How Supreme is making teens thousands every month

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Credit: Mau Lencinas

It’s 9am on a Thursday morning in Soho, London- it’s raining, but outside the Supreme store that’s nothing to be phased by for the teens that have been lining up here for hours already, the same as they do every week.

One guy, Josh, has been here since 5am, and is skipping school to ‘cop’ the latest drop- which includes a branded snow sled retailing for a massive £250, although England shows no promise of snow this year whatsoever.

Josh is dressed head to toe in a blue and red panel tracksuit evidently inspired by the post-Soviet era, created by Russian designer, Gosha Rubchinskiy, and totalling at a price of around £600. It’s also probably now worth noting that Josh is only 16 years old.

Hailing from a rural village in Surrey, Josh travels to London every week in the hope of finding something that not only looks good to his 30,000 Supreme-hungry Instagram followers, but something that he can then resell on apps such as Depop for profit.

“I can easily double my money in a day….I buy a hoodie for £150, I sell it for about £750..people will pay anything when they really want something.

“I’ve been in this about a year and already made enough to send myself to uni when I wanna go.”

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Cred: Flickr

Over the last five years, the street wear scene has developed from being a sub-culture niche for the kids daring enough to wear it, to a symbol of wealth and fashion identity.

Between July 2016 and July 2017, leading brand Supreme grew by 801%, rocketing its value from $2billion to a whopping $21billion- and it comes as no surprise judging by the lengthy queues of teenagers that have camped out to get their hands on the latest rare finds.

Streetwear was originally created in America during the 70s, by disadvantaged kids who couldn’t afford branded clothing. They curated an image that represented recognition and identity, somewhere between informality and sophistication, that turned the concept of streetwear into a form of urban art- much like skateboarding or graffiti.

It began gaining popularity in the late 80s, as East Coast hip hop giants such as Wu-Tang Clan started becoming closely linked with large brands such as Champion and Stüssy.

It’s no surprise that from there, the market has rocketed, and with items released in extremely limited quantities, no one can blame the teenagers with enough spare time and enough spare cash for saving for their futures through reselling.

After speaking to fashion analyst, Hikmat Mohammed, it becomes apparent that the trend started when celebrity icons started wearing the clothes and appearing in campaigns, and that these super rich kids are just trying to find a way to be accepted into ‘normal’ society.

The uprising all stems from “street credibility”-  having these clothes that everyone wants makes these kids feel more accepted. It’s kind of the reverse of kids in the ghetto wearing Hermes belts and Gucci monogram polo shirts. They just wanna look like everyone else.

“Diversity has a massive role in this industry — these private school teenagers are getting exposed to musicians beyond Mozart and Elton John at school, and there is a cultural shift happening that everyone wants to be a part of.”

But while the concept of buying these big name brands just to resell them for four times the price seems unfair for genuine collectors, Mohammed says it’s just part of fashion culture and always has been. “Fashion is never fair.  Fashion always starts with something very small, a collective of people, which is then mainstreamed by private school goers.  You can compare to this cultural appropriation, but in a business-standpoint, these are the people bringing in the money for the company.

My opinion is that we live in such a health conscious environment, and fashion houses are capitalising on this, but at the same time, we are constantly nostalgic — nostalgia sells.”

Fashion experts say the reason for drops being sold in such limited releases is partly due to resellers- if they released things in large quantities the way high street brands do, there’d be no hype or interest in the brand as it wouldn’t feel as though people were spending money on something one-off and unique.

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Cred: LaSkateboarderie

Simon Beckerman, founder of the youth-targeted selling platform Depop, says there are around 400,000 active users on the app every day and with the majority of users being between the ages of 16 and 26, it’s the perfect place for youngsters to market their finds.

But getting your hands on this stuff isn’t always easy. Josh says before he heads to the Soho store, every week he has to go to a different location in East London that gets announced on the day to collect a ticket, that then transcribes to his place in the queue, and if he’s not one of the first 500 people there- well, then he just has to go home. “Even if you’re like 129th [in the queue] it can take you up to five hours to actually get inside…it’s crazy, but, we do what we have to do and if we get something we can sell, or something no one else has, it’s all worth it”

Josh regularly posts photos in his new clothes which has attracted over 30,000 Instagram followers- which he says is the reason he enjoys it so much. “If you’re walking around Soho or you post on Instagram and someone looks at you or says something good about what you’re wearing…that makes you feel good, that’s the buzz.

