A breakdown into the industry and the mind by Chris.
I guess this is always something I've wanted to write about. I was always hesitant to speak on this topic because it might change the way a lot of people look at things. When I was in New York I was staying at a friends' place and we talked about the "Secrets" of the internet. There are a lot of secrets. Some of which I'll tell over time and others that people like us will never let out. If I told everyone all the secrets behind everything, I think they'd know everything they needed to take over. Once you start doing this entire "owning a brand" thing, you learn the secrets, you make your own, you discover some in different places of the world. This entire "clothing" world and "fashion" industry is run by brands. Brands that know the secrets. Brands that know that you don't know anything that happens behind retail doors or behind the manufacturing plants. To me, that's the most fun part. Clothes are the most important thing in my life. I care about clothes and brands more than I care about girls, more than I care about school, more than I care about friends. I'm sure that goes for a lot of people on here, too. Clothes are like trading cards. Collectable items. Rare cards, generic cards, expensive cards, unique cards. But that's all dictated by brands and psychological influence.
This is not a blog about OHKAY yet I will reference the brand a few times in here because a lot of the stuff that is spoken on here either helped shape OHKAY or I learned about while creating this brand. Something I learned early on is that to own a brand you need to be constantly aware of brands. I feel like as part of my job as a curator and a content creator, I need to be seeing what's going on. I live in a big city and I go out and live in the city light. Every party I go to, I'm studying brands. When I go to class, I sit in the back so I can see what every single person is wearing. Everytime I'm on the train I make sure to look at every single person's' outfit and try to piece together a story about them based off of what they chose to wear out that day. At the party, I match up brand to personality. The kid wearing Vineyard Vines is typically not going to know the word to every song but the kid in a Chance 3 what is. The kid in the Supreme shirt is more likely to have stuff in common with me compared to the frat dude in the jeans and the boat shoes. Why? Because someone who wears Vineyard Vines buys into the silly expensive whale because it makes them feel "Higher echelon" or "preppy" or it screams "my parents own boats and make money". But a kid who buys into Supreme and has a really cool unique hoodie from 2006 can probably talk about brands with me because if they have that hoodie, they clearly knew where to buy it, how to obtain it, and they care about it. Don't get me wrong there's nothing bad about preppy clothes or any of that I just would never let someone in my house wearing Vineyard Vines. Different lifestyles I guess. If someone walks by with a shirt I've never seen before that I could see myself wearing, I ask them what brand it is. Where they got it. Who made it. It's just stuff like that. When I'm on the train, if I see someone wearing a Gosha scarf I'm instantly going to talk to them. Why? They like a brand that I like. They have a $200 scarf. They're into what I'm into. Brands are associations. Brand evoke emotion. Brands allow you to be a part of something. Brands allow you to express yourself in certain ways. Brands make you who you are.
That being said, I want to ask the first question. What are you wearing? Look at your outfit. You might be reading this on the train, maybe at your desk, maybe on your phone in your room, maybe in bed on your laptop. But look at what you're wearing. Figure out the brands. Adidas maybe? Nike socks? A shirt from the mall? A hoodie you got for Christmas? I'm sure every article of clothing on your body is branded. A tag somewhere or a swoosh sewn in or maybe three white stripes down a pant leg. I bet you didn't wake up and think "Let me match this brand with that brand", but you did. Do you think about each brand as you put it on? Do you think "Oh, if I wear Adidas track pants today I'll feel like I'm an athlete" or maybe "I want to look like I skateboard, the Thrasher hoodie it is!".
I'm wearing a Gosha x Fila hoodie I got in Dover Street Market in London over a Fucking Awesome tee I also got in London. I'm wearing Helmut Lang pants, Nike socks, Supreme boxers, and Adidas Palace trainer shoes. Lots of brands, right? More than just "socks a shirt some pants and a hoodie". Why? Because I love these things.
Lets define a brand.
By definition, a BRAND (noun) is a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name.
But it's much more than that.
I opened this up by talking about brands from a clothing perspective, but I want to take a step back and look at it from an even wider perspective.
Do you have a favorite, hm....
Sports team? Music artist? Makeup Company? Soda drink? Shampoo? Movie? Is there an apple on the back of your phone or laptop?
