The Latest and Greatest: Hypebeasts

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A group of so-called Hypebeasts with their fresh kicks striking a pose for the camera. Photo Credit: FeelFreeArtz, a blog for streetwear brands.

He walks in the crowd with his Supreme boxers hanging out of his Dior joggers, boasting about the new CDG bomber that has recently blown up on social media. The guy in the party who cannot shut up about the latest and greatest trendy garment and his plan to invest in a T-shirt with a branded logo after saving up 6 months worth of his allowance.

To give a more detailed description of a Hypebeast, SBD (Sneaker Bar Detroit) provided a profile for the term as it applies to the fashion-obsessed shoe shopper:

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Jin Hyung Kim, a freshman at SAS, wearing an Off-white sweater as he poses for the camera. Photo Credit: Jin Hyung Kim

“A person who has no genuine love of a sneaker or its culture but knows the value, social or monetary, it holds and creates hysteria around a particular sneaker, based on superficial details, in an effort to bolster their own stature or to increase the resell value of a shoe they plan to buy then immediately resell.”

Many people following Hypebeast accounts on social media will probably know the term, however, the origin of where it came still remains a mystery to many of those people.

12 years ago, Kevin Ma, a Chinese sneaker enthusiast, founded a streetwear blog from his bedroom in Vancouver, stirring up a group of other enthusiasts in the culture of streetwear. He chose the name Hypebeast to describe a “trend chaser” for this site. Ma’s blog consisted of mainly his interests in clothing, fashion, and more importantly, sneakers.

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Kevin Ma, the founder of Hypebeast. Photo Credit: taken from The Elites.

With their website bringing in over 46 million page views a month, the site is receiving public recognition by many social media users. Their business now has an estimated value of US$270 million, having the title of “Asia’s best-performing debut stock of 2016”.

The Hypebeast community is gaining a lot of attention among Instagram, Twitter, Facebook users and the prediction is that it will continue to be that as fashion is constantly evolving and new anticipated brands will replace the older ones and it stays in this repeated cycle.

Although there are fantasies that revolve around the Hypebeast life — from their shopping sprees to their wardrobe contents — not all that glitters is gold; studies have found that some diagnosed mental illnesses can be linked to this expensive lifestyle. 

They may even copy others’ actions and behaviors, because their ability to be independent and autonomous is very impaired.

Experts agree that people with low self-esteem often rely heavily on external praise and approval to help define their identity. Whilst low self-esteem does not make a condition alone, in combination with other symptoms it can point to conditions including (but not limited to) anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and personality disorders. They are also more likely to experience social anxiety and low levels of interpersonal confidence. Underneath the apparent exterior, there’s a sense of inferiority and incompleteness. They may even copy others’ actions and behaviors because their ability to be independent and autonomous is impaired. 

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Sophomore Takumi Irwin and his freshman friends: Jin Hyung Kim, Nuno Mendonca, and Thomas Garita, posing for the camera. Photo Credit: Takumi Irwin

The ostentatious lifestyle of the Hypebeast can appear admirable, however, we must recognize that their life is not all fanciful and free. At the same time, this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be admired. Their effort to dress uniquely and to take risks that follow the latest and greatest style is certainly something that can be appreciated. If you accept that people who identify themselves as a Hypebeast are potentially lacking attention or very self-conscious (and covering it by investing on expensive clothing), you can use this information to help these individuals.   Leaving likes or comments on their Instagram page is the affirmation that they are seeking, and as long as it doesn’t feed the addiction, appears to do no harm. Still, you might argue that it’s like giving an alcoholic a drink.  

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Hypebeast’s latest cover featuring Supreme, a hyped skateboarding shop. Photo Credits: Hypebeast.com.

You can probably easily identify a Hypebeast when you look at his or her style and compare it with what brands have been “hyped” about on social media platforms. Another sign to identify a Hypebeast is to possibly look at the content an individual has recently been liking or posting because that is usually a  big sign he is interested in the activities of the leading trendsetters. But most of the time, the biggest Hypebeasts usually flaunt their interest everywhere they go, in both private and very public conversations. Not all fashionistas are Hypebeasts, but when their focus is guided by big fashion icons such as Kanye West and Rihanna, it might be appropriate to categorize them as part of the Hypebeast community; they are obsessed with the name and social implications of the brand, not the quality of the product. 

Like it or not, the term Hypebeast is firmly established in the vocabulary of the average teen and heard through the halls of SAS.  Although its newly derogatory nature can leave someone called a Hypebeast offended, remember that the original definition — recognizing the foresight to pick the winning trends of the future — suggests a far more appreciable status.  

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Kanye West and his face imprinted as the background of the Hypebeast logo, showcasing his influence over the Hypebeast community. Photo taken from Hat Films.

Author: Angela Hwang

Angela Hwang is a first-year reporter of the Eye. Currently, she is a sophomore attending the Singapore American School and has been at SAS for 8 years. She spends her free time hitting balls with her 7 iron, singing along to new Kpop music-especially Blackpink's singles, and watching horror films on a rainy night. If you are looking for any exposure to the Korean culture scene, she’s your girl. Angela can be contacted at hwang41112@sas.edu.sg.

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