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Resale street wear's billion dollar industry

Muse Editor Alex Thompson takes a closer look at the increasingly profitable yet volatile market of resale street wear.

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Every Thursday morning, eager street wear enthusiasts line up outside the Supreme store in Soho. Some have been waiting there since 6am. Others have spent the night in tents. They’re all waiting for the latest drop of limited edition street wear and sneakers, hoping to walk out of the store with a heavy dent in their wallet and a bag brimming with branded box logos. Most of these clothes won’t even be worn.

Street wear reselling is now big business for entrepreneurial teenagers, who buy up large quantities of limited edition goods with the sole purpose of selling them on at an inflated price.

The hype surrounding releases drives up the prices oft he resale products and the often super-limited quantity sends the resale cost of these items skyrocketing as demand soars. One of the most sought after items, the coveted Supreme box logo hoodie, might set you back£180 on the retail market,but a recent search of the resale site Stock X shows most sell for anywhere be-tween £600 and £1000. Not a bad profit for an embroidered jumper.It’s an easy option to make money if you have the knowledge and ability to guess which items will be the most sought after. As a teenager, this was how I made a large portion of my disposable income and it’s helped pay for an awful lot of nights out.

Every Thursday and Friday morning at break time, I would wait for the latest batch of Supreme products to drop online and buy a couple of the most hyped items. Everything would sell out in minutes. A hefty parcel would arrive several days later and most of the contents would go straight on Depop. Sometimes I’d make several hundred pounds profit from a single pair of trainers or a sought after collaboration. It’s still an easy way for me to make some quick cash.

While it may be a profitable industry, it’s not a stable one. Every season street wear, sneakers and often brands fall in and out of fashion and while the short lifespan of street wear fuels consumption, it also means that investing in expensive pieces can be a gamble. To make money on street wear, you need to know your shit.

Where the business mostly started with teenagers reselling items via Ebay, Depop or online communities like The Basement,larger corporations have started to see the insane profit margins that the resale industry provides and are quickly cashing in on the trend. Sites like StockX, Grailed, Stadium Goods or GOAT now offer a sort of middleman between these sellers and consumers, authenticating goods and offering a safer way for re-sellers to trade.This new model allows businesses to profit off the ever increasing demand for luxury and designer street wear, with the sneaker resale industry being valued at $1 billion in 2018.

Once a niche market for sneaker obsessives and teenagers with an encyclopedic knowledge of street wear, the resale industry is now big business. Scarcity and social media hype are pushing prices higher and higher, with a new generation of street wear-obsessed fans clamoring over the latest drops from Supreme, Palace and Nike.The resale business is quickly swallowing the sneaker and street wear industry and it’s not hard to see why.The street wear bubble is reaching an all-time high, the question is- when is it going to burst?

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