I'm sure you could answer all of those. Everything is a brand. Well, to me it is.
I'm going to use Coca-Cola for example. Before I dive into this, think about how a brand makes you feel. When you go to the store and you're looking for a soda, you're most likely thirsty. You go down that aisle and look at all the different options. What differentiates every product? The label. The color of the drink. The shape of the bottle. And lastly, your connotation with the brand. You see a Coca-Cola product and you instantly think of it. You know it's a nice taste on your tongue. You think of the coca-cola bear you see all winter. You think of the red trucks and the "ahhhhh" sound you make when you first drink it. That's why you spend $2.29 for a Coca-cola instead of $.99 for that knock off brand. Because you like the brand.
If you live in a city, or go to school in a busy place, or even go to parties and choose not to drunk drive (thank you for chosing that option and shame on you if you don't) then you know the idea of paying for a ride. In the past year there have been two major brands will multi million dollar breakthrough ideas. What do they do? They're little buttons on your phone that you press, type in where you are, where you want to go and they send a car to pick you and bring you from point A to point B. One of the best ideas of our generation! My favorite app and something I do every day! You guessed it: Uber / Lyft.
Let's break this down statistically and look at things from a broad point of view. Now, I must say that I've never downloaded the app Lyft. I don't even plan on doing so, ever. But, I know that the brand and company LYFT pays its' drivers more per ride, has an in-app "tip your driver" feature, and ensures that riders are driven by safe drivers constantly. My friends tell me that Lyft is even cheaper. But I don't care. I always Uber. I'm sure Uber executives were dancing around the office when MadeInTYO dropped Uber Everywhere, giving teens and just about everyone in the world something to listen to and snapchat as they hopped in the uber and demanded "gimme the aux!"
Maybe the influence from rapper MadeInTYO with the cosign of Kylie Jenner and just about everyone in the world this past summer made the brand Uber the go-to amongst millennials (us kids). So, why Uber over Lyft? I don't know! I just love Uber! Their sleek in app feel, their quick service, the fact that I trust Uber with my life! Both brands do the exact same service in the exact same time, only difference is the app you're buying into for the ride!
From the brands' point of view, it must be awesome to see what goes on at those creative tables. Keep in mind Uber is getting significantly more customers than Lyft, especially amongst young users like myself. So imagine this: the Uber Office. A bunch of young creatives sitting around a table laughing out loud to eachother saying "hahahaha, must suck to work at Lyft" while they probably drink coffee with a lot of cream and a ton of sugar and throw what I imagine to be electronic darts at a sign that says "LYFT". But, over at Lyft they're probably screaming and yelling "HOW DO WE GET PEOPLE TO STOP RIDING WITH UBER AND START USING LYFT!?".
That really interests me. One brand is always going to be on top and one brand is always going to be trying to take the top dog down. That's what happens when you have two major businesses doing the same thing. One last thing to think about: the demolition of the idea of a Taxi. Kids will never take Taxis anymore. I took a Taxi to a party with my friends in New York a few weeks ago and I just felt weird. I didn't talk to the driver. I didn't ask them how their day was, what they're into, what brands they like. In the Uber, that's all i do. I Uber Pool to and from parties in Chicago just to meet new people and have a quick conversation with new voices and minds! Before we switch topics, keep this in mind. What ways will you now look to see how the two companies are trying to stab each other in the back? Here's a half decent article about it. Watch the video below, a recent spot put out by Lyft around the time of the MLB World Series (well, that's when I first saw it). Watch how they spent all this money as a company to create an 30 second video ad just to get people to hate uber!
Lastly, I think this is funny. I just did some searching around different search engines and thought this should be included in here. When you google Lyft, the first thing you see is the Lyft site, then you see right under it that UBER pays TONS of money to be the 2nd thing that pops up! But wait, it gets better. As retaliation, LYFT DOES THE SAME THING TO UBER!!!! AHHHH!!! CORPORATE FIST FIGHTS OVER THE INTERNET!!!! BRANDS!!! RIDES!!! CARS!!! COMPETITION!!! And what are they trying to do with the text ad under the site? Recruit drivers. Why? The more drivers there are, the less time it takes for someone like you and I to hail a car when we press "request". The less time it takes, the happier we are, the more likely we are to use the service and buy into their brand. Booyah!
