Links of the day | 在网上找到

R3 Admits Defeat, Stops Blockchain Development – The Merkle

The Long Nose of Innovation – Bloomberg

WaiGuoRen – Chinese meme going around

Chip Equipment Billings Hold Steady | EE Times – positive forward signalling for the technology sector economic outlook

Have we reached peak streetwear?

At the end of January I wrote a blog post about the landmark collection by Louis Vuitton and Supreme.

I delved into the history of streetwear and the deep connection it shared with luxury brands. This linkage came from counterfeit products, brand and design language appropriation.

This all came from a place of individuality and self expression of the wearer.

obey

I reposted it from my blog on to LinkedIn. I got a comment from a friend of mine which percolated some of the ideas I’d been thinking about. The comment crystalised some of my fears as a long-time streetwear aficionado.

This is from Andy Jephson who works as a director for consumer brand agency Exposure:

The roots of street and lux that you point to seem to be all about individuality and self expression and for me this is what many modern collabs are missing. To me they seem to be about ostentatious showmanship. I love a collaboration that sees partners sharing their expertise and craft to create something original. The current obsession with creating hype however is creating a badging culture that produces products that could have been made in one of the knock-off factories that you mention. Some collabs that just produce new colourways and hybrid styles can be amazing, reflecting the interests of their audience. But far too many seem gratuitous and are completely unobtainable for the brand fans on one side of the collaborative partnership.

The streetwear business is mad money

From Stüssy in 1980, streetwear has grown into a multi-billion dollar global industry. Streetwear sales are worth more than 75 billion dollars per year.

By comparison the UK government spent about 44.1 billion on defence in 2016. Streetwear sales are more than three times the estimated market value of Snap Inc. Snap Inc., is the owner of Snapchat.

Rise of Streetwear

It is still about one third the size of the luxury industry. Streetwear accounts for the majority of menswear stocked in luxury department stores. Harvey Nichols claimed that 63% of the their contemporary menswear was streetwear. Many luxury brands off-the-peg men’s items blur the boundary between luxe and streetwear.

The industry has spawned some technology start-ups acting as niche secondary markets including:

  • Kixify
  • K’LEKT
  • THRONE
  • StockX
  • SneakerDon
  • GOAT

Large parts of the streetwear industry has become lazy and mercenary. You can see this in:

  • The attention to detail and quality of product isn’t what it used to be. I have vintage Stüssy pieces that are very well-made. I can’t say the same of many newer streetwear brands
  • Colour-ways just for the sake of it. I think Nike’s Jordan brand is a key offender. Because it has continually expands numbers of derivative designs and combinations. New Balance* have lost much of their mojo. Especially when you look at the product their Super Team 33 in Maine came up with over the years. The fish, fanzine or the element packs were both strong creative offerings. By comparison recent collections felt weak
  • The trivial nature of some of the collaborations. This week Supreme sold branded Metro Cards for the New York subway
  • Streetwear brands that sold out to fast moving consumer products. This diluted their own brand values. While working in Hong Kong, I did a Neighborhood Coke Zero collaboration. The idea which had some tie-in to local cycling culture and nightscape. Aape – the second-brand of BAPE did a deal wrapping Pepsi cans in the iconic camouflage

Hong Kong brand Chocoolate did three questionable collaborations over the past 18 months:

  • Vitaminwater
  • Nissin (instant noodles)
  • Dreyer’s (ice cream)

By comparison, Stüssy has a reputation in the industry for careful business management. The idea was to never become too big, too fast. The Sinatra family kept up quality and selective distribution seeing off Mossimo, FUBU and Triple Five Soul. Yes, they’ve done collaborations, but they were canny compared to newer brands:

“The business has grown in a crazy way the past couple of years,” says Sinatra. “We reluctantly did over $50 million last year.”

Reluctant because, according to Sinatra, the company is currently trying to cut back and stay small. “It was probably one of our biggest years ever — and it was an accident.”

