A couple of weeks ago, while you were probably busy staring at sneakers and girls on Tumblr ( I definitely was ), the FCC made a huge decision in favor of something called “net neutrality”; reclassifying the internet as a utility to keep it a democratic place where the talented and talentless can seemingly gain fame overnight. Before I say anything else, watch this hilariously informative video from John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” that perfectly explains net neutrality.
Long story short, the FCC basically prevented big businesses from owning the internet; which is a huge win for humanity in general, especially the independent side of the fashion industry. Last year, over $56 billion in revenue was generated from online apparel and accessories sales in the US; most of which went to large corporations. However nowadays, anybody can start a clothing brand online selling screen-printed t-shirts, hoodies, and the occasional crewneck; breaking down age old barriers that existed in the fashion industry and giving young fashion entrepreneurs access to that big pool of money. The FCC’s decision will make sure that the fledgling brands have access to the same internet speeds as the big businesses; and if the music industry is any indication of how powerful the internet is, the next Ralph Lauren might be selling screen printed hoodies through a bigcartel site right now.
The internet completely changed the independent hip-hop industry from an underground bloodsport into an overwhelming sea of rappers mixed in with genre-bending standouts. As a result, the definition of the word “mixtape” has been modified to fit the changing hip-hop culture; and a similar shift is happening in the fashion industry. Basic clothing lines are most people’s first attempt at selling anything besides lemonade and Girl Scout cookies (shout out to the Girl Scouts though…they know how to move product); and much like mixtapes, there’s no instruction manual or formula for success. Regardless, the internet has given anyone and everyone a shot at becoming the next thing; and that opportunity will create competition that should bring out the best in the next generation of fashion entrepreneurs.
Remember, Virgil Abloh started Pyrex screen-printing on old Ralph Lauren gear and re-selling them for hundreds of dollars. Now he’s LVMH’s 2015 Young Designer’s Prize winner and the creative director of Kanye’s company. So go out and support your local screen-printing indie fashion designer. You never know who they might turn into.
(If you think you know who they might turn into, let us know in the comments)