Thispast winter break I traveled around a lot and studied brands. I spent a week and a half in London in the beginning of break and another week and a half in New York. Two major hubs for brands and teenage clothing culture. Two places where trends start, end, and develop. I worked with a group of kids who belong to a group called The Basement and basically it's run by a bunch of incredible people who all love brands. I got to see how things differ in the teenage culture between London and New York. Personally I love London and I'll forever like the scene there a bit more just because it's really down to earth where as the New York scene is a bit more cut throat. I guess you have to be involved to understand what I'm saying, but I just love the people in London. To those kids, everything Supreme is their grail. They love archive pieces, old coats, track suits, all that. In New York people are more focused on being more creative with their fits and moving away from forced branding and streetwear and they're transitioning into more of a "fashion" aesthetic rather than a "streetwear" look. If you want to look at things more deeply, London Men Fashion Week is ocuring right now and it's the talk of the internet. Take a few minutes and look at some LMFW photos on Vogue or The Basement or somewhere. Look at the type of people photographed, the way they are in groups, their outfits, their piercings and tattoos. Then the 2nd week in February keep an eye out for New York Fashion Week and look at similarities and differences. They'll be visible. I'm going to NYFW so I'll shoot some photos and write about my findings.
But over in London, it blew me away to see the lack of blatant brands on the bodies and clothes of everyone I walked by. I realized this is because America is so heavily indulged in sports. We have 50 states and every state has various different sports teams. Being from Boston, I grew up in a sport loving culture. The Bruins B, the Patriots logo, the Celtics green, the Red logo on the navy Red Sox cap. Every year one brand per sport wins and becomes the best. Each year around that time, those logos are more seen and more spoken about. Each team is its own brand. Think about all the people who represent their favorite sports brand on their hoodie, cap, shirt, backpack, car, everything. License plates that say "Red Sox" on them. Bumper stickers "Free Brady". Hats from when the Sox won the World Series in 2004. It's all branding. It's brands. Dunkin Donuts sponsors the Red Sox. "America Runs On Dunkins". That's a branding slogan. That's something you see, you hear in commercials, and you think when you chose to pay $2.49 for a Medium Iced Coffee. If you're from New England, you know that you'd rather have a Dunks ice coffee over any other brand, any day of the week. Why? Because you grew up loving Dunks. Look at that, we call it Dunks. If you're from Texas or California reading this, you have no clue what I'm talking about. But Dunkin Donuts is a brand that is so dominant in New England and truly does have a cult following. In Chicago, the cult following for Dunks isn't there. To get more people to drink Dunkin Donuts Ice Coffee, they run a promotion every single day from 2-6pm where if you order a coffee in that time, it's only $1 exactly. They would never do such a thing in Boston, because they don't need to. I was in Chicago this year when the Cubs won the world series for the first time in over 100 years. Every single person was wearing something Cubs brand for the entire month leading up to the championship, and you bet that every person in this entire city sported a blue Cubs shirt the day, the week, and the month after they won. People buy into brands so much here in America because we all have so many to choose from. In London, there's no 300 dominant sports teams. They have soccer and that's about it. But there was something special about the night I was alone getting on the train in London and I stood next to the guy wearing a Red Sox hat. "Man, this really isn't Boston" I said to him. He laughed a bit and said "Certainly ain't no New England". "What brings you here?" he asked. "Just exploring" I told him. "I've been working here for six months and I wear this hat almost every day. I've never once found someone that even knew that that logo meant." he explained. We talked for a bit about traveling and stuff. I made a new friend on that train ride. Why? That's what brands do. They connect people.
Break. Real quick, why is this backpack $650, lol.
This idea goes for nearly all brands. Streetwear, sports, teams, video games, soda drinks, everything.
I want you to know that if you want to print something on a white shirt, a blank shirt costs about $3. You can google how to screen print and you can get your design on there.
So a blank Hanes shirt costs about $4. BUT a blank Hanes shirt with a "SUPREME" logo on the tag costs about $45. Hanes and Supreme teamed up in the early 2000s and decided that every Supreme shirt will be manufactured through Hanes. So that exact shirt would be a few dollars at a local Target, but right when you print that small red logo in the bottom right, the price multiplies by 10x. Because it just got branded.
