Over the past few years, society has seen a significant rise in a newly branded demographic called “hypebeasts.”
A hypebeast is someone, usually a teen or young adult, who is continually jumping on the bandwagon of the latest trends in fashion. Whether it be a newly introduced Nike FC jacket or Adidas Yeezy shoe, a hypebeast will spend or do whatever it takes to get their hands on the latest trendsetting item at the moment.
One of the more popular brands among hypebeasts is the New York based streetwear brand, Supreme. Supreme is famous for its collaborations with celebrities and for its limited releases, as you can only purchase from the brand at one of its few locations or its online flash sales.
Due to the lack of Supreme gear in circulation, much of its supply demands a huge price tag from resellers. The lack of Supreme inventory in the market has also led to hypebeasts resorting to violence to obtain these desired products. Recent acts of violence at the site of Supreme releases are starting to garner media attention.
While hypebeasts include many responsible, trendsetting young adults, the violence used by some hypebeasts at recent flash sales causes concern over the implications that a self-imposed shortage in product supply may have on brand conscious consumers.
Supreme, along with other popular streetwear brands like Stone Island and Palace, are guilty of creating an artificial shortage of its products. As a result, they build up a reputation of being a highly-exclusive luxury brand, while creating increased demand among hypebeasts who want to get their hands on the trendiest gear.
The demand is not met, which leads to higher prices for its products. The current methods of distribution for Supreme gear, which are on-site and online flash sales (first come, first served) and the reseller market, further exacerbates the hype for its products. In turn, some resellers resort to unprincipled measures, including violence, to get their hands on the valuable merchandise.
Those with the most free time on weekdays (lowest opportunity cost), will have a better chance of purchasing from Supreme and henceforth dominate the flash sale distribution methods as they’re willing to stand in line for excessive lengths of time, sometimes exceeding 24 hours.
This group includes many resellers trying to earn income off this market trend. Resellers will purchase Supreme gear and proceed to resell it on sites like eBay at prices highly inflated in comparison to retail prices. This is the most popular method of purchasing from Supreme. The reseller market has grown in popularity such that there are now websites, like stockx.com, that will give you an estimated price range for goods currently flowing through the reseller market. Resellers not only dominate the on-site sales of Supreme gear, but also dominate the online methods of distribution.
When Supreme holds one of its online flash sales, its gear will sell out in a matter of minutes. Resellers, along with hypebeasts, have managed to code “bots,” a computer program that holds all of your personal and credit card information, and can purchase any online good within seconds. Once the Supreme gear is up for sale online, the resellers, through the use of bots, will purchase the products in bulk in a matter of seconds.
This arbitrage of the system has caused an uproar in the fashion community, and because of this consumers flock to the on-site flash sales where there have been numerous recent reports of violence at Supreme stores on product drop dates, when Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall collections are released. Just this past February at the Supreme Spring 2016 release, while walking out of the store, a man was slashed in the face by an assailant, wearing a ski mask, intent on getting his hands on newly released Supreme products.
The shortage in supply of many streetwear brands has caused a frenzy among hypebeasts trying to ensure they own the latest fashionable items. Supreme, along with other streetwear brands, should do more to curtail violence surrounding product launches.
Just last year, an estimated 1,200 lives were lost at on-site releases. Some people have taken legal action against brands, like Air Jordan, in search of compensation for family members who were slain at these high-tension releases. If any change is to be initiated, there needs to be a widespread consumer revolution.
Brands in high-demand like Supreme need to shift from current methods of distribution, and sell exclusively online. In this scenario, these brands would also have to tighten up its website security in order to prevent bots from buying up all of its stock.
Then again, this could all be avoided should these high-demand brands decide to put more of its supply into circulation. Supreme, for example, could mirror the current methods of distribution Nike has adopted.
In this scenario, supply would increase while also increasing price. This would also almost entirely eliminate the reseller market for Supreme branded goods as the increased retail pricing would not allow for reseller profits, as the market resale price would approach the WTP (willingness to pay) of the buyers. Sellouts would be avoided, thus eliminating the whole purpose of the reseller market in the first place. Finding the sweet spot for supply and demand should be the goal for these high-demand branded products, so that its customers can purchase the product first hand and without having to resort to sometimes costly or contested measures.