A few weeks ago I released a photography book, called Drop, with Powerhouse Books out of DUMBO.
The intention, during the conceptual stage, was to capture the intricacies and vitality of the streetwear ‘drop’ culture. The community; pedagogy; aesthetics; and experience. Kids sitting on Lafayette, crispy Tiffany Dunks on foot – eyefuxking each other’s grails while flossing their own. Debating Faces + Places or Kittesencula’s relative place in ‘the scene’. The scene being some combination of music festival and PFW high atelier runway presentation. Baby Burning Man for Hypebeasts.
At the time I thought I was creating a snapshot of a culture. Already it feels more like a time capsule.
Kith shifted all their drops to online ‘first come first serve’ reservations. Nike and Adidas too, using dedicated apps that announce releases in advance (replete with literal countdown clocks). Supreme has shifted to a system so multi-valent that the uninitiated literally crack up in disbelief when I explain the procedures.
‘Preme was rejected in their permit seeking for a Bond St pop-up for their LV collabo drop, meaning the quintessential New York brand didn’t launch their most famous collaboration in NYC at all, opting instead for Sydney, Beijing, Paris.
So…yeah….drop culture has shifted, inextricably. But even as it does, it rebirths. Rises from the ash, like the proverbial phoenix.
A ways back, I wrote an article on this site (https://sidewalkhustle.com/fashion-week-hello-darkness-my-old-friend/) questioning the rationality and necessity of fashion week(s), moving forward.
Certain brands, Vetements amongst them (natch), have foregone the traditional fashion week schedule, electing instead to do smaller presentations more regularly; essentially eschewing the notion of ‘seasonal collections’ altogether. Alexander Wang recently announced that he will be leaving NYFW, instead choosing to show in June and December, to align more closely with timelines of ‘pre-collections’, releasing this statement:
“Our consumer will be better served through the new system. The innovative approach reframes product on the month that it ships, rather than the outdated labels of ‘Resort’ or ‘Pre-Fall,’ giving our customers more relevant and consistent merchandise throughout the year.”
And with more designers who have (or have had) at least one foot in the streetwear camp (think Abloh at LV, Tisci at Givenchy, Jones at Dior Homme), it’s no great surprise that high fashion is beginning to adopt the notions of timed drops for their products as well, particularly as they’ve already begun to manage to create HB-level hype around their products already. I’m talking to you, Balenciaga, even if it is for those hideous orthopaedic dad shoes.
Tisci has already announced that, now that he’s newly ensconced at Burberry, they will be launching an ‘exclusive drops release strategy’, seeking to weaponize that streetwear-like fervour for all things new.
Make no mistake, we’ll be seeing this everywhere, from Calvin Klein (Raf has already experimented with this for years, notably in his Sterling Ruby capsule collections), to Saint Laurent (where Hedi Slimane’s notion of a permanent collection has been anything but permanent under Anthony Vacarello’s aegis) to Gucci, who has arguably done the best of all non-Georgian designers with regards to bringing street hype to the grands boulevards.
I once wrote that the beauty of fashion is that: ‘It ebbs and flows, bleeds and builds, always per our personal experiences’. The personal nature of the experience comes and goes, if I’m honest, but the rise and fall, experimentation, and avant-gardist intentions? They’re here to stay.