So if I want to go to the store and buy a Hanes shirt for $4 and screenprint a "Supreme Box Logo" on it I can do that for a total of probably $18. But if I want to buy a Supreme Box Logo shirt from someone that owns it and got it when Supreme released it, I'm going to pay $400.
You know me. You know I'm into clothes. You know I love brands. So I have no problem paying $400 for a shirt. Why? Because of how it makes me feel.
Supreme is a brand that has no definition. Nike has no definition. Adidas doesn't. They're just associated with things. Supreme is skate culture, Nike and Adidas are sports culture, so on and so forth.
So in the market, there's tons of products that are essentially the same. When I say the same, I mean the function of them are the same. T Shirts are made for wearing. But every brand has their own logo, their own tag, their own connotation.
This is an example I think a lot of people can understand, or some at least.
"Purpose Tour Merch". A 'collection' of clothes designed by Jerry Lorenzo for Justin Bieber's Purpose World Tour that nearly robbed the pockets of thousands, for millions.
Before I go any further, I'll tell you one of the secrets. A Gildan shirt costs $1.89 from the distributor. Two dollars. Less. For $10 I can get 5 shirts. I have the same license that all big brands have, and in the past few years everyone realized that Gildan was the money maker.
For this Purpose Tour Merch, Jerry Lorenzo stole a bunch of designs from a brand called Vetements and transformed them to say stuff that would sell to Bieber fans. They screen printed 3 colors on the front of the shirt for a total of three additional dollars, making the cost per unit on a Purpose Tour Shirt $5. They then sold them at all the concerts for $45. WITH THE GILDAN TAGS STILL ON. They didn't have the decency to hire a team of people to cut the Gildan tags out. And you know what, the world all bought them. Sold out, cashed out. The image below shows a tan Gildan shirt with screen print on it. Costing a total of $5 to produce the shirt and sell it with the distributor tags still in it, they sold for like I said, $45. Flawlessly. It was brilliant. It worked. It was a secret to the industry. Print on Gildan sell it expensive knowing people aren't smart or aware enough to care about the shirt itself, just the logo on the front. I took this photo below in my local PacSun in absolute awe that they're nearly robbing people. That shirt costs $2 my friends. And maybe an additional $3 to print the logo on it.
It really opened my eyes when I walked into my local mall a few weeks back. I walked by Pacsun and saw a Huf Hoodie in the window. You all know Huf. The brand that did the weed socks. Cool brand, been around for a long time, run by a really cool guy, great products in the past, but I noticed something about the hoodie on display in the window. When you walk by a store, the company thinks "what can we put in the window to get people to walk in, what is most appealing?". I noticed a pink Huf hoodie. But I noticed it wasn't a Huf hoodie, it was a Gildan hoodie. I could tell by the cufs and the wasteband. I went up to it and looked inside, only to find that it was a Gildan Hoodie that Huf bought for $11, cut the Gildan tags out of, had someone sew their tag in, printed once on the front, and sold for $65. If you look closely in the photo you can see that they just snipped the gildan tag out and left some white thread behind.
Sidenote: in the world of clothes and brands, I look at it like a staircase. When you start a brand, you are on the lowest stair and you print on stuff like Gildan. You use a little bit of money to make a brand and try to make more money. But once you level up, establish, and start creating real product, that is when you have stuff cut n sewn over seas, or maybe in LA, or you work on making stuff from scratch. Once you step up the stairs as a brand, you can't so back down. So for HUF to be producing stuff like this made me lose every bit of respect for them. They sat around a table and said "Let's scam people. We'll buy Gildan hoodies and print on them and sew our tags in and sell them for $65 in stores". That's ok to do if your'e an internet brand or a kid printing on stuff, but that's not cool as a multi million dollar corporation with $$$$ to spend on product and years of creation and experience under your belt. Just food for thought.
People want to represent this brand so they buy into it.
They know they could get a way better quality shirt for $45 or $65 but they don't care. It's not about the quality. It's about representing something. An idea. and it's about how they feel when they wear it.
