FARGO — It’s Saturday morning. Your alarm goes off, ensuring you’re ready by 9. But you’re not leaving the house — rather, you’re hopping on your computer or phone to buy new clothes or sneakers the minute they release.
A prominent trend among high-end and streetwear fashion companies, and even run-of-the-mill athletic companies like Nike and Adidas, is the rise of clothing “drops,” though the limited supply often isn't enough to meet growing demand for this gear.
Streetwear is casual in style and rooted in skateboarder and surfer culture, with graphic T-shirts and hoodies among the style's staples. As it's grown, streetwear has adapted elements of hip-hop and Japanese street fashion.
Some streetwear enthusiasts fans make hundreds of dollars each week flipping products they snag during drops. Clothes can be resold on eBay and other online mainstays, but some specialty sites are designed specifically for buying and selling clothing and sneakers.
Grailed was built to make top-shelf clothing more affordable by connecting buyers with secondhand items.
StockX, which bills itself as "the world's first stock market for things," features only new items. Branson Reasor, a senior at Minnesota State University Moorhead who’s particularly passionate about designer fashion, is drawn to StockX due to his interest in clothing and the stock market.
“StockX is like taking two things that I actually enjoy and it combines both of them,” Reasor says. “There’s so many shoes and crazy pieces that I follow just because I like to know where the prices are fluctuating, because that’s super interesting to me. We’ve created an entire culture around selling clothing like that.”
In a sense, clothing drops are similar to how music artists release content these days, with songs available to download or stream at midnight. Clothes or sneakers will go on sale online or in a store at 9 a.m. Metallica’s self-titled album, commonly known as “The Black Album,” dropped Aug. 12, 1991, and sold 598,000 copies in its first week.
The products in clothing drops are limited in quantity and promoted by designers via social media, sometimes months in advance. When the limited offerings do release, it usually doesn't take long to sell out.
Supreme, a skater-centric brand turned streetwear giant with a $1 billion valuation, is one of the big figures in clothing drops. Supreme does weekly drops in two seasons, the fall/winter and the spring/summer.
The products also release online and sell out within minutes — and Supreme happens to be one of the most resold streetwear brands because of that high demand.
Due to the exclusivity and hype of Supreme’s drops, a T-shirt that retails for $50 can often be resold for more than $200. A headband that dropped last year for $32 is reselling for about $150, while a box logo hoodie that retailed for $168 last year currently resells between $1,100 and $1,700.
Reasor thinks Supreme will eventually have to change its formula.
“I think Supreme has five, six, seven more years left before they become like a high-end designer brand and change their marketing scheme, and start to do drops in department stores or something,” Reasor says. “I think if they do that, they’ll continue to thrive.”
While releases from top streetwear brands get plenty of hype, the buzz — and price — ramps up when designers collaborate with other other brands. Supreme collaborations have produced pieces costing more on the resale market than a new car.
Take designer brand Louis Vuitton’s 2017 collaboration with Supreme, for example. The two came together to release hoodies, T-shirts, backpacks, jackets and even a trunk in what is said to be one of the most talked-about collaborations in history.
The Supreme Louis Vuitton box logo monogram hoodie had a steep retail price tag of about $860, and resale prices on eBay now reach up to $25,000. The box logo T-shirt that retailed for about $450 resells for $3,000 to $5,000, while the lowest asking price on StockX for the Malle Courrier Trunk is $128,999.
The Supreme and North Face collection has also soared to lofty prices. The outdoor company sells jackets that often cost between $75 and $200. Some of the Supreme North Face jackets now sell for around $400, and others go for $2,000 to $4,000.
Drops and streetwear are simultaneously gaining popularity. Satyam Mistry started Beyond Hype, a formerly Fargo-based streetwear company.
Mistry, who now operates out of Nebraska, racked up $130,000 in sales during his first year of business in 2013. He experienced steady growth, even doubling sales from one year to the next in some cases.
Beyond Hype sells established brands like Sprayground, Rastaclat and Champion, and old brand that made a comeback with the rise of streetwear.
“All these brands have kind of reinvented themselves,” Mistry says. “(Champion) is a brand we recently added. Champion has blown up again. They’ve been around for (many) years, and they’ve re-emerged these last five years.”
Mistry said Beyond Hype’s niche is accessories more than apparel, with sunglasses, backpacks and bags among its best-selling items.
He thinks streetwear is here to stay, and he said social media is part of the reason for its popularity.
“The culture keeps changing and social media has a big responsibility expanding that, and it’s so direct and accessible everywhere,” he says.
Streetwear and athletic brands have crossed paths as well. Nike and Supreme have come together to produce sweatshirts and sneakers, and Jordan and Supreme have collaborated on multiple shoes.
