I was at beautiful Bondi Beach last week – an idyllic winter’s day and the place was buzzing (when is it not!). Despite the freezing water, surfers just couldn’t resist the temptation to take on the waves, the restaurants were busy; and it was business as usual. But there was an extra bit of excitement that was a little out of the norm. I spied a crowd lined up down one of the side streets, crowd control, the works. Was there a Kardashian in town?
I also noticed an unusually large number of extra funky individuals carrying bright orange Luis Vuitton shopping bags. And so with closer inspection I worked out what was happening. An LV/Supreme collaboration pop-up store in Bondi and it had the crowds excited, so much so, you’d think they were giving the stuff away.
The crowd lined up outside of LV/Supreme Pop-Up Bondi Beach. Photo: News Corp Australia.
When LV announced the location of the six pop-up shops that would carry the brand’s Autumn/Winter 2017 collaboration with cult streetwear label Supreme; social media immediately went crazy. The following morning, the crowds gathered in huge numbers. In Tokyo 7,500 showed up; in London 2,000 and in Sydney at Bondi where I was, it seems there was a crowd about 1,500 strong – no wonder Bondi was crazier than normal. Within hours, items purchased were being re-sold on line for thousands on sites like ebay and Grailed.
Massive crowds queue at Bondi Beach. Top image: News Corp. Australia. Bottom: pedestrian.tv
So what is the LV/Supreme collab all about, and why is it such a hit?
The LV/Supreme example is just one of many (Tommy Hilfiger recently announced they’ll be teaming up with Vetements; Burberry and Gosha Rubchinskiy etc.) Right now collabs are red hot; and it’s being fuelled by the fact that spending on luxury is shifting towards Millenials and Gen-Z consumers who have the desire and means to purchase luxury items. In fact, it’s believed that by 2025, 45% of the luxury market globally will be accounted for by these groups. This younger demographic see brands like Supreme and other streetwear inspired brands as much cooler than the more traditional luxury brands; hence the spate of collaborations. “Streetwear is completely natural for Gen-Z — it’s the de facto way of dressing for them and therefore a perfect way for a luxury house to get their ‘legacy’ across to young consumers,” says Highsnobiety founder David Fischer.
Louis Vuitton Instagram image.
Orange Louis Vuitton carry bags lit up streets worldwide.
It’s also a reflection of growing demand for innovation and newness – traits our consumer society are ever hungry for. Today’s luxury market is also driven by established consumers who demand new products. According to Luca Solca, head of luxury goods at BNP Exane Paribas: “Just a few years ago, the race to win ‘virgin’ luxury consumers was in full swing, especially in China. But the wave has broken. Today, it is established consumers who are driving demand… This poses a problem for luxury megabrands because established consumers already own all the luxury icons they need — their wardrobes are full of them. Today established consumers expect novelty and innovation if they are to part with their money.”
And what do the streetwear brands gain from the collaborations? According to Fisher: “Streetwear has been copying stuff from luxury fashion since day one, so if anything, it strengthens a streetwear brand’s identity to actually go on and collaborate with a high fashion brand… But for the most part it is the luxury brands that are the ones that need credibility in the streetwear space, not the other way around.”
So back to Bondi, and what were people queuing for up to 8 hours for (in fact, some camped around the CBD for up to 2 days)? $445 bandanas, $1,400 box hoodies, $500 box logo t-shirts. Due to limited stock (and many disgruntled ‘queuers’ being turned away when stock ran out); these items sold for double the price immediately as shoppers exited the store and on-sold their goods to those who missed out.
People showed up with large wads of cash to buy Supreme products both in store and outside from successful buyers. Many missed out. Photo: smh.com.au
A relative bargain when compared with some of the prices later paid on line. Check out these ebay listings:
Items were sold on ebay for many times the price they were purchased for.
Maybe it’s time I quit my day job and went into the business of ‘collab arbitrage’.
Were you able to buy any of the LV/Supreme items? Of course famous celebs had no trouble getting their hands on the items they wanted.
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