This concept developed a lot for me over the past year. I've been into this fashion stuff for a while but when OHKAY really started to take off I had to know how to shape a brand. I was able to do that because I knew the secrets to the brand stuff. I know how all of this works. Don't get me wrong, I was in the position where I had to print on Gildan at one point. Every teen-owned brand starts like that. It's about building the brand. Every kid that knows clothes knows that no matter what brand it is, they're hesitant to buy a Gildan hoodie with a tag in it. I know that my brand is better than Gildan at this point and I'll never ever step back down to that stair. Now that I have made money and invested back into the brand, I'm going to be making high quality product on high quality garments. All the way until I can afford to make hoodies out of patterns I make and have them hand sewn in the USA by a creative team that I want to support.
For you streetwear kids, I'll give you a great example you can relate to. This is one of the best social experiments to date in this "youth culture" phenomenon.
A brand owned by A$AP Bari. Well, partially owned. But operated by Bari. The brand has been around for a few years now but it just recently got huge. The logo: an orange V. The meaning behind the brand "Live Alone Die Alone. Vlone".
Now, this brand is considered "Fashion". Why? Because everyone in 'fashion' wears it.
It was one of the best ideas of 2016 for Bari. It was a multi million dollar idea.
He had all of A$AP wear the stuff. Rocky loves it. Kanye loves it. Ian was such a big part of it. Carti has it tattooed on his neck. Lil Uzi Vert raps about it. Virgil Abloh collaborates with the brand. Every kingpin "fashion" person has something to do with the curation of the brand VLONE.
They even had Carti make a song called VLONE THUG
In the hook of this song, a major artist like Lil Uzi Vert sings "Off-White, Buy It, VLONE Buy It,
A main reason all these fashion "icons" support the brand is because what no one knows is that they all own big portions of it. Lil Uzi vert owns part of VLONE. Rocky owns part of Vlone. Bari flexes that he makes all this money but he just made a brand and figured out how to scam kids. They do some creative stuff like their LA and Art Basel Pop Up shops but that's about it. The rest is a scam.
Now, VLONE for the first eight months of the year was printed on GILDAN. $2 tees with 1 screen print. Sold for $150. In the photo below you can see that at the VLONE Pop Up shop they got their products out of Gildan boxes........
Why did people buy it? why did it sell out every time? Why can they get away with selling a $4 shirt for $150? Because they know people don't want the shirt. They want the brand. They want the V. They want to feel like they're a part of something. They want to feel like they're closer to Ian, closer to Ye, closer to Rocky, closer to Bari.
But the sad part about that brand is the fact that Bari and all of them are just stealing money from the kids of the culture. And it hurt me so much over the year to see this. I knew kids who spent their parents hard earned money, like $300-500 of it, just for a hoodie and a shirt that said VLONE. I looked inside the pieces, you can see they cut the Gildan tags right out.
VLONE decided to switch it up a bit. They went with some "Cut and Sewn Camo" pieces that people thought were hand made. But guess what everyone, they just bought those longsleeves from THIS SITE , screen printed on the front and the back, had a woman in the Fashion District on NY sew the tag in, and they sold it for $250 per shirt. I wouldn't be nearly as mad if this was a shirt that cost $75 because that's still a lot, but it's not outrageous like the $250 tag.
Now, this, I guess, would be fine if Bari wasn't talking so much about how it's all cut n sew. It was just him lying to the kids to get a paycheck.
Bari went on Nike ID and made a shoe. You know, how you can customize a pair of shoes online. He made one for VLONE.
He posted a few photos of them. Then he got a photo of Rocky with them, Ye with them.
They became "exclusive" and "wanted by everyone". Why? I don't know.
They went on E-Bay. They sold for $91,000. Yup. 91k for a pair of shoes. That's more than a lot of adults make in a year.
So this just goes to show that influence dictates brands. Famous "Fashion Icons" wear a few shirts, jack the price up, and kids buy it right up. I would never buy anything from VLONE because I can go print it myself for $12 and guess what, I don't care about what the brand means because all I see on Instagram is Bari flexing that he has all this money and he's out there acting all tough when its just not even his money and he got it from scamming kids for a few shirts and hoodies.
Another example that makes me laugh every time and I can't even laugh at it because I've bought into it a few times is the Raf Simons Stan Smith shoes.
Do you have a pair of Stan Smith Adidas Trainers? You might. If you don't, you know that they are. The regular Adidas shoes with the 3 lines perforated into the sides. They retail for $75 with free shipping!
