Read the room, Streetwear.
2020 was the year I fell out of love with Stüssy. Yes, of course, lots of other things happened last year, but this is the sentence I’m opening with in 2021.
Oh, and this one: Streetwear: you’re a rude fuck.
As someone who's watched the culture for over 25 years, I feel like last ten years have seen it dissolve into a greedy state of somewhat nothingness where capitalism is the biggest collaboration there is. The last five, in particular, have done the damage, but it started way before that, exacerbated in to the public realm in 2011 with Tyler wearing a Supreme cap in Yonkers. Before the genius of Tyler and his horror-rap, brands and streetwear used to be a joy. A culture with codes and signifiers that bridged people in the know, in and put codified barriers up to keep others out. It was cult, it was contained, it was a sub-culture and it was cool. And then it exploded.
This is not an essay on that.
Truthfully, there are very few brands whose logo I will still wear [but that's because I'm an advertising wanker]. Anything by Hiroshi is [was, I haven't bought anything for 3 years] one of them [because he's an OG]. The other is Uniqlo, [except there is no branding - ahahahahaha, see what I did there]. And the third brand, the final brand, is Stüssy. Until now.
See, I love Stüssy, I love Shawn, I loved them for a long, long time. I AM OLD. I loved them pre-collaborations, pre-hype and pre-whatever the fuck this ridiculous moment in culture is where things get sold out AS SOON AS THEY’RE ONLINE, before the email’s in your inbox. And truthfully, streetwear - it’s not even impressive anymore, it’s frustrating, it’s rude and it’s crass as hell. As one terribly amusing commentator on Insta said about Kim Kardashian’s crass-ass birthday on the island this year: ‘read the room’.
You see, when the world is going to shit, ostentation isn’t okay.
Because, STÜSSY x Nike x Goretex x No Vacancy Inn x Patta x DSM x so many others it’s just silly - NOW IS NOT THE FUCKING TIME. Hype, you culture-eating collaborators is dead, or at least, it should be. What on earth is polite or okay or even permissible about hype in 2020 and beyond? How can a sports brand [I'm talking to you, Nike] quantify a £2,329.95 jacket? I mean, it's a jacket, mate? In a year when people have lost their jobs, not been able to pay their rent, OH, AND CAUGHT THE PLAGUE - why does a limited-edition, over-priced collaboration seem like a good idea?
Why, in a year when the world was turned upside down and forced to look at itself in the face, have capitalist based collaborations continued? Why, with all the inequality and hypocrisy and belligerence and vanity and self-centeredness in the world, where we are literally killing ourselves with our own behaviour whether that’s through killing off our own planet or continuing to spread a deadly virus, WHY ARE WE STILL SELLING LIMITED AND LAZY COLLABORATIONS?
No, I'm not saying collaborations are dead, I'm saying they have to be meaningful and they have to be mindful. They have to use their power to make a difference, they have to bring voices to the fore that haven't been heard before and they have to give something to the culture other than resell currency. That, that is what I am saying. It's our old adage, they have to use Their Power To Make A Difference.
Why, streetwear - do you think it’s okay to put things out there that are sold out in seconds at a time like this? How is that kind to each other? How is it polite? How, truthfully, does it tap into the time? Yeah, I know it’s not just you, Stüssy, but you’re the only one I’m interested in and frankly, you’re old enough and smart enough and clever enough to know better. Fuck those young-guns that don’t get it, YOU SHOULD GET IT and as a trailblazer that lit the fucking way, light the fucking way now dammit.
Collaborations in their conspicuous consumption form are figuratively telling someone “I spent-money-you-don’t-have-because-you-don’t get paid as much as me,’ and that, that can’t be okay after this year, surely? Look back at this year, think of everything we’ve been through together, everything we learnt about ourselves, our self-education around our own privilege, our promises to do better, our acts of compassion and empathy and everything else besides. Remember how we looked at our behaviour towards each other, the world, the planet? And then tell me; do capitalist-collaborations still seem kind and cool to you? Is throwing up a picture of owning something someone else can't afford kind these days? I mean, has it ever been kind? This currency of 'I'm richer than you' has got to fucking stop.
This is not to say I didn’t want to the Stüssy x Seoul varsity jacket this winter, I did. I’m not going to pretend I didn’t, but it was because I liked the look of it and it had style, not because it was limited edition. One of our kindest of kind 'kids' in New York even said they’d pick one up for me after I’d heart-eyed their photo of it on Insta. But if 2020 has taught us anything - and come on, it has to have taught us a lot - how on earth could I validate wearing a £500+ jacket in public without seeming like a complete c…
READ THE ROOM, STREETWEAR. It’s time to grow up. You have all the power to make a difference, so make it. We’ll talk more about this later, but for now, go to your room and sit there and think about what you’ve done.
And yes, I meant to sound like my mum there.