Throughout the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, students flaunt their individual styles. From thrifty creativity to luxury labels, finding one’s style is all a part of coming of age, but it can come with a hefty price tag.
Whether it be to fit in, to stand out, or simply to express oneself, labels play a huge role in the American fashion industry. A touch of brand name clothing or accessories can change a mundane outfit to a trendy, edgy one. Though these high fashion brands can be costly, students are finding ways to accomplish this while raising their fashion status.
Over the years, brand culture at MSD has steadily increased. With the growing popularity of brands such as Gucci, Supreme, Adidas and Louis Vuitton, it seems as though the more “high-end” an outfit is, the more appealing it is to many students.
According to a study of 300 adults by Psychology Today, after just three seconds, people will judge others based on their outfits. After being shown a few images of various men in both tailored and non-tailored suits, study participants generally rated the men wearing a tailored suit as more confident, successful, flexible and higher earning.
“For me personally, designer clothes are more out there with their designs. Whatever basic item your find at Pacsun isn’t going to stand out as much as a design brand,” senior Kerry Lin said. “It also has to do with self confidence. Wearing clothes from high brand companies like Gucci or Supreme really makes a statement.”
However, these popular brands can be very expensive. Many students can find it difficult affording these lavish items. One such example would be a $1,200 Balenciaga jacket, that Lin bought for the “clout.” Clout is a term often affiliated with fame, money and influence, traits that students want to have in order to set them apart from their peers.
As a solution to keep up with expensive trends, junior Max Wolfman has gone into the business of buying and selling items such as sneakers. By reselling shoes for profit, he is able to afford sneakers that he wants to wear. Wolfman has been doing this for the past seven years.
“My sneaker business started in sixth grade when I got a pair of Jordan 4 Toros. I saw the Jordans in the store and really wanted them,” Wolfman said. “However, I didn’t have enough money for them so I thought maybe if I bought two pairs [of regular sneakers] and then sold one of them at a higher price, with that extra money, it would be enough for the shoes I wanted. This ended up working, and I was able to buy the shoes.”
What goes on throughout the halls of MSD regarding the business of buying and reselling sneakers is only a glimpse into the rest of the world. According to Niche Pursuits, the sneaker resale market is valued around $1 billion.
The first step in selling shoes, is to find to a proper website to sell it on. Many sellers prefer websites such as GOAT or Stock X, both website made to market sneakers from an electronic device. It is important to take various angles of the shoe, so that the buyer knows what they are receiving. Then, the seller would add a description of the shoe, including how old the shoe is, size, if the shoe has been worn already and price. Prices of the shoes can vary depending on the model, its authenticity and popularity. Shoes can be valued anywhere from $100 to $500 more than the original price.
“Over the years, I have probably sold $4,000 worth of shoes… I look at it as a future investment,” Wolfman said. “The money in my pocket can be used to buy more shoes and make more money.”
Students at MSD are attracted to popular brands, especially when they see their favorite celebrity wear the brand. Teens can identify themselves with various celebrities that they enjoy. For instance, someone who listens to Kanye West, might prefer to wear his signature, expensive “Yeezy shoes” for the sole reason that Kanye West makes and wears them.
“Students are absolutely influenced by celebrities and influencers like sports stars,” Wolfman said. “Anyone who is trying something new, for the most part, is influenced by someone who they saw try it first. Right now the most current influencers are Kanye West, Travis Scott, Odell Beckham Jr and Virgil Aldro, the creator of all white.”
These upscale brands can give students the illusion of a glamorous and rich lifestyle.
“Many people believe that by wearing brands such as Supreme or Gucci stereotypes the person as wealthier to other people. However I do think that’s the stereotype; I don’t necessarily agree with it,” Wolfman said. “ It means something to them, whether they received it as a gift from their parents or if it’s something they worked very hard for, and not everyone should be judged just based upon what they wear.”
Every student has their own style and flair which could be inspired by celebrities or the newest fashion trends. Though it may be an expensive lifestyle, teens identify themselves by what they wear, which is how the world perceives them.
“I feel everyone likes to express themselves, especially in a way personal to them,” Wolfman said. “Clothing is the best way to do that.”
This story was originally published in the January 2019 Eagle Eye print edition.