Now, if you're not into fashion you don't know who Raf Simons is, but he's one of the greatest of this time. He's a designer with a very high end brand with high end price points. People love Raf pieces. Old Raf pieces are some of the most unique collectors items in fashion. Raf is some really nice older white man that knew how to make a brand before all this internet stuff came to life. But, the internet helped make Raf......Raf.
Raf and Adidas worked together on one of my favorite shoes ever. The biggest joke in fashion. The "Raf Simons Stan Smith" doesn't have 3 stripes perforated down the side of the shell of the shoe, instead it's the letter R. I have a friend named Naf who wears the Rafs all day all year.
That's it. That's the only difference. The tongue is a bit thinner on the Rafs and has a print on it and it says Raf Simons on the side of the shoe but it's nearly the same shoe.
The Raf Simons (same function) Stan Smith sells for around $300 - $400.00. Because of that R.
And I have 3 pairs of them. But you will never catch me dead in a pair of regular Stan Smiths. Why? Because I love Raf and the brand of raf. And when you're on that level of clothes, it's also about recognition. If I'm on the train or I'm downtown or I'm walking around and someone says "Nice Rafs", it's instant validation. I know they know. I know they're into clothes. I know they know brands. I know they're into fashion. So i guess it's one of those things. That's why i have 3 of them. But they're the exact same thing and function as the shoe I just told you i'd never be caught dead wearing.
So all you need is a brand and a recognizable logo, then get famous people to wear it, and bam you're off. That's a secret, i guess, too. It doesn't matter what the product is, it matters what it represents and who it is backed by.
Now let's talk about brands in the day of 2017.
Not a single person reading this does not understand that the Internet is the largest platform for teenagers and influencers in today's age.
Hell, we live in the DIGITAL AGE. The age of influence. The age of PERSONAL BRANDS.
I'm going to use myself for an example then branch off. This is another type of secret. Me, Christian Brown, owns the account on Instagram @OHKAYCHRIS. I go to parties in cities and I'll walk in and people will be like oh word that's ohkaychris. I'll be in random places and people will be like "oh yo you're ohkaychris". So I am a personal brand. My style is a personal brand. Me traveling the world adds to my brand. Me influencing people to write and create is part of my personal brand. My outfits my captions my blogs my creations my travels my friends my adventures, they create my personal brand.
Personal Branding is something that everyone who is someone on the internet has mastered. When you get on the internet and you start getting followers and stuff, you become a personal brand. The things you say influence others. The things you wear become cooler. The people you meet and follow and hangout with are all extensions of your personal brand. I made an instagram name when I was a freshman in highschool and now I'm a personal brand.
An iconic brand developed by a bunch of personal brands that I will forever look up to and credit for every bit of creativity I learned to product today is Odd Future. From the years 2011 - 2016, Odd Future created an empire. Below is a song called Oldie. If you aren't familiar with the creative collective Odd Future, it's a group of kids from LA lead by Tyler, The Creator that started a creative revolution around 2012. I grew up looking up to OF. And if you didn't know, Tyler is one of the main reasons Supreme is what it is today. When Tyler wore the leopard 5 panel cap in Yonkers, the world saw what that logo meant. OF was on Supreme before anyone thought it was cool. OF introduced me to Supreme and taught me that I can do whatever I want in this world. I guess it's crazy to see kids that look up to me wearing supreme and making their own brand and not even knowing OF. But Odd Future was a group of kids who all rapped, made videos, and made clothes. Nearly every member in the group; from Tyler to Earl to Frank Ocean to Hodgy to Jasper to Taco, they all created a brand out of themselves, and they came together to be Odd Future. This is the only song that every member raps on and it was at the end of OF Volume 2 an album they all made together. This song is so monumental and iconic to me. At the end of it, Tyler raps "I started an empire, I ain't even old enough to drink a fucking beer I'm tipsy off the soda pop".
The OF donut socks made $300,000 in 2015. "Golf" as a brand is something Tyler made that I will forever look up to. He created an entire clothing brand out of 4 letters. He doesn't even golf. Golf derived from their acronym OFWGKTA which starts out with Odd Future Wolf Gang. They took the W and the G and flipped them, making Golf Wang. They dropped the Wang overtime and kept Golf, and Tyler ran with it. He recently had a fashion show in LA (below). Tyler taught me that you need to have people believe in your vision, then you can create whatever you want. It doesn't have to be just music or just blogs or just magazines. You can do clothes, you can do paintings, you can be a graphic designer. You just need to maintain creativity and continue growing you personal brand until it shows off in your actual brand.
