Australia’s online ‘streetwear’ movement

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 Serena Williams wears a pair of highly prized Air Jordan 1 sneakers in March. 

By NICKOLAS ZAKHARIA

More than 100,000 Australians are forking out large sums of money on designer-label clothing in private social media “marketplaces” such as the Facebook group Underground Society.

The online marketplace, which targets millennials, specialises in buying, swapping and selling high-end clothing from brands such as Raf Simons and Yeezy.

Underground Society founder Revan Oluklu, a Monash student,  said he never expected the group to reach its current popularity when it was first created in 2016.

“Not in my wildest dreams did I expect to reach 100,000 members,” he said.

Air Jordan sneakers command a high price tag.

“The group grew so quickly due to word of mouth, which broadened the demographic to include things such as sneaker culture.

“I think if we went back and watched the trajectory, the current member count wouldn’t be so much of a surprise.”

Mr Oluklu, 20, said “status and braggadocio” was part of the reason why people were interested in buying expensive streetwear.

“Exorbitant prices are indeed backed up by the superior quality.”

“I’ve seen archive Raf Simons outerwear pieces from anywhere between $4000 [to] $20,000.”

A common practice in streetwear culture is to buy exclusively released apparel and resell it at a higher price.

Nike Air Jordan basketball shoes were advertised in the group’s marketplace for more than six times the original $270 price.

Mr Oluklu said there were both positive and negative effects of reselling purchased goods.

Revan Oluklu

“Reselling makes the items far more easily accessible for those with the means and intention to pay [more].”

“Fashion is art. People spend a lot of [money] on art in all its forms.”

Underground Society member David Tavian said celebrity rappers influenced him to wear expensive clothing.

“They all wear expensive clothes so I guess it really came from there,” he said.

“[Celebrities] are in the spotlight so they’re everyone’s role model. Whatever brand they’re promoting is obviously going to affect everyone else.”

The 19-year-old said his interest in buying high-priced streetwear was “a youthful thing” affected by living expenses.

“As I’m getting a bit older and I’m getting more bills, I don’t have the urge to buy new clothes,” he said.

“It will get even worse over time when I have kids and no spare money for myself.”

Mr Tavian said he spent $180 on a T-shirt from Underground Society, which was more than double the original retail price. Garments are commonly bought from the group via PayPal or in-person meetups.

“I don’t earn money just to save and not spend it, life’s too short,” Mr Tavian said. “Why die with $1 million in my bank account if I’m not there to enjoy and spend it?”