In case you missed it, last week Supreme caused literal riots in subway stations across NYC when they released limited edition Metrocards. A regular subway card is $2.50, but people were selling these cards for $450 and above. The even crazier part is that people were buying them at the inflated price. Supreme threw their name on a Metrocard and now the Metrocard is the new dope accessory to have in New York City.
But if you ask anyone over 45, they probably couldn't tell you what the fuss is all about. It’s amazing how much millennials influence fashion, particularly mens fashion. Aside from the MTA, Supreme has revealed another controversial collaboration, this time with luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton.
A friend who is a branding manager offered his opinion on the topic, “I personally think its dope! Like, I can’t wait until other collaborations like this happen with other fashion houses like Chanel. I would love to see Chanel for Adidas!”
Within the last couple of years, there have been many designers who decided to collaborate with a mass market retailer. The most common ones are the partnerships with H&M (Versace, Alexander Wang, Balmain, etc.) and GAP (John Elliot, En Noir, etc.). And in my opinion, this was just a smart move to hit a larger customer base by selling "designer clothing" at a much lower price point.
People will argue that Supreme is nowhere near a mass market retailer. In fact, they only release their clothes in limited quanities and are known for selling out of product within minutes. But it is undeniable how accessible their prices are, even if their merchandise is not.
As the streetwear trend emerges, it has also merged with established designers, even using Black celebrities to promote collaborations, giving them "street cred," if you will. Some of my sneakerhead friends would say that the millennials influence on high-end designers started with Raf Simmons. Raf Simmons, known for his forward thinking menswear, partnered with Adidas to design limited edition mens sneakers a couple of years ago. The initial collection included only five versions in three different colorways based on Adidas high-end performance with a flare of the luxury powerhouse designer.
Since then, there have been others. Alexander Wang just released his second collection with Adidas. Gucci, once Alessandro Michele completed his brand overhaul to attract the younger generation, experienced a major sales growth.
Endorsements from Chance the Rapper, Lewis Hamilton and other "cool" guys who have been heavily rocking Champion gear have increased the value of the athletic brand. And while this is excellent news for Champion, the way that things go, it is not so good for people like me who will go from paying $19.99 for a sweatshirt to $120 dollars or higher now.
Similarly, Kanye West saw an opportunity like this and ran with it. His now defunct partnership with Nike fell by the wayside when an Adidas deal was offered. Yeezy went from just sneakers to some of the most coveted and influential styles of clothing of the past two years.
I know male stylists who are very interested in the collabs and get excited when brands look at things from different perspectives. Stylists know how is it is to call designers for different male celebrities and be told “NO” and that certain luxury brands will not dress their young male clients because of a "brand integrity" they are trying to uphold. With the shift and emphasis on streetwear though, it is apparent who the luxury brands are wanting their clothes on now.
With fashion, access is always important and having the option to mix, match or merge brands allows contemporary men to be more fashionably conversive. For example, males particularly are now inspired by how a person can mix a Thom Browne suit with Chuck Taylors — dirty Chucks at that! That's what the most forward-facing men are doing and, therefore, that's what the general public will eventually begin to do as well.
Another popular opinion about these mergers is that it all boils down to “What is now? This is NOW!” Just think about and take the noun out, which is “fashion,” and replace it with anything else, like music. Industries are evolving at a rapid pace. Fashion is just trying to keep up. So these mergers are realties that maybe forced decisions for designers. These collaborations lend way to people being able to afford a nice croc jacket at a much more affordable price point. With outlets like social media, things come and go and things change so rapidly with taste and preferences.
I love how streetwear is becoming more stylish and appropriate for wear on and off the streets. With the help of these luxury fashion designers — watch my word — it will be acceptable to wear denim, workout sweats and sneakers to walk down the aisle in. Who cares about a Dior suit? I am wearing track pants and a hoody and Karl Lagerfeld and Diddy said it was cool and A-OK.
(Photo: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows)