Is It Really Worth the HYPE? What Gen Zs Are Talking About

Nicole Tan

Brand Strategy Team, Singapore

Trends come and go, but there is one that is here to stay.

A growing trend in streetwear classified as “hype”, or often known to Generation Z as “hypebeast”, is revolutionizing the fashion industry. From the runway to the checkout counter, #hype or #hypebeast is used to describe how a person dresses with the latest exclusive streetwear trends. #HYPEBEAST has garnered 2.65 million social conversations over the past 6 months worldwide.

Conversation trend about "hypebeast" over the past 6 months.

Streetwear brands such as Supreme and Off White are popular among Gen Zs. To them, these brands possess a certain uniqueness that set them apart from other streetwear brands, which older Gen X or Gen Ys prefer. As the “hype” trend continues to grow, there are valuable takeaways for budding brands to learn from these established players within the industry.

A New Cultural Representation Through Brand Identity

Gen Z consumers are growing more brand-conscious, but they are also relatively price insensitive. Hence, it is important for a brand to cultivate a brand culture and build an identity that the Gen Z consumers can associate with. Off-White and Supreme, for example, don’t see themselves as brands that simply sell clothes, but rather as leaders in a new cultural movement most avidly embodied in Gen Zs. 

Off-White Products that showcase their signature inverted commas design. It is often stating the product name or the purpose of the product, reflecting the explicit to the consumers that show the non-conformity and different.

Off-White, for example, carries the idea that their clothing is part of an art movement. Known for their insignia with signature thick lines and words in inverted commas, the brand uses consistent design to build a distinct brand identity. Furthermore, the brand emanates a rebellious persona, a trait that identifies with the defiant Gen Zs who are in their adolescent years. The brand’s identity is also reflected through their choice of brand ambassadors- Kanye West, the American rapper known for his rebellious and non-confirmative attitude towards society, serves as a perfect example. As more Gen Zs resonate with brands like Off-White, they become a part of a subculture that is expressive and confident.

The attractiveness of streetwear brands is further increased when celebrities and influencers are seen in their products. Endorsements work well because GenZs want to become the similar subjects of attention. It increases their desire to be deemed as “cool” and to be part of the “in-crowd” and tends to their strong desire to attain social validation from the brands they wear.

Brand Collaborations That Spark Novelty and Excitement Amongst Consumers

More streetwear brands are collaborating with other brands to elevate their offerings and to generate hype. Unexpected collaborations create a sense of novelty and generates intrigue from the consumers. Gen Z masses are especially receptive towards unexpected brand collaborations that reveal new designs and aesthetically pleasing offerings. 

A product from Louis Vuitton x Supreme Collection; What Consumers Are Saying About the Collection

One such collaboration is Louis Vuitton x Supreme, which received rave reviews at the time its launch.To the average consumer, the two brands seem dissimilar in product focus and style. This unlikely coupling subverted expectations and took many streetwear consumers by surprise. They were able to leverage on the ‘randomness’ of the joint collection to spark intrigue in Gen Zs. As a result, the collaboration succeeded to increase both of the brand’s popularity and enabled them to tap into each other’s usual consumer base. 

Limited Edition Collection That Catalyzes Demand Through Scarcity

Understanding Gen Z’s identification with sub-tribe culture and attitude against the mainstream, brands are leveraging scarcity as one of their main tactics to sell the hype. Limited edition products create the opportunity for Gen Z consumers to be one step ahead and stand out amongst friends. It increases the outward validation and inward satisfaction a Gen Z consumer would experience when they are the only person in their social circle to have a rare item. Moreover, it makes them believe that the item was created exclusively for them, allowing streetwear brands to indulge the consumer in a “personalized experience”.

The usual queue when Supreme “drops” a new collection; A Supreme theme room with rare collectibles.

Based in New York City, Supreme is another streetwear brand that established global presence by understanding the psychology of their consumers. Supreme sells a variety of products including clothing, skateboards, hammers, concrete bricks and fire extinguishers, but in limited quantity. Their products are notoriously known for being sold out very quickly, luring consumers, regardless of whether they wanted it in the first place, to build a collection of rare Supreme items as a way of attaining satisfaction. Some savvy consumers resell these items at a premium, but more often than not, most consumers purchase these scarce items as a signal that they are different. The opportunity to don a brand that not only speaks luxury but is ‘cool' and 'in-trend' taps into the innate nature of not only Gen Zs, but to all consumers.

All For The Name of #Aesthetics, #Hype and #Youthculture

Gen Zs are buying from streetwear brands as a form of social investment. It is a form of status and social signalling. Usual factors that affect purchase decisions, such as price and quality, as well as necessity, fall to the wayside. By looking at the 4 Facets of Brand Positioning, streetwear brands drive a commonality in their vision- to revolutionize a culture that is characterized by confidence and attitude. More than just another fashion label, these brands are giving Gen Zs a voice and a sense of belonging within their community.

Find out more about how to position your brand for your target audience with Labbrand today. 

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