Sinatra characterises Stüssy’s third act as having a “brand-first, revenue second” philosophy, in order to avoid becoming “this big monstrosity that doesn’t stand for anything.”

The Evolution of Streetwear. The newfound reality of Streetwear and its luxury-like management academic study uncovered careful brand custodianship.

It’s not clothing; it’s an asset class

Part of the bubble feel within the streetwear industry is due to customer behaviour. For many people, street wear is no longer a wardrobe staple. Instead it becomes an alternative investment instrument. Supreme items and tier zero Nike releases are resold for profit like a day trader on the stock market.

Many of the start-ups supported by the community play to this ‘day trader’ archetype. It is only a matter of time for the likes of Bonham’s and Sotherby’s get in on the act.

A key problem with the market is that trainers aren’t like a Swiss watch or a classic car. They become unusable in less than a decade as the soles degrade and adhesive breaks down.

There is the apocryphal story of a Wall Street stock broker getting out before the great stock market crash. The indicator to pull his money out was a taxi driver or a shoe shine boy giving stock tips.

Streetwear is at a similar stage with school-age teenagers dealing must-have items as a business. What would a reset look like in the streetwear industry? What would be the knock-on effect for the luxury sector?

More information
USA Streetwear Market Research Report 2015 | WeConnectFashion
Louis Vuitton, Supreme and the tangled relationship between streetwear and luxury brands | renaissance chambara
New Balance Super Team 33 – Elements Collection | High Snobriety
New Balance ST33 – The Fanzine Collection | High Snobriety
1400 Super Team 33 (ST33) trio | New Balance blog – the infamous fish pack
How Stüssy Became a $50 Million Global Streetwear Brand Without Selling Out | BoF (Business of Fashion)
The Evolution of Streetwear. The newfound reality of Streetwear and its luxury-like management by de Macedo & Machado, Universidade Católica Portuguesa (2015) – PDF

* in the interest of full disclosure, New Balance is a former client.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Smart Waggle Boosts IoT | EE Times – interesting move towards a thicker client on IoT for cloud

Ask uncomfortable questions: UBS and boundary-pushing content marketing | Campaign – odd partnership with Vice Media

Apple Severed Ties with Server Supplier After Security Concern — The Information – I imagine that this is what being a target of the NSA’s tailored access programme would look like. There are a number of other state actors with similar capabilities. SuperMicro is interesting because it assembles servers outside China – instead it has factories in San Jose, The Netherlands and Taiwan

Uber’s work environment sounds even worse than we thought – Business Insider – who said beer bong bro?

How Trump’s Bullying of Mexico Could Backfire | The New Republic – could Mexico follow the Asian model of economic development?

Nuts and Bolts of Encryption: A Primer for Policymakers by Edward W Felten (Princeton University) – great 101 guide (PDF)

Developers | Uber – interesting stuff on augmenting a passengers journey as marketing opportunity via the API

NVIDIA’s GTX 1080: The Tip Of The Iceberg? – OneRiver Media Blog – Apple need to sort their Pro range out

Japan’s wild, creative Harajuku street style is dead. Long live Uniqlo | Quartz – think Camden market before the energy got sucked out of it

Closer look: Assassination Report Has China Talking About Ageism – Caixin Global – interesting commentary on Huawei

The $143bn flop: How Warren Buffett and 3G lost Unilever | FTBack in London on Saturday, as [Unilever CEO] Mr Polman tapped into his network of contacts, he was informed that Finsbury was working with Kraft Heinz on PR. Within seconds, Mr Polman blasted off an email to Sir Martin Sorrell, the founder and chief executive of WPP, the advertising company that counts Unilever as one of its most important clients.
Finsbury, which is majority owned by WPP, was removed from the Kraft Heinz side by the end of the day. – guessing Kraft Heinz isn’t worth that much for WPP, also think that you can take Colgate Palmolive off the table as well since they are a big WPP customer

Hurun: China’s Super-Rich Name Apple, Bulgari As Top Brands for Gifting | Jing Daily – interesting rise of Alipay rather than UnionPay

