Misery loves company. But misery can also build companies, branding their depression and solitude on hats, hoodies, t-shirts and even toys-along with some vague social media marketing-to sell out product season after season. If you’re not aware of who these brands are and their melancholic beginnings, here’s a quick rundown of three of the biggest ones right now:
- Anti Social Social Club: Started by former Stüssy employee Neek Lurk, ASSC was born two years ago out of LA and started with a simple black hat embroidered with the logo on the side. What started off as a random project of 12 hats that sold on style forums quickly turned into a whole line of merchandise all influenced from either Lurk’s heartbreak with a Korean girl, living mostly on and through the internet with no real solid support system, and even his inability to express himself emotionally. Two years later, and the man is one of the most talked about streetwear brands out right now. his most recent Spring Summer 17 collection released this past Saturday and was sold out within the hour.
- VLONE: Going a little farther back to 2012, ASAP Bari, co-founder of ASAP Mob, created VLONE with the motto “you live alone, you die alone” as the markup of the brand’s DNA. The name VLONE is basically ALONE but with a flipped A-drives the point home, no? In his explanation, Bari noted that he doesn’t want VLONE to be streetwear or high fashion but be “a class of its own,” celebrating a life of alone-ness that most creatives experience in their life. True, maybe even honorable. Whatever that man is doing clearly works. At $250 a t-shirt that constantly sells out and a recent Nike Air Force 1 collab he released last month, VLONE is making some serious strides in the industry and is only looking to grow in the future.
- KAWS: Pop culture artist and toy maker KAWS is most recognizable by his Mickey Mouse-like figurines titled Companion. One rendition of the toy has the character bending over with his head in his hands, looking almost imprisoned or ashamed, “injecting something human into their bare outlines” of the caricature, says Kaws in a 2016 interview with Art and Seek. This almost too-accurate depiction of humanity was even selected to float above millions of people during the 2012 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, broadcasting the irony of it all for the country to see and experience during one of the most joyful days of the year. Regardless, Kaws is seen as one of the most successful artists of our time with a steady pulse on the culture and a knack at designing what people want now. And his latest project that’s sure to be a quick sell-out? A shoe design collaboration with Air Jordan set to release March 31–impressive.
While almost literally selling the idea of being sad and alone, these brands have skipped waiting till they feel good about themselves to make something productive and instead started creating in their loneliness, forming a community around each of them that too many people around the world either relate to, want to relate to, or simply are just dying to be a part of something, anything really.
Street wear is the representation of everyday people expressing themselves in everyday settings without the veil of “fashion” to dictate how that should look and feel like-yet that’s exactly what these brands have accomplished. Through social media, each designer has leveraged the way they connect with others into creating subcultures surrounding their designs and in turn, make bank selling out of their products drop after drop. With mile-long lines, above average prices, and an exceptionally loyal fanbase, it’s no surprise that what started off as just an expression of one singular idea has now grown into three of the most coveted and sought after names in street wear today.
Want to get your hands on some of their pieces but couldn’t ever get through to the cart during their seasonal online drops? A quick E-Bay search has these brands reselling for double their retail value, creating the already ridiculous demand to grow larger than even the designers themselves were expecting. It’s a world where being alone, confused, distraught, depressed, and every other alienating sense of one’s self has the power to make you look like a cool kid for once, like you belong in a space where you didn’t know you wanted to belong.