As we continue to sit tight in lockdown, a time of reflection and re-examination for many, we’re seeing parts of our culture being reprogrammed entirely. Consumers are reassessing their priorities and asking questions – will the same things matter to us as we fall out the other side? Will we want the same products we lusted over pre-lockdown? What will ‘hype’, a non-essential industry, mean in a post-lockdown world?
Here are three ways the idea of hype may change once we collectively re-emerge, squinting in the sunlight:
1. Owners not consumers
We’re in a hype-driven world with too much product, an embarrassment of choice.
As coronavirus puts the brakes on consumption and the slow down coincides with events such as Earth Day, consumers are re-evaluating their choices. This kind of soul-searching has led to hypebeasts (die-hards, by nature) taking ownership over their purchases and reorienting their relationship with consumption.
According to Highsnobiety’s Q1 survey, their readers are taking stock of what they’ve accrued in a lifetime of clout chasing and are aligning themselves with a more intrinsic appreciation of quality, design and craftmanship. A newfound aversion to the shallow and fleeting aspects of hype culture means it’s all about the ability to last.
“I’m a sneaker collector, but my stockpile of 1,000+ shoes feels valueless I think now my attention is going to turn more to products with interesting details and I’ll spend more on real quality,” said one Highsnobiety reader.
According to BoF’s 2020 State of Fashion report, consumers will be looking for so-called “investment” pieces – evergreen, last-forever items, that feel more responsible given the state of the world. In short, timelessness over trendiness.
With status signalling becoming less of a priority and sustainability becoming more attractive, will the hype world follow in the footsteps of luxury fashion? Here, we’re already seeing conscious-led changes within the industry, with separate men’s and women’s fashion calendars being reimagined into two, gender-neutral events a year, and some brands forfeiting pre-collections.
2. The End of Logomania?
Drake found himself at the epicentre of meme culture, again, with the internet ridiculing his Architectural Digest feature. Dubbed ‘The Embassy’, the rapper’s extravagant Toronto residence boasts a singing toilet, Bösendorfer Imperial x Takashi Murakami piano and army of KAWS toys. At any other time, this could have been tagged ‘living one’s best life’ but in the midst of a global pandemic, his marble-lined mansion signalled the peak of bad taste.
Hypebeasts appear to have developed a sudden aversion to the statement markers that once consumed them. Outward validation has taken a backseat to a more self-assured sense of curation.
According to Highsnobiety’s reader poll, logomania and monograms are out in favour of streetwear classics and seasonless staples. Design minimalism ranked highest in terms in terms of its post-pandemic attractiveness.
In the height of lockdown, we’ve seen hype-heavyweights Supreme and Palace continue to drop collections – and look increasingly tone-deaf and out of touch in doing so. Are we ready for these giants to be rotated out for a more considered collaboration partner?
3. Same same, but different.
Is this the end of 4am queues outside Supreme, or will the crowds remain (just with everyone standing two metres apart)? Will we see more distancing between drops? Is hype immunity here to stay? Or have we all just been inside for too long?
For the moment, it seems hypebeasts have taken their obsessions elsewhere – to Nintendo’s Animal Crossing to be precise.
As we all shelter inside, an emergent movement has stemmed from the game’s ability to let you customise just about anything, from your wallpaper to the clothes your characters wear. It’s since become the go-to place for hypebeasts to get their ‘fit pics’.
Several accounts showing off streetwear re-creations have spawned since the lockdown, including @animalcrossfits, which favours high-end streetwear from Human Made and Cactus Plant Flea Market, and for the more avant-garde, @nookstreetmarket, a slavish recreation of hype mecca Dover Street Market.
Contrary to the earlier highlighted logomania poll by Highsnobiety, popular items in the game include hats and facemasks, where logos can be more obvious, given that the heads of the characters are so much bigger than their bodies.
Meanwhile, Epic Games announced its highly-anticipated collaboration with Travis Scott, which sees the rapper become the latest addition to the Icon skin series in Fortnite. Players who purchase the Travis Scott skin can also take part in a number of challenges, each unlocking coveted hype items.
So have we really flattened the hype curve, or are drop obsessives just biding their time online until they return to full hypebeast mode IRL? China has already given us tales of ‘revenge spending’, with people reportedly returning to luxury stores for extravagant sprees as the country’s lockdown eased.
A more conscious approach to collecting is certainly welcomed, but perhaps the world isn’t ready to push the self-destruct button on the hype machine just yet.
SEEN is compiled by LOVE’s Head of Culture, Kat Towers. Want to say hello, ask questions or challenge her cultural knowledge? Get in touch - firstname.lastname@example.org