Leo Mandella, a 14-year-old boy from Warwickshire, England gained over 74,000 Instagram followers in a year off the back of just a few posts of him modelling clothes. It turns out he’d spent around £10,000 on the latest fashion phenomenon: streetwear.
But what is streetwear? It’s a type of fashion, which started out back in the late 1970s. Its unique look originally came from what surfers and skaters in Los Angeles were wearing, inspiring early brands such as Ocean Pacific, Off Shore and Stussy.
Supreme, which helped put streetwear on the map, was born in New York City in 1994. The brand’s unique store layout is designed with skaters at the forefront. The clothes are arranged around the perimeter of the store, creating a large central space that allows skaters with backpacks to skate into the store in comfort.
Complex, a social media company following trending streetwear, spoke to famous rapper and fashion icon A$AP Rocky, asking when he believed streetwear really exploded into the world. He said, “I would say 2011, around the time we were coming up.”
I first got into streetwear last September when I went to my first brand release, also known as a ‘drop’. This was the up-and-coming brand, Palace releasing its 2016 Fall/Winter collection.
From 7:45pm to 11:00am the next morning, me, my friends and about 200 other people camped outside the store in Leicester Square to then queue up, with numbered wristbands, to buy our favourite piece.
I managed to get myself a long sleeve shirt for £65.
At the drop, I saw kids much younger than me coming out of the store with four bags full of clothes, probably spending around £500!
With expensive high street brands such as Louis Vuitton, The North Face and Stone Island now collaborating with streetwear brands like Supreme and Nike, it’s easy to see why some young people end up spending so much money.
But they’re also making money through something called ‘proxies’.
A proxy is when someone buys clothes from a company, at retail price, and resells it to a customer.
For example, Palace recently had their first drop of 2017. People who couldn’t queue up got someone else, called a reseller, to go along to buy a specific item for them. The reseller adds on a certain percentage of the price, depending on the popularity of the item, usually around 15% to 20%.
Although I haven’t taken it seriously, I’ve managed to make a few hundred quid this way myself.
‘Highsnobiety’, which reviews lifestyle trends, interviewed Leo Mandella, known on Instagram as ‘Gully Guy Leo’ about how he profits from the streetwear scene.
“Of course I sell clothes, otherwise how would I be able to afford all the stuff I’m buying? It would literally be impossible.”