“There’s also like Facebook groups…Supreme Talk…The Basement…where people show off stuff they’ve bought or big profits they’ve made…it’s a real community”

Physical growth of Supreme has been purposely slow: the brand has only opened two new stores in the past six years. But if Supreme continues to grow at the rate it has, it could become harder to maintain the sense of exclusivity the brand has so far been successful at trading on.

Where once middle-class school kids once spent their parents money on gaming and big-screen TVs, they’re now paying “proxies” big money to queue for them on drop days and buy them £200 pullovers- and it shows no sign of ending anytime soon. Josh has funded his future education ‘flipping’ trainers for the price of a plane ticket to Australia, and if Supreme’s growth over the past 12 months is anything to go by, it would seem they’ve got a fair few years left at the top of the streetwear game.

 

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Why it’s time to get real about your mental health

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*This article originally appeared on ink.loot.io

It’s often described as some of the best years of our lives- but beneath the boozy nights out and takeaway-fuelled all-nighters in the library, university can soon become a really daunting place.

We’re taught that university is a place in which by the end of your first year you will have eaten beans on toast and dry pasta approx 250 times, got with someone from your course and then had to face them the next day, slept in for every 9am lecture and still somehow managed to come out with a 2:1 at the end of the year.

Realistically for some of us, among floors littered with unwashed clothes and curtains that haven’t been opened for days, this isn’t always the case. Statistically, 1 in 4 of us will live with a mental health problem every year, and with student suicide rates at their highest level since 2007, 32% of ambulance call-outs to universities are self-harm or suicide related. According to the National Union of students, 78% of students surveyed in 2015 reported having a mental health problem. That’s a LOT of students cooped up indoors all day.

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Anyone living with a mental health issue of any kind will understand the frustration of not always being able to access the services you need straight away (thanks Theresa May). However, there are plenty of effective self-help techniques you can use to pick yourself up on those shitty days where you find yourself watching 1440 YouTube videos of old Simpsons episodes and scoffing endless tubes of Pringles.

Make lists. Lots of lists. Things you like, your favourite movies to watch, things you need to do- just endless lists. This is something that most therapists suggest (besides the classic “healthy eating and lots of exercise”), and it can actually help with keeping you busy and adding more structure to your day. Even if your list tells you to watch season 4 of F.R.I.E.N.D.S at 2pm and eat a whole pizza to yourself at 5pm, you’re technically still becoming a more organised person- it’s a win/win.

Stay social. Especially with friends you can speak with about your problems casually, even if it’s down the pub. It’ll make everything seem more normal, and having friends you can relate to makes you feel less lonely. If you don’t feel like going out, you can even just ring an old pal for a chat or tag each other in stupid Facebook memes, so at least you’re not staring blankly at the wall for the 50th time that day.

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Most importantly, pace yourself. Don’t feel forced into doing something you know will push you into a bad place. It takes time to recover and be ready to do something you’re not comfortable with, so don’t think that to overcome fear you have to jump into it. For example, if night clubs give you bad vibes, don’t pay £20 entry when you know full well you’re gonna have a bad time (and who on Earth can be arsed with that price?), and more importantly, don’t come out with a stinking hangover for no reason.

Tanya Woolf, Clinical Lead at the Efficacy Cognitive Behavioural Therapy branches, believes a lot of the issues students face today stem from financial worries and the ever-increasing pressure to do well.

She told INK: “Going to university can be a great experience for a person as an opportunity to pursue studies in subjects that they love and maybe want to turn into a career. However, it can also be a source of huge pressure with the combination of continual performance assessment in exams and written assignments, financial worries and comparing ourselves perhaps negatively with other people.”

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“Some of the things we can do to help us manage these pressures include setting realistic goals and schedules. How much work can you really fit into the time available that will be productive?”

“Remember to include activities that give you a sense of achievement (e.g studying) and pleasure (e.g social events, reading for pleasure, exercise or whatever you enjoy). Physical exercise, even just walking, helps us manage our moods, so it’s good to include it in our regular routine. Keep up with social contact and ask for support if you need it.”

Don’t let your grades dictate your life. University is probably going to be your first time away from home, and it’s ok to be nervous about it. Universities have a huge student and staff support network with trained councillors if you need to talk. University is not about worrying. It’s about being care-free, it’s about finding yourself, getting comfortable with becoming a “real adult” for the first time, making friends for life, wasting all of your student loan in the first week then regretting it, and mostly importantly finding your local with the best deal on Jägerbombs.

If you need some support, please check out these websites:

Student Minds

Mind

C.A.L.M (this one is just for guys)