Other streetwear brands, including Kith, Comme des Garcons and Off-White, have collaborated with Nike. Maybe the most notable of the streetwear-athletic apparel releases is the 2017 Off-White and Nike “The Ten” collection, which included sneakers from Nike as well as Nike-owned brands Jordan and Converse.
Readers of fashion and sneaker blog Highsnobiety voted Off-White CEO Virgil Abloh as the most influential person of 2017. His Nike Air Jordan 1 “Chicago” design was awarded the best sneaker of 2017 in the blog's annual Highsnobiety Crowns awards. Off-White was also voted the most relevant brand of 2017, and Complex named “The Ten” as the best sneaker collaboration of the year.
“Virgil is a visionary,” Reasor said. “Just the way he speaks and how he articulates himself, and how he brings up his own ideas and the way he processes all his thoughts, is unlike anybody I’ve ever seen … Virgil is just one of those people who was destined for greatness. He’s created an entire revolution in fashion and he’s broken down walls and barriers that nobody else has.”
“'The Ten' was just a revolutionary collaboration,” Reasor says. “It created so much hype around shoes that hasn’t been created in a long time.”
Sports and celebrities
The popularity of streetwear brands among celebrities and professional athletes has only contributed to its growth in recent years
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is a notable and frequent wearer of streetwear. During the 2017-18 season, he broke his ankle and rocked a Louis Vuitton Supreme walking boot during his recovery.
Supreme has also influenced the NBA, much to the disapproval of the league. Last season, Kelly Oubre Jr. of the Washington Wizards wore a Supreme sleeve on his leg and was forced to remove it. Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard J.R. Smith has a permanent bond with the brand, getting at tattoo of the Supreme logo on his right leg during the offseason. He was told by the league that he will be fined for every game that tattoo isn’t covered up.
There are some celebrities who have created their own streetwear brands. Rappers Drake and Kanye West have each branched out and launched their own companies.
Both West and Drake have followed the blueprint of “drops” by hyping up products, then releasing them in limited quantities.
West’s brand, Yeezy, was created in collaboration with Adidas, and “Yeezy Season 1” debuted in 2015. The brand gained significant popularity, and West claims Yeezy is “the second-fastest growing company in history.”
Yeezy, like its popular streetwear counterparts, includes products with high retail prices and even higher resale prices.
For example, one of the first Adidas Yeezy sneakers released, the Yeezy 350 “Turtle Dove," retailed for $200 and currently sells for $1,000 to $3,000.
Drake’s streetwear label, October’s Very Own (OVO), isn’t quite up to par with the numbers Yeezy does, but it is projected to bring in $50 million in sales this year, according to Business of Fashion.
Like West, Drake works with a major athletic company. Air Jordan and OVO came together to release several renditions of Jordan shoes, some of which resell for more than $500 after retailing for about $200.
The rarity of a product is something Reasor likes, but he thinks a couple tweaks could improve the system. He used the Yeezy 700 sneaker as an example.
The original 700, the “Wave Runner,” was a limited drop. His solution is to have that particular colorway remain exclusive, while adding several neutral colorways that are more widely available.
“They should just do a drop where they produce the black, gray and white in crazy amounts, where they have hundreds of thousands of these shoes ready to ship,” Reasor says. “but then they do the limited runs of the original colorway or on variations of that colorway, because I enjoy the exclusivity of it.”
‘It’s an identity’
Reasor’s interest in designer fashion was sparked by his mother. She studied interior design in college and dreamed of doing window displays for designer department stores in New York or on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
Reasor grew up in Eagan, Minn., and lived only a few minutes away from the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. Growing up, he often tagged along with his mom when she went shopping, sparking his intrigue with fashion.
He hopes to someday design his own clothing line.
“I would love to have a successful clothing line in a department store like Nordstrom,” Reasor says. “Something that has some sort of value after you purchase it, that is something that I would love my clothing to be … To me, that’s important to a product, that it still holds somewhat of an initial value after you purchase it.”
Today, some of his favorite brands are Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Tom Ford, Jordan, Polo and Coach. Spending $5,000 on a Louis Vuitton handbag is a good chunk of change, but Reasor sees it as more than a bag.
“That’s a piece of art; it’s not just a handbag,” Reasor said. “That is something that took hours of craftsmanship.”
Another way Reasor gets his hands on designer clothes is thrift shopping, especially in Minneapolis or St. Paul rather than Twin Cities suburbs or even Fargo-Moorhead stores.
“That’s where you’ll find this old designer stuff,” Reasor said.
Whether it’s a $1,000 Burberry coat or a $100 Supreme iPhone case, Reasor loves fashion because it’s a way for him to express who he is. He says if you give five people the same outfit, three of them will probably rock it the same way, while the other two will put their own spin on it.
“It’s an identity,” Reasor says. “To me, just being able to pick and choose anything you want and make anything you want look good is important and what fashion’s all about.”