Welcome back, everyone!
Hypebeast 4x/year, Hong Kong, began 2012 (blog begun 2005)
Hypebeast is a great example of changing media culture. In contrast to say, everything Conde Nast publishes, this title began life as a blog. In 2005, editor/creator Kevin Ma put up a website to collect posts about limited edition sneakers. He was a college student in Vancouver at the time, and wanted to talk about sneakers he saw on the market, or had bought himself. As the company expanded, the print version we subscribe to was one of his experiments.
As it grew, the site expanded from its sneaker focus to address the sneaker-mania’s larger culture: it talked about hip-hop, street fashion, skate boarding, and street art. Ma’s fortunate timing placed the website at the intersection of a growing international online culture, and the development of web-based product sales.
Hypebeast grew by being a knowledgeable and enthusiastic conduit between sneaker companies and their most passionate consumers. This has enabled the company to expand into a global media company with video and radio components as well. His choice of Hong Kong location also keeps his workshop near the active Japanese market as well as with sneaker designer/collaborators in China to work with factories there. Nonetheless, Ma says that 40-50% of his market remains American.
The title remains youth oriented, but maintains its skate-board/hip-hop/active sportswear culture. Sneakers remain center stage and have a lot of advertorial space. Despite Ma’s description of the site as “contemporary menswear” focused, there is a women’s fashion page, called Hypebae, alongside music and forums pages.
The site and print versions include a lot of thoughtful celebrity interviews. The fashion is both hip-hop- and normcore- influenced. The print edition embodies youth’s fascination with things that look handmade and contemplative despite extreme stylization, mechanical reproduction and control.