How can it be that a brand like Supreme has developed from a small skateboard shop in New York to a global phenomenon worth over $ 1 billion? How can it be that there exist platforms on which limited special editions of clothing instead of securities are traded at incredible prices and are targeted by the Chinese central bank? The fuel of this phenomenon can be summed up in one word: exclusivity. More and more consumers want exclusivity as an expression of their own unique identity in a society of mass consumption. Exclusivity helps individuals to stand out from the crowd and feel special. This blog entry gives you exciting insights into the world of limited editions and explains why we at Wunderkey attach particular importance to the exclusivity of our products.
"Product Drops" as collectibles in the fashion world
Everyone knows the typical collectibles such as limited baseball cards, stamps or gold coins. But a similar phenomenon has been emerging in the fashion world for some years. It only took 16 seconds for Rimowa's suitcase collection, which was designed in collaboration with the streetwear brand Supreme, to sell out. This is definitely an impressively quick sale, especially considering the impressive starting price of $ 1,600. Both brands announced the collaboration just three days before publication with the help of a social media post.
The procedure, to offer a product or a collection in a limited edition, in small and limited quantities, at selected retail locations without major advance notice or announcement, is called a “drop” in the fashion jargon. Supreme is seen by many experts as the king of this retail strategy. The company was founded in the 1990s as a small skateboard shop in New York and is now valued at $ 1 billion. Supreme is known for its collaborations with numerous skateboard and clothing brands. In the collaboration projects, Supreme, together with other well-known and established brands, designs exclusive "co-branded" products. In addition to regular projects with Nike, Vans, Clarks, The North Face, Hanes, Playboy, Levi's, Timberland, Coleman, Comme des Garçons, Stone Island and Champion, there are always collaborations with other brands and artists to develop special accessories and clothing . As a result, other players in the fashion industry are also trying the limited drop model. The New York Times even called 2017 the “year of the drop,” and the trend continues to show no signs of a downturn.
Can fashion products from limited drops also serve as an investment?
20 years ago, nobody would have imagined that luxury items would once be traded on a stock exchange. The latest trend that is causing a sensation all over China is the resale of limited edition sports shoes. It was made possible on internet platforms like StockX and Nice. For example, in the Nice app, sports shoes from the Nike brand, which were designed in collaboration with the US rapper Travis Scott, have been in great demand recently. A pair of Travis Scott x Air Jordan 6 "Medium Olive" fetched 7,770 yuan (€ 1,015), more than 450% more than the retail price of 1,399 yuan (€ 180), while Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 "Cactus Jack" cost 13155 yuan (€ 1720), more than nine times the original price of 1299 yuan (€ 170). Since prices are rising extremely fast in some cases, many customers will now prefer to resell the shoes unopened rather than wear them. Some even claim that it is more exciting for them than buying stocks. The New York-based investment bank Cowen & Co described the luxury fashion trade as an "upcoming alternative asset class". The global resale of sneakers should therefore be worth around $ 6 billion by 2025. China currently accounts for one sixth of this market with a value of over USD 1 billion. In addition to sneakers, StockX also sells bags and accessories that even exceed these prices: Here sellers temporarily charge over 320,000 US dollars for a Chest from a limited drop by Louis Vuitton and Supreme. The last documented sale of this chest was settled at over $ 63,000. The trend of speculation with such fashion products was so great, that in October the People's Bank of China (PBOC) issued a statement with the title "Vigilance against the trend of shoe speculation and prevention of financial risk", that is warning about the use of more than a dozen of Online platforms for speculative purchases.
Each brand has to decide for itself whether limited drops make sense
Just because the Drop culture of limited items has turned some retailers into money machines, it doesn't mean that every brand can and should follow a similar strategy. Drops only make sense if consumers continue to assess the exclusivity and values of the brand as authentic. If it feels forced and unjustified and is not in line with customer values, this approach will quickly fail to achieve its purpose. Luxury lovers appreciate the craftsmanship, tradition, longevity and also the time to consume the product. Luxury brands such as Supreme and Gucci rely on drops to reach a younger, high-income audience, but for other fashion houses, where those values are integral to brand identity, choosing this strategy may result in the loss of many customers. Also consumers who attach great importance to sustainability should not be enthusiastic about this short-lived and over-commercial model. Much depends on how strongly customers adopt a more sustainable attitude and value high-quality and timeless pieces that are likely to become even more beautiful with age and use. For many customers it is also does not make any sense to pay a high price for an article and then not treat themselves with the luxury of using it afterwards.
The fascination of limited editions as inspiration for our work at Wunderkey
At Wunderkey we asked ourselves the question, what we should draw from this new sales phenomenon in the fashion world. For us, the new drop culture has a bitter taste. Many limited editions in the fashion world offer the customer exclusivity, but at the cost of a reasonable sales price that is not based on tradition, craftsmanship and longevity. In addition, from our point of view, the purpose of a luxury product is not fulfilled if the owner buys it as an investment instead of using it and enjoying its beauty and exclusivity.
For this reason, we decided at Wunderkey to give our customers a feeling of exclusivity without forcing an artificial hype. It was clear to us that a limited edition of our Wunderkeys should not go hand in hand with an unjustifiably high price. This is exactly how our special edition, limited to 500 copies, was created. The Wunderkey Tangerine is made from the finest leather in fine orange in our German manufactory. Every Wunderkey is provided with an individual serial number. Due to the longevity of our Wunderkeys, we are sure that the serial number engraved on the leather will remind our customers, even after many years of use, that they are part of a limited and exclusive group with a special sense for Fashion. What are you waiting for? Bring exclusivity to your keychain with a Wunderkey - Because Exclusivity is Key.