Future of hype culture
Future of hype culture
Economies crippled, exports stopped, factories shut and consumer demand crashed. Coronavirus seems to have hit every single aspect of retail, from design to manufacturing. Factories are focusing on making essential items like masks and PPE to support the shortage of these crucial items. Instead of selling T-shirts and hoodies, brands are left with nothing but to contribute to the society while it faces one of the worst pandemics of the modern times.
However, during these unstable times, streetwear brands like Supreme and Palace seem to be dropping new collections every other day. Agreed that these brands have an excess of stock left in their warehouses, but so do most of the world’s biggest brands like GAP and H&M. We don’t see these brands selling their merchandise as ostentatiously as the hype-fuelled brands. During a time of crisis, the consumer starts to focus on essential items that appear to be of priority as well as sensitive of current times. Someone shopping several bags from a Louis Vuitton store may not appear normal, but rather tone-deaf and insensitive to others who face much worse during a crisis. This is why luxury brands take the biggest hit post-crisis. But this time around, these brands have been flourishing. This begs the question – will the hype culture be over after coronavirus?
The answer is, no. Hype culture is driven by consumers. Modern consumers are no longer slaves to need, but to the desire. Needs have taken a backseat and desires have driven hype brands into the popularity that they have witnessed today. Supreme is one of the prime examples. The entire brand runs on collaborations that have never been done by any fashion brand ever. I mean who could ever imagine an Oreo inspired by a streetwear brand? Supreme has dived so deep into the collaboration world that people tend to forget that it is a skatewear brand. Skaters thought of Supreme as a need. For any other person, owning a Supreme T-shirt is a desire.
This desire model works for hype brands due to its fickle marketing strategy. As our modern worlds have increasingly been fuelled by marketing strategies, consumers have developed a tendency to buy these brands not out of their need but to show it to the society. Flaunting the latest Prada boots or wearing the Fenty makeup, social media has given people platforms for expressing themselves while also creating a hot mess of consumerism.
Coming back to the crisis times, many brands report that once the situation settles down, the retail rebound will bring back the lost business. A consumer explosion is expected after times of long waits and unpredictable demands. However, the probability of that happening is a 50/50 chance. People may immediately start ‘revenge-buying’ and regain the confidence which currently seems nowhere to be found. Another side predicts a revolution that will impart a sense of responsibility that will influence people to consciously control expenses and purchases. The former possibility will drive the society towards a consumeristic future while the other into a sensible one.
Hype culture is a result of exaggerated consumerism and while a lack of influencers rocking the coolest accessories and hottest brands may seem to be absent during the months of lockdown, the hype culture is here to stay. Be it in the form of responsible buying or reckless spending, hype culture will drive people into influencing what they have in their hands before they leave a store. A wallet full of cash or a hand full of bags is the question.