Streetwear obituaries are a popular genre at the moment, and WWD is adding to the canon with a piece on this year’s notably lackluster ComplexCon and the myriad factors – inauthenticity, over exposure, unoriginality – that made it so.
“There’s a bit of ennui permeating streetwear right now,” the story says, adding that a “diminished enthusiasm was apparent at Complex Media’s fourth annual ComplexCon in Long Beach, Calif.”
(ComplexCon, for those wondering, has basically functioned as the Hypebeast Super Bowl since its inception, and while the story described it as a “fancy flea market,” it also was quick to note that it “does in the low tens of millions of dollars in product sales.”)
Attributing some of that ambivalence to “corporate sponsorships and ubiquitous partnerships” and more still to the “the $400 ‘vintage’ windbreakers and $120 canvas totes,” the story noted that “many owners of brands that paid to be at this year’s event openly wondered about the future of the subculture-turned-industry, and how meaningful a presence at such an event is.”
That event, the story said, is now largely characterized by “corporate brands taking up much of the space in hopes of… simply being seen by a younger male shopper they’re desperate to appeal to.” And though some (presumably) interesting partnerships and collabs are still happening, the spirit of the event has changed — American Express was a partner, for instance, which really screams counterculture.
As one streetwear veteran — somewhat hypocritically — put it, when the “corporate guys come in, the big money comes in, and it dilutes it all.” That dilution only amplifies, he said, when the prime goal for attendees is reselling the exclusive merch.
“It’s so homogenized and it’s so commercial,” added one prominent stylist. “There used to be a real energy in streetwear and men’s wear and it’s changed. It’s a little boring.”
You can read more about it at WWD.