what the thirst for kanye's sweater says about the hypebeast
As YEEZY Season 2 launches, Kanye's disciples are raiding the rails at H&M for an affordable version of his signature look.
Brands have long looked towards celebrities to boost sales. Some companies have even based their entire formula on the concept; beauty brand Rimmel made no bones about capitalizing in on Kate Moss' London-centric style with the tagline "Get The London Look." And it works, in all corners of the globe, but the demographic we'd usually associate with such consumer behavior has seemingly shifted.
This week, we've seen those ordinarily governed by the authenticity and heritage of luxury brands have now been co-opted by one of the world's largest retail chains, H&M.
In a shrewd move, the Swedish fashion giant took one of Kanye West's current signature pieces, a well-worn, oversized sweatshirt, and recreated it in bulk for the masses. The result has left hypebeasts and sneakerheads alike clamoring to get their hands on one by any means necessary, with some even offering to trade, using much-loved and lauded Supreme pieces as their currency. The power of celebrity has begun to trump the authority of their beloved brands and everything these consumers stood for.
The sweatshirt in question was designed by Colombia-born, Belgium-educated Haider Ackermann. Made from overwashed and distressed jersey, it's minimal luxury at its finest, and, as a relatively unassuming item of designer clothing, it's not an item that a high street chain would ordinarily rip off. But for H&M the label comes second, overshadowed by the brand of Yeezy. The thought of Haider isn't entering the mind of West's disciples. It's Kanye, who has the cultural capital necessary in order to shift units to the aforementioned hype kids for H&M. He's managed to appropriate the garment as his own style, which has then been absorbed and permeated through his collection for adidas Originals, YEEZY Season 1, and is now being further diluted on the high street.
Celebrities have always had a power of influence acquired through sheer ubiquity, their pervasiveness encourages a cognitive bias which might end up swaying your judgement. You admire their values and talents and buying what they buy, wearing what they wear, gives you a chance to live their lives.
Which is why Kanye West is such a force to be reckoned with, and has made even the most conscious consumers running to their nearest H&M. But the most surprising thing is that Yeezy has managed to make #veryrare kids so desperate to get their hands on a $19.99 mass-produced sweater.
Let's be honest with ourselves. Who hasn't at least once fallen for the allure of a celebrity-approved item during their fashion life? Yes, hypebeasts go one step further and camp out overnight for the latest in-store only box logo drop. They are happy to drop hundreds on a new pair of sneakers - providing that they're tier zero, naturally. And calculate their purchases as investments as they pre-plan reselling strategies before they've even got their hands on the product, but the thrill of the chase isn't beyond anyone when it comes to fashion.
The bizarre conundrum of mass produced clothing is that, despite it being everywhere, ethically dubious, culturally shallow and more attainable than their department store counterparts, when you find a gem amongst the sheer volume the high street holds, that euphoria is real. For recreations of this bliss, see also: car trunk shopping, thrift shop browsing and rummaging through your relatives' old clothes. Same buzz. Throw Kanye into the mix, and you'll really get 'em high.
Text Maude Churchill