Fashion Corner: What happened to hype?
Hype. It has been a defining characteristic over the last ten years of fashion but is beginning to die out in a hasty manner. After a rapid rise to the top of the industry, many of the brands that were riding the wave of hype are experiencing an even faster fall. After an era of extreme prices and highly competitive releases, we are experiencing some return to normalcy. The excitement and obsession with limited-edition products and collaborations are becoming less popular with each release. Hype in general is feeling played out.
After a long period of an extreme, it is only human nature to snap back in the other direction and move towards the opposite. This over-exposure of hype is driving consumers away from these products and back toward more standard choices. People have become exhausted of brand names and their manufactured fanfare and are looking for a simpler less flashy fashion. People are now looking to purchase shoes based on aesthetics or comfort, and not because some celebrity put their name on the box. Overall this manipulation of hype and demand has become obvious to the consumer. Limited releases and collaborations now feel inauthentic and that it was just done for the money. Instead of hype being a unique aspect of a product that it earned, now it is a shoddy marketing tactic to add value to products that can’t create it by themselves.
The most glaring example of hype fizzling out is with the once-renowned Supreme. During the mid to late 2010s, Supreme conquered the streetwear industry and brought hype to the mainstream. Their business model of keeping supply low to artificially drive up demand was championed by brands such as Nike, Louis Vuitton, and many more through the use of limited releases or collaborations. However, this domination would be shortlived. In December 2020 VF Corporation purchased the independent brand for $2.1 Billion, this marked the beginning of the end for Supreme. VF Corporation is a multinational apparel conglomerate that owns extremely corporate brands such as Vans, The North Face, and Timberland. While on the surface this seemed like an excellent opportunity for the brand to expand many could see the inevitable demise this would usher in. Supreme fans were quick to turn on the brand labeling the action as ‘selling-out’. This acquisition immediately stripped supreme of its street cred and anti-establishment attitude, basically the only things that ever made it cool. This action made hype feel mainstream and took away the excitement of ‘being in the know’, not only for supreme but across the entire industry.
Looking back joining in the excitement and buying into the hype was definitely entertaining. But once there was a second to step back and look at the state of the industry and these products it was clear that this was unrealistic. The exponential growth at which hype spread across the fashion industry was something brands and consumers were not able to keep up with. And now we are watching it col- lapse in on itself as many brands’ bottom lines shrink and their approach to marketing and product development transitions. Hype was fun, but we all knew it couldn’t last forever.