By Dylan Dinho
This March, I had the opportunity to attend my first streetwear clothing drop in Manhattan amongst my fellow ‘hypebeasts’. Hypebeasts are individuals that are obsessed with owning expensive, flashy, limited edition variations of clothes, shoes, hats, and other accessories, often for brands that are sought after due to the scarcity of the products themselves ( think Yeezy’s).
Most streetwear brands unveil their new clothing lines much differently than conventional clothing companies. Take for instance the company that essentially created the hypebeast: Supreme.
Supreme is a skateboard and clothing brand that is without a doubt one of the most well-known streetwear brands. They release new products from their seasonal collections once a week on their website & physical stores at 11 a.m. They sell an extremely finite amount of their stock at prices well above what one could pay at commercial outlets such as Journeys or Zumiez. Yet, the reason for their success is exactly why they are so different from those aforementioned stores. They sell a limited stock of clothing and accessories, priding themselves on stocking merchandise that is a cut above what is found on the shelves of conventional stores.
Supreme has 10 physical locations worldwide. While there is an online store, the supply is just as finite as the stores themselves. There is only one other retail establishment that is certified to sell official Supreme merchandise: the Dover Street Market, which is a high-end boutique created by the founder of Comme des Garçons, Rei Kawakubo and her husband, Adrian Joffe.
Every Thursday after the first release of the season at 11 a.m., the doors open. For most of Supreme’s history this meant that there would be people camping outside, sometimes for several days just to get a shirt or a hoodie. This incredible dedication to purchasing a shirt solely for the brand was largely inspired by fans of individuals like Tyler the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt of the rap group Odd Future who often wear the brand. Yet, what truly got people to stand in crazy long lines was the fact that Supreme became an easy way to make money--the reason being that Supreme only has a limited stock of products and they never re-make the same item (save box logo tees and hoodies, which they make every season). So every item is a limited edition, and therefore, if you want it, you need to act and get it before it sells out forever. Consequently, people started purchasing the highly-sought after products, going online to resell these coveted products for at least twice what they paid in store. People were just that desperate (because the demand was/is so high), that they would pay obscene amounts of money for clothes solely because of what the tag says. The resale game has become so prevalent that the higher-ups at Supreme realized something needed to be done. Now, if you want to wait in line to go to the Supreme store or the Dover Street Market on the day of a drop, you need to be a part of an email list that will send you a location that you need to go to at a certain time on a Tuesday. At this location, you will pick up a ticket that gives you a number, which determines your position in line. Even if you’re in the top 20-100 people (the numbers often exceed 100 people), there’s a distinct possibility that some well-established re-seller has already paid off the bouncers, ensuring they get to the front of the line. These individuals are akin to powerful people at a nightclub who can cut the line and have access to information that most are not privy to. They will indubitably purchase all of the most sought after products, not because they want to wear them, but because they are going to try and flip them to make a profit.
So after spending the night in the Upper East Side with a friend, I set my alarm for 9:30 AM and after figuring out which train stop I would be taking to the Dover Street Market, I was en route. Being that I did not have a ticket to Supreme section, I decided to check out the Gosha Rubchinskiy section (a streetwear brand from a Russian designer which has been growing in popularity). I was particularly interested in purchasing something at the store, but thanks to Murphy’s Law, the one thing that truly got my attention was from the Supreme drop. I had already fallen in love with shirt nearly a month prior when they released their Spring/Summer 2017 lookbook. The moment I laid eyes on it, I knew that I would somehow obtain the shirt, although I truly wanted it to be the first thing I had ever purchased at a drop. It was a Golden Kung Fu shirt and nothing else stirred my desire like the thought of dressing like David Carradine in the 1970’s.
Again, since I didn’t have a ticket, I knew if I wanted to get it, my only chance would be having someone proxy-buy it for me. Proxy-buying is having someone ahead of you in line purchase a product that you want to ensure does not sell out. While technically against the rules, proxy-buying goes on as long as both parties are smart and covert. I told a man (who had the most intricate sunglasses I have ever seen) my measurements and that I would pay him an additional sum of cash to purchase the shirt for me. After paying him and walking around the store for about twenty minutes, I waited outside for my plug, who seemed for some time as though he had simply taken my money and ran to arrive with the goods. He burst through the doors and instructed me to help him walk with his bags. We walked about two minutes away and he handed me my item, and also an out-stretched hand asking for more. Luckily, I was prepared for this sort of highway robbery, and had already moved what remained of my cash from my wallet into my jacket so I showed him an empty wallet. Rather than angry he simply shrugged his shoulders, walked away, and began hailing a cab to Lafayette Street.
Attending this drop was a fascinating experience. I met a wide array of people and learned so much about an entire culture of shoppers with a cult-like dedication to a brand solely due to the red rectangle with white typeface. My recommendation is this: If you ever have the resources to be in Manhattan for a Supreme drop and you find great joy in people watching or an appreciation for street fashion (or if you are like me and have a healthy balance of both) definitely give it a try. This experience truly was one of the most unique events I have witnessed and I ended up getting a shirt I liked out of it too. Sometimes you just have to follow the immortal words of Tom Haverford from Parks and Recreation, and ‘treat yo’self’.