How much would you pay for a Hanes brand tagless black t-shirt? On Hanes.com they run about five bucks each.
But when the streetwear brand Supreme adds their logo (a tiny red rectangle with the word Supreme in white letters) to the bottom, they can sell a package of three for $95.
Supreme was founded in 1994 in New York by James Jebbia. I would say they catered to the young people in the skateboarding world, but that would not be the correct language. They’re now just called skaters.
See how hip I am? Oh wait. According to the urban dictionary, “Hip is a word that is mostly used by older people in an attempt to be accepted by younger generations.”
Here are some of the items offered for sale on the Supreme website: A white t-shirt with an x-ray of a lung for $400, a water bottle for $150, and a Zippo lighter for $250. If you think I’m making any of this up, check it out for yourself on the link below.
Much of the profit is made in what’s called the secondary market because the brand keeps its product in short supply. A limited number of new items are released throughout the year and they sell out quickly.
Remember the select toys at Christmas that every kid wanted and somehow the companies didn’t prepare for that and parents were left pulling out their hair? But then in January, the stock was resupplied. So the kids got the replacement toy and later the must-have toy.
Besides the question of WHY anyone would pay these ridiculous sums of money for ordinary clothing, I can’t imagine young people (average customer age 18-25) having this kind of money to burn.
The WHY answer from Jonathan Gabay, author of Brand Psychology: Consumer Perceptions, Corporate Reputations, has to do with authenticity. He says that being started in New York by actual skaters makes it authentic, or at least seem to be authentic. Because the original customers who wore the clothing weren’t wearing it because it was trendy since it hadn’t become trendy yet.
Still with me? It’s getting deep, I know.
Gabay goes on to say that authenticity has become highly important. “A brand is an extension of one’s self—psychologically, in terms of how you want the world to see you, or what you want the world to believe you are,” says Gabay. “But deeper than that: what you believe you are, through that brand.”
I’m sorry but I think that is just sad. Seriously. My heart goes out to anyone whose self-worth is based on needing to wear clothing that displays a tiny red rectangle with white letters.
That is anything but authentic.