Is Streetwear more Sustainable than the Rest of Fashion?

Luxury and premium fashion ‘ready to wear’ collections come out twice a year, plus cruise collections, and some houses also have a ‘Haute couture’ line released. Fast fashion – on the other hand – takes inspiration from luxury fashion but releases it six weeks after seeing it on the runway max, and then their turnover for new clothes is as quick as every three weeks. Streetwear brands all have their own unique calendar and don’t operate like conventional fashion brands.

What’s a drop?

For those of you reading this who aren’t streetwear fans, streetwear is insane. You’re not wrong on that one; however, there is significantly less fashion waste, which could be thanks to the drops model that is used.

A drop is when a streetwear brand releases their latest limited-edition collection, at a very specific time in a specific location; usually, the people who have access to these exclusive drops, are people who know how to find them and be at the right place at the right time. So, whilst it sounds like it is appealing to a significantly smaller demographic (which it is), it still works because the streetwear brands have a cult following who will ensure it sells out, as well as the resellers with their bots. There are two key elements that make a streetwear drop exclusive- have a very limited supply, but make the demand outweigh the supply by creating a lot of hype around that drop.   

Take the household brand Supreme, for example: Over nineteen to twenty weeks they will have a drop every Thursday morning at 11am, but only a limited amount is released each week. Every single week it sells out without fail. Supreme’s name carries enough hype, but then they also do a lot of collaborations with other brands, and even artists, which sometimes adds to the hype that helps it sell out. Take the Supreme x RIMOWA suitcase collection, this sold out in a mere sixteen seconds. Once a collection sells out, it is never coming back. So, the only way you can snag it is the resell market.

Shoppers queuing outside the Supreme store in Soho, London (Getty Images)

What about resellers?

People have been buying second hand for years, but in recent years it has blown up thanks to Gen Z pushing buying sustainability more than any generation. Streetwear fans have always had Stock X. This is where streetwear fans who couldn’t get something in the drop, have a second chance to get their hands on it.

However, there’s a catch: once it ends up on the resell market the price can inflate massively. Streetwear resellers are very similar to people on Depop who buy vintage clothes very cheap, at a vintage store or a charity shop, but then sell them for a higher price online.

The more valuable an item is – let’s say a pair of trainers or a hoodie – the more money you can charge. However, streetwear fans are always willing to pay these prices, as they don’t want to miss out on an exclusive moment. So regardless if a streetwear consumer buys something in the drop, or if a reseller buys it, the drop still sells out without fail. The resell market gives you a second chance, it’s just more expensive. There is no stock left for the brands to destroy or to dump in a landfill.

How often have you seen this happen in luxury fashion or fast fashion? Never. Whilst elements of streetwear are beginning to be adopted into mainstream fashion, there will still be an over production issue, as these brands produce the streetwear inspired collection like a regular collection. The point of real streetwear is that there is an extremely limited supply at an affordable price, that is available to a group of exclusive people who know how to buy it .

We’ve seen luxury brands burning their clothes that haven’t sold. We’ve seen the environmental damage fast fashion has caused to the world, as well as human rights abuses that fast fashion contributed towards. Let me ask you, when have you ever seen a streetwear brand contribute to the problem on the same scale as fast and luxury fashion?

Abbie Akbudak

Hi guys! After studying fashion communication at uni, I decided to write about tips and tricks to help you enjoy fashion whilst staying sustainable!

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  1. Absolutely loved it very good

    1. Georgia Shipley

      Thanks! Abbie did such a great job x

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