ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

Upgrade to 5G Costs $200 Billion a Year, May Not Be Worth It | Advertising Age – this will be interesting. 3G mobile networks were in a similar position at launch. Three didn’t manage to build a business selling football clips…

Why Is There No Freighter Equivalent of the Airbus A380? – this is explains why Airbus made non-cargo optimised design decisions (like a cockpit on the lower flight deck so you can’t fit a cargo door in the nose)

Jaron Lanier interview on Silicon Valley culture, #MeToo backlash, AI, and the future – Business Insider

Hiroshi Fujiwara Explains Why Fragment Sneakers Are So Hard to Get | GQ  – There’s many shoes out there. I want everyone to have it who wants to have it. But it’s hard because so many people buy them just to make money. And I don’t like that. And sometimes it’s good to work hard to get a sneaker, because otherwise you won’t buy it – Fujiwara-san on point as ever

China unveils satellite network plan for round-the-clock lock on South China Sea | South China Morning Post

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

WSJ City | Gig work may stifle some startups – a gig firm’s entry into a given area caused a decline in the number of unfunded and underfunded Kickstarter campaigns launched locally a year later

Ctrip launches global rebrand to Trip.com – interesting staking out global ambitions against Agoda, Booking.com and Expedia

Google Translate: Telefonini e patenti | L’Espresso – Umberto Eco making the valid point that communications by phone are often less circumspect because of the immediacy of the medium. Writing a letter allows more time for consideration and weight in the communications

Red Bull Content Pool – interesting that Red Bull has its own inhouse picture agency

Vote Leave donations: the dark ads, the mystery ‘letter’ – and Brexit’s online guru | Politics | The Guardian – The Guardian have the bit between their teeth on this and other media aren’t picking it up at all. How to Use Facebook Dark Posts | Duct Tape Marketing – nice simple explanation of dark ads for non marketers out there – far more elegant than when I have explained it. Despite the name it isn’t sinister

PR Research: The death of Twitter as a marketing tool? Recent research says half of marketers don’t see the point of Twitter any more | PRmoment – probably not the most scientific pieces of research, I think the answer is more nuanced

Understanding “New Power” | Harvard Business Review – interesting read, if you haven’t had the chance already

Is The Streetwear Market Headed For The Mainstream? : NPR  – interesting piece on streetwear by NPR. It echoes some of the concerns I had about the streetwear market. If you want to know how it all got so big: Louis Vuitton, Supreme and the tangled relationship between streetwear and luxury brands

JR Tokai gives media a peek at maglev work underway at Shinagawa Station | The Japan Times – so cool

Chadlington: ban all ads and promotion for gambling | PR Week – (paywall)

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week:

KFC China launched a virgin mojito drink with a 1960s feel to the ad. Its a bit of an odd product for KFC, even in China particularly with its positioning against drinking. Quite how the product development process and consumer insight worked to produce it is beyond me. Beautifully produced advert

Great documentary on Sterns Music (of Sterns Edits fame)

High Snobriety have done their first documentary. It looks like the kind of thing I would expect from Vice. Given High Snobriety’s streetwear literate audience I was surprised at how ‘basic’ it approaches the topic. Korean’s historic fashion industry, its association with replicas since the days of Daper Dan and the retail infrastructure stifled by chaebols are issues. But streetwear couldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for the Korean textile industry – Daper Dan connection. The market in Korea reminded me very much of the ‘snide’ garments that were popular in the UK scene through the 1980s and 1990s.

On a secondary note the size of the YouTube video embed was restricted to 560 pixels wide. Not sure why

William Gibson: ‘I Never Expected to Be Living in an American Retro-Future’ – Motherboard – William Gibson critiquing Trump administration era America

Cities and Memory: global collaborative sound project – Cities & Memory | Field Recordings, Sound Map, Sound Art really nice project correlating field recordings by location

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week:

It’s quite rare for someone who has had as as long a career as Mick Jagger to still do relevant material. His double A side single featuring England’s Lost is an exceptionally political track featuring Skepta. The last track from similar artist would likely be Pink Floyd’s The Wall. It wouldn’t sound out of step with The Stone Roses or The Charlatans and the video with Luke Evans performance is amazing.

Omega seem to have spent most of the summer dwelling on the NASA Apollo programme heritage of the Omega Speedmaster with launches happening around the world including PR people in faux spacesuits for photo shoots and socialite cocktail parties.  The excuse is the 60th anniversary of the Omega Speedmaster’s launch in 1957. They’ve supported it with a scripted film using brand spokesperson George Clooney talking with Buzz Aldrin. Aldrin as ever is awesome.

60 years of production makes the Speedmaster a design classic. At the time of the Speedmaster’s launch Omega would have been a more bankable name than Rolex. That seems surprising now given Omega’s move more towards the fashion end of the market. There is a great interview at The Peak Magazine; with Peter Chow the recently retired veteran salesman at The Hour Glass in Singapore. The Hour Glass is a famous watch retailer that has attracted the world’s richest customers.

“You could buy a manual mechanical watch with a fine Swiss movement for S$20 plus,” Mr Chong says. The well-known brands then were Titoni, Titus, Movado and Cyma. “Omega was the best, not Rolex.” Mr Chong quit his job in 1959 and with S$6000 from savings and loans, opened a shop in Bukit Panjang. But within three years, poor sales drove him out of business.

It was something I heard from my parents, though I had partly put this down to both of them having had Omegas – which they bought for each other when they got married.

Northampton’s most famous son, author Alan Moore Interviewed by Greg Wilson and Kermit – real name Paul Leveridge from the Ruthless Rap Assassins and Black Grape. Interesting dissection of modern counterculture and the general sense of ennui.

I am addicted to videos about mesmerising manufacturing processes and vinyl records. This video combines both of them. The hipster movement has done more than drive up the cost of avocados and gentrification. We’ve seen vinyl manufacturing plants revived and thrive. Over time the machinery has needed to be modernised, this has meant modern manufacturing techniques (like SCADA controllers) have been melted to post-war industrial technology. Anyway enough of my blathering check it out.

My week was soundtracked by this epic mix of Herbie Hancock tracks.

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.


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
  • 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.