Snap’s IPO Draws Barclays CEO, But London Investors Remain Wary – Bloomberg – slowing user growth an issue

Oppo knocks: Beating Apple, Xiaomi and the gang in China | The Economist – BBK the parent of Oppo and Vivo was a successful feature phone maker with good channels and manufacturing smarts – Huawei should be afraid

Wanda’s Dick Clark deal shaky, but not yet dead: sources | Reuters – restrictions on currency movement

What Does Trump Want? China Scours Twitter, Cocktail Parties for Clues – Bloomberg – they may decide just to wait Trump out

Let’s not kid ourselves: sexual harassment is rampant in Silicon Valley | The Outline – bro culture and brewskis by nerds

Ask a Korean!: Presidential Election and Spy Agency – Interesting article on fake news in Korea

Don’t Look Now, but the Great Unbundling Has Spun Into Reverse – NYTimes.com – bundling started to be used by online business for the same reasons as offline

My Friend Cayla doll banned in Germany over surveillance concerns – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) – So are pretty much most other connected systems such as Google Now, Siri and Alexa powered devices – just not quite as hackable

Facebook Messenger Now Lets Brands Send Unprompted Messages Within 24 Hours Of Conversation | IPG Media Labs

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

I was laid low for a few days this week, during this time I slept and connected with the world only by listening to the Today programme. I also got caught in a deluge during storm Doris and was drenched. As I write this post, my Facebook feed is filling up with posts about Donald Trump restricting media outlets including CNN and the BBC from Whitehouse briefings. These are five of the things that made my week:

This week I was listening to: [Free Download] London Collective, eatmybeat, Drop a Tasty 21 Track Compilation  ‘Bonus Snacks Vol. 2’ Perfect for DJs | Magnetic

I was upgraded Bose QC25 headphones I use at work with a new audio cable. The Ablet Lightning Audio Adapter for Iphone 7 / 7 Plus is a great replacement cable, microphone and remote that makes doing calls an awful lot easier. Once the call is over, I just unplug and jack in with the original cable that stays in my iPod

Instagram announced a carousel function that shows up to 10 photos and videos in the one frame. The first one I saw in the wild was to promote the new Blade Runner film due this year

Kelly Moss Motorsport built a ‘safari ready’ Porsche 911 that evoked the old Rothmans Porsche rally cars of the 1980s, check out their series of pictures here.

Rothmans 176 Porsche

The grey colour reminds me of post-war vintage tractors from the likes of Nuffield. Porsche made some beautiful looking tractors in the 1950s – a useless fact that I picked up as a child spending much of my time on the family farm in Ireland and having a Dad who used to repair heavy agricultural and construction plant early on in his career

Porsche Tractor

Collecting Europe – really interesting game that investigates consumers attitudes to boundaries and identity

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Global Restructuring at TBWAMedia Arts Lab as Apple Shifts Toward Digital, Regional Work | Ad Week – interesting move with their evolving relationship with Apple. I can’t say that I feel impressed by anything l’ve seen out of Apple in a while – given more creative was driven out of in-house. This move will see things going more digital, rather than just digital expressions of TV-orientated creative

Exclusive: SoftBank willing to cede control of Sprint to entice T-Mobile – sources | Reuters – guess India’s no longer as big a focus since Nikesh Arora’s big bets lost them 350 million dollars?

Once poverty-stricken, China’s “Taobao villages” have found a lifeline making trinkets for the internet — Quartz

UK Snoopers’ Charter gagging order drafted for London Internet Exchange directors • The Register – you combine this with the new espionage act going through the UK government system and things look exceptionally dark

Video formats by position | Facebook Marketing Partners – (PDF)

The Facts-Based Survey of Mobile Money Globally Focusing on the Reality and Numbers – Ignores totally the utterly trivial noise of Apple Pay, Bitcoins and Paypal

Building Global Community | Facebook – Zuck on reshaping Facebook’s direction