Now, for the clothing brand, I wanted to make an extension of my personal brand. OHKAY is a brand that I've made from scratch. I still don't know what it means. I don't have a witty saying or a cool animal logo. But I make products, I take photos, and I created a world of those 5 letters. People ask me all the time "how do i start a brand" and I can never answer that. There's no algorithm to being a successful clothing brand. The key to being a successful clothing brand is knowing how to shape a brand. People that don't know OHKAY and see it for the first time in stores or online might be hesitant to buy it. But people that follow it know everything about it. Why? Because it's meant to be like that. Some brands out there hide themselves, maybe because they aren't themselves. Every day I see "Instagram brands" and I click through them and they might have half decent products, but I just know they'll never succeed. To have a successful clothing brand you need to create an entire brand and a meaning before you create products people want.
"Merch" is something that fascinates me. OHKAY was made so that I could make designs but not sell them as "ohkaychris merch". That shit is so stupid to me. I know tons of kids who got popping on Vine and put their first and last name on a shirt and sell it at their meet & greets as "merch" and little girls pay whatever the price is for it. That stuff is so lame to me. It's cool because it makes my friends money to travel and pay for stuff and be happy, but the idea of merch is really lame. That's a brand, that stuff is an expansion of a personal brand, but it's not a meaningful brand to the world. I'm not talking down on the kids that do it because a lot of my friends make a lot of $$$ and eat very well because they have "fans" and "supporters" who 'love them' and think they 'changed their lives' but it's all so phony but I'll get into that another time. I'll just never really appreciate anyone that has a "brand" or "merch" that they don't personally make, know the manufactur, and ship by hand. I even know kids who I'm friends with in the fashion industry that made a smart "dad hat" and got it on Rihanna and Wiz and sold a LOT of units and made a LOT of money, but they never touched the product. They had some people overseas embroider the hats and ship them to customers. I guess I'lly never appreciate that type of brand because it's just people making money without caring about what they're selling. The moral of this is that people buy "merch" because they want to support a specific person. People buy brands because they want to be a part of an idea.
An example of an influential person who then made a brand and since it was backed by them the price points were high: Kanye and Yeezy.
Not a single person reading this can say they’re not aware of the Yeezy empire. If you don’t know, Kanye’s creative team is called Donda. Named after his mom who passed away, Donda is a creative team consisting of 9 people, lead by West and his creative director Virgil Abloh. All of them have been working together for years, all to build the personal brand of Kanye West with the long thought idea of making a brand which is what turned into Yeezy.
The shoes are comfy. They’re good slip ons. They cost around $11 to make in some crazy warehouse overseas and the fake yeezy shoes fit and feel the exact same. They retail at $220 and last year they were selling for $900 - 1100 on the market.
You can read HERE about the resell guide and pricing to Yeezys.
If you’re into high fashion there’s no way you haven’t educated yourself on the brand Vetements that has come into the light a ton lately over the past year. Initially cosigned by a few big names then worn by everyone else with what seems to be a lot of disposable money for a hoodie, the pieces speak for themselves. Vetements is designed by Demna, one of the largest names amongst Raf Rick and the others of the OG fashion world. Vetements releases regular tee shirts, sometimes oversized or sometimes to be seen with boxed shoulders. The tees come out at $800.
The hoodies are pretty generic, my friends and I have a few of them, and they’re just heavy hoodies with prints on the front and a branded embroidery on the hood. The hoodies retail for $1200. At the end of the day, it sounds crazy to spend $1200 on a hoodie. But it’s one of those high tier fashion items. If you know the Coming Soon hoodie from Vetements and you see someone wearing it, you give them that recognition and respect. I know a lot of people who will buy it just to feel like they’re into fashion, or they see people wearing it and be like “word that vetements fire” just for that mutual recognition. But since everyone in the high fashion world wears Vetements, everyone feels like they want to spend ridiculous prices just to cop a shirt and post a fit pic.