On the GameStop Thing and Streetwear.

27 Jan 2021

If you read my book, there are a couple quotes that resonate louder tonight in light of the GameStop short squeeze.

1) “Streetwear doesn’t die. It multiplies.”

Streetwear is not a product relegated to T-shirts, hoodies, and sneakers. It’s an attitude and business strategy that can apply to other industries and marketplaces. For decades, streetwear brands like Supreme and sneaker sellers pioneered the “hype” business model of limited-edition drops fueled by anti-establishment, culture-based groundswells. These days, the most successful businesses – from tech startups to restaurants to furniture makers – understand the power of intentional scarcity, Veblen goods, and capitalizing on the hype economy. For the streetwear-minded, this week’s stock market shakeup is thrilling, but not confusing or unexpected. We are used to watching young communities rally together to up-end systems. Our culture thrives off of momentum-based runs, inspired by emotional, social movements. We know how to make something out of nothing, manufacture trends, and toy with perceived value. I spoke to a traditional finance friend this morning who remarked that, “None of this makes sense.” Baffled garmentos said the same about our $30 T-shirts and $150 Dunks twenty years ago.

2) “People used to buy streetwear because nobody else wore it. Now, they buy it because everyone else is wearing it.”

As evidenced by stonks and bitcoin collectables like cryptomedia and NFTs, our culture is transitioning from “standing out” to “fitting in.” It used to be cool to be the outsider, now everyone wants to be first in line as an insider. I can write another essay about why this is (and the threat of compromising individuality in pursuit of community), but we are clearly LONGING for BELONGING (see political tribalism). In her 2017 essay, “My Collectible Ass,” McKenzie Wark writes, “The future of collecting may be less in owning the thing that nobody else has, and more in owning the thing that everybody else has.” Again, very streetwear. When we share the cheat codes and mobilize together, all boats rise.

From destabilized government to toppling industries, the upheaval and decentralization are interconnected. Without quality leadership, we have appointed ourselves the Leaders. With unfettered access to information, the old guard – the gatekeepers – can’t keep the people at bay. We at The Hundreds like to say, “Strength in Numbers,” in reference to the community and it’s days like today that reveal the Might of the Many. I’m hopeful, entertained, and scared out of my wits at how fast and violently this is all happening. But, as any hypebeast will tell you, it’s been a long time coming. And it’s about to get really fun.

—X—