpretation of streetwear through remaining critical.
And ask yourself, why are you wearing Supreme?
Art Direction and Styling of this Editorial were done in collaboration with Yasmine Kenawi, Egyptian Style Blogger based between Cairo and New York City, founder of Cleo in the City, and friend of the magazine. Photography and Editing by Hady Ashraf. Shot in Cairo, Egypt.
Brand line up: Supreme Beach Ball, Nasty Gal Holographic Swimsuit, Nasty Gal Scalloped Swimsuit in White, Altru Apparel LIFE magazine tribute T Shirt from Stitch and Trace, "Ladies is Pimps Too" T Shirt by Leah Kirsch, Sunglasses by Urban Outfitters, Zara Jeans Shorts, Urban Outfitters Purple Boyfriend Dress, UNTY "Lust X" T Shirt, Tinted Lense "Apollo 590" Shades by Amr Saad, OKHTEIN Orange Dome Belt Bag, OPENING CEREMONY Red Platform Shoes, Zara Red Kitten Heels, TopShop x Skinnydip Shell Bag, Food and Beverages Mcdonald's