Last spring, Byron Hawes, a New York-based writer and designer who serves as the contributing editor for Hypebeast, launched a fashion and photography book called Drop. The title alludes to “drop days” — when streetwear brands introduce new collections. These drops are like Christmas for fashion aficionados. Some even travel internationally to line up in person, dressed in their best kicks and rarest gear. Items are often resold at astronomical prices, some even going for tens of thousands of dollars (like those featured in the recent Supreme auction at French auction house Artcurial).
While compiling his book, Hawes collected photos from rare product launches from across the globe, including events in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Seoul, Beijing, and Tokyo, from brands including Supreme, A Bathing Ape, Patta, Yeezy, Anti Social Social Club, Vetements, and Off-White. When we decided to dig into the culture and communities behind “drop days” we knew he’d be the perfect person to talk to. We spoke on the phone and the author didn’t dissapoint — offering an insider’s perspective to a truly fascinating subculture.
So, tell me a bit about Drop — or what you feel about it.
The premise of the book is a sort of photographic exploration of streetwear culture, like line-up culture. Over the last 5-10 years, we would go up to the Palace (New York) or wherever Supreme would drop and kids would literally be there all night. It’s like a new Star Wars movie or something. There’s an aspect in it that I found really interesting, in that there’s a sort of sense of community or camaraderie. It’s the same people every single time. Every single person knows every other person. There’s also an aspect where it functions almost like a music festival and maybe like a fashion show, the way high fashion people do things during fashion week.
You can see where street culture doesn’t typically have that kind of thing, but these kids will pay for rarest, rarest clothes.
Did you grow up admiring the culture, or it’s just something, like you said, you just noticed walking around?
Oh, no, I used to be a contributing editor for HighSnobiety, I’ve been writing for Hypebeast on and off for, I don’t know, like eight years, 10 years, something like that. I wrote for Sneaker Freaker way back in the day…I’ve been in the industry game for a long time.
I used to do projects with Nike. We worked on the 25th anniversary of Air Force One in China, maybe 10 years ago. It’s been a long time. I’ve been collecting this stuff for years and years.
Okay, so what do you think about the fanatically-driven brands, like Supreme? Why do you think they have such an appeal to people?
I don’t know, it’s funny. It’s hard to kind of lump them all together. Supreme is a thing all on its own.
I genuinely believe in the next few years, Harvard will be teaching a marketing course on the technique Supreme uses. I don’t think any fashion or lifestyle company has ever done so well at controlling their hype and keeping it going. It’s been 25 years. For a lower Manhattan skatewear brand to still be the biggest thing is pretty extraordinary. Most people don’t get that kind of leeway. So I’m quite surprised.
Right, and from you talking about how it builds a sense of community, do you feel like this is a healthy thing for people to indulge in?