The other day, Virgil Abloh claimed that streetwear was dead. Or dying. Or something like that. I don’t know, I didn’t read the whole story, just saw a bunch of angry tweets about it.
But taking the statement at face value, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Streetwear is evolving, if anything. It’s developing sub-categories like new tentacles that reach into all the different spaces of fashion. And kids are eating it up.
Maybe it’s understandable that Abloh is over streetwear, he’s nearing 40 and fully entrenched in high fashion and no longer has much use for the streetwear world that vaulted him to fame and fortune. But the kids? They still love it. And while teenagers of previous generations wanted to be the next great filmmaker or pop off as a SoundCloud rapper, every single one today has their own streetwear brand with a full cut-and-sew collection coming soon!
You wouldn’t believe the amount of kids that hit us up to get critique and feedback on their upstart brands. And more power to them. This modern age of the internet and ecommerce has made starting a clothing business more accessible than ever. And some of them actually work, too. We did a collab this year with a brand started by two 20-year-olds that had a couple million in sales in their first 18 months or so of existing.
But before a kid gets the idea to start a streetwear brand, they must have absolutely loved streetwear culture. Been obsessed with it. They probably studied the ins and outs of the industry, the history of it, what works, what doesn’t. But when you look at the price points on most streetwear brands, it’s hard to imagine how kids today are affording it, outside of having access to mommy and daddy’s credit card. It’s tough to afford $150 hoodies on $8/hour from the grocery store.
And while some are surely racking up credit card debt the second they turn 18, many others are taking advantage of a booming new-slash-not-really-new development in the financial world: buy now, pay later companies that break your purchase up into easily digestible installments and don’t whack you over the head with hidden fees and interest like a credit card does.
While layaway has been a thing forever, there are now services like Sezzle, Affirm, and Klarna who will let you checkout on streetwear online shops (and other ecommerce sites, too) so you can get your products right away and worry about affording it later. Sezzle, for example, splits the cost of products up in four interest-free installments for shoppers 18 and over, charging just the four split-up payments, plus a $5 fee if you need to reschedule a payment or $10 if you flat-out miss a payment and don’t fix it within 48 hours. Honestly, pretty flexible.
Today, people are more suspicious of banks than ever, with an entire generation keeping their money in their Cash App rather than a checking account, so it only makes sense that lenders would shift with the times and speak to consumers in a language they understand aka prioritizing transparency and making fees reasonable and easy to understand, rather than drowning customers in fine print. Sezzle doesn’t “check” your credit (save for a soft check that doesn’t harm your score) and they don’t report to credit bureaus, so the risk is fairly low. Services like these allow those who aren’t flush with cash to afford the things they want in a way that works for them.
So, yeah, pay-later services are great for shoppers without a big bankroll, but that’s not the only people who can use them. Think of the resale possibilities! Instead of laying out a ton of cash for inventory to stock your aftermarket empire, you can use services like this to stretch out your payments so you could actually move some or all of the product and get the revenue back before your payments are due. I think I just started a billion dollar business in a blog.
While the idea of getting young people financing their purchases is a little sketchy, at least services like these do it in a way that isn’t predatory like payday loans or the companies that sat outside Subway on my college campus and traded free footlongs for credit card sign-ups (I had lots of extra sandwich-related debt by the time I left school, their fees weren’t as friendly as Sezzle’s).
To the kids who find this blog on Google while looking up the possible pitfalls of financing your streetwear dreams, kudos to you for doing your research, and just be smart. Don’t bite off more than you can chew and you should be fine. Read all the FAQs and be aware of all the fee schedules you’re signing up for. And, if all else fails, sell the stuff, pay back your loan, and keep the change.
[In the interest of full disclosure, The Hundreds offers consumers the option to pay using Sezzle’s services on our App and Online Shop]