What started off as a passion project for founder Alex Ropes and editor in chief Euan Smart has snowballed into a platform catching the ears of Millennials and Gen Zs alike, and a resource to check pricing and product authenticity.
“We then developed into a business by working with agencies and brands. We’ve done three Nike shoes, as well three New Balance ones with more in the pipeline,” said Smart, and they’ve been met with success thanks to The Basement’s community.
Ropes and Smart came together after bonding over creating something that was representative of young people. Smart was editorial manager at premium streetwear retailer End, and Ropes ran youth charities and started his own shoelace company, which was the first external brand to be stocked by Nike.
“It’s a combination of commercial experience and understanding the sneaker culture combined heavily with third-sector charitable background, which makes The Basement a company that has social missions and ambitions not just making money and putting out cool s–t, if it doesn’t add value or purpose to our community of young people then we’re not interested, either,” said Ropes. That ethos has helped catapult the brand into a tight-knit hub.
While the fashion and media industry moves forward with digitization, The Basement is taking a different approach by stepping back into traditional media and launching a print magazine.
“We decided it was a good time to move into a different media property to give a voice to people who may traditionally be excluded from having a voice in print or a traditional media landscape,” said Smart, who still believes that there’s a permanence to print that isn’t available online.
Smart and Ropes consulted their growing community before starting the project. Their core demographic is 16- to 24-year olds.
The feedback they received from their members was that they all wanted content that was longer form and more traditional as opposed to 15 second reels and TikTok videos.
None of the names in the debut issue are recognizable to media insiders — instead, they are all community members who have pitched in to create the larger than A4 magazine with the brand name in gloss.
The Basement’s goal is to reach young people, but not to dictate new trends to them. When Smart and Ropes looked at what was missing from the print market, they found that magazine covers were being predominantly shot by established photographers or their offsprings, which they feel has caused a knock on effect for free labor within the fashion industry.
The pair made it a priority to pay every contributor in the magazine, which is more than 230 pages with two double spreads dedicated to young brands that were not able to afford advertising.
The features inside the magazine cover topics from colonialism, to spotlighting members of the community, to interviews with creatives, including Cole Buxton of UVU, a young luxury sportswear label, and Hector Dockrill, the director of Post Malone’s documentary “Runaway.”
The Basement is working to move away from Facebook and launch its own platform, which is in its beta stages.
On Facebook, they have more than 150,000 members and counting with a firm waiting list.
Joining The Basement is the equivalent of waiting for an Hermès Birