Perspectiva de Maria
On the weekend of October 6-7, thousands of streetwear lovers, I included, went on down to the Brooklyn Navy Yard where the first ever HYPEFEST was being held. Immediately I thought oh shit, this is going to be interesting. When HYPEBEAST announced they are hosting their own festival, I couldn’t help but think if this was a response to ComplexCon. As someone who attended the first ComplexCon in 2016, I wonder if this was going to measure up. The concept of translating that digital impact onto an analog space is not easy and though ComplexCon overwhelmed me, the hype was real, in my opinion. Anyways, I was excited to see the HYPEBEAST platform come to life.
I arrived with one of my homegirls at the check in line and shortly, we were directed to wait in another line for a shuttle bus to transport us to the entrance. A huge chrome sign reading HYPE FEST and giant marble-like balloons greeted us. Though it was a gloomy New York day, the attendees colorful clout-fits brightened up the area. We made our way into one of the 2 warehouses hosting dozens of brands like ACRONYM, Girls Don’t Cry, No Vacancy Inn, Aimé Leon Dore, Japanese brand The Conveni, Chitose Abe’s Sacai and a cluster of other brands catering to the HYPEBEAST consumer.
Now, the HB audience has expanded in the recent years since their women’s editorial division, HYPEBAE, launched. Glancing around the area, I didn’t see any booths featuring women-owned brands other than Sacai, although I did see women run some of the booths. There was also one Hype Talk featuring female panelists like Emily Oberg and Aleali May, but still, it didn’t feel like that was enough.
Perhaps I had high expectations, but I was disappointed in not seeing enough female representation. It made me feel that although the industry has begun to realize that we are here, present and are a vital part of the consumer scope, we are still being excluded from cultural moments like these. It’s honestly a conversation that I’m tired of having — the need for proper representation in these spaces, pointing out that black and brown women should be booked for streetwear campaigns, the support women need to strive in streetwear, the list goes on.
Still, I managed to make the best of my time there. I had a disposable film camera from Manual Photo on hand and I managed to photograph some pretty cool women wearing coveted brands like Nike, Gucci, Off-White, Chanel and more. It was great to see women channel their femininity while dressed in men's clothing; let’s be real, we look good doing it.
It was a unique atmosphere; in hopes of not dealing with long lines and the chaos that comes with exclusive streetwear drops, HYPEFEST provided an in-app shopping experience for its attendees. No lugging around bags of merchandise around the buildings, no need to wait in line to cop the Off-White x Rimowa collaboration. A simple click of a button and the product is yours. HF’s intention behind this was to encourage attendees to connect with the brands. Something was missing though. Don’t get me wrong — it was great walking into these buildings filled with some of streetwear’s hottest brands and not seeing anyone trample amongst each other to buy stuff. It’s like it wasn’t… hype.
In today’s age, streetwear is contingent on commotion, so seeing this sort of ‘peacefulness’ play out was interesting to say the least. A couple of my friends felt underwhelmed, some didn’t stay long; others genuinely had a good time. I took the time to catch up with people I haven’t seen in a while and meeting Instagram friends for the first time in real life.
All in all, I’m looking forward to the festival’s progression in the coming years.