Come the first weekend in October, Brooklyn will be even more inundated with fashion kids than usual, thanks to Hypebeast, which is launching its first festival.
The aptly named “Hypefest” sounds like a culmination of the popular and profitable street style Web site’s ethos, by bringing together somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 fans and dozens of brands and advertisers (the event will be ticketed and sponsored) for two days of shopping, music, art demonstrations, panels and surely some showing off, at a yet-to-be named venue.
“We’re trying to create an experience for different people and fans,” Kevin Ma, founder and chief executive of Hypebeast, said. “Anyone can come, we just want to provide a platform for people to be inspired.”
Inspiration might be on hand, but there’s no escaping the fact that media brands are increasingly turning to events and festivals as a new revenue stream. More and more outlets are hosting yearly events, if not even more often, with ticket sales and sponsorships bringing in cash as traditional advertising continues its decline. The New Yorker Festival, going on since 1999, is actually the same weekend as Hypefest, although the chances of audience cannibalization between the two seems unlikely.
For now, Ma is mum on who exactly will be speaking at Hypefest, but Colette founder Sarah Andelman is on the festival committee, as is Hiroshi Fujiwara, the musician and designer who’s a frequent collaborator with brands like Louis Vuitton, Apple and Nike, among others. Brands that will be participating in one way or another include A-Cold-Wall, Ambush, Heron Preston, Awake, Rimowa and Girls Don’t Cry, to name a few. Sponsors so far include major brands like Adidas, Puma, Shopify and even Marc Jacobs.
Ma admitted that he wants his new festival to be “a sustainable event where our partners and clients will be able to participate in a kind of cultural moment and get more exposure,” but he also hopes that “people will learn something” from attending.
“At the end of the day, brands are created by people, artists are people and we want to create a platform for people to express whatever it is they want to express,” Ma said.
But Hypefest isn’t set to be a one-off or something that was done haphazardly. The site, which also has an agency arm and an e-commerce platform, does a lot of work directly with brands and has tested the appetite for a physical iteration of Hypebeast over the last year. There have been a couple of pop-ups, there was a party in April for Hypebeast magazine, there was a party at Art Basel for the Hypebeast 100, the site’s list of influential industry folk, and “a lot of people came” to all, according to Ma. Although he seems to be ticking off all the revenue boxes for a digital brand, Ma doesn’t speak like a digital master. There’s no talk of “penetration,” “metrics” or even “uniques” and he claims that his agenda with the site was never “let’s reach this young crowd, or anything like that.”
Instead, Ma wanted Hypebeast to be about what’s cool and he wants Hypefest to be the same thing, which he expects to set it apart from all the other media-led festivals.
“There are all of these events around, there are a lot of magazines and publications out there, but this is our take on what we feel is really cool,” Ma said. “Like, the more events the better, because people can learn about different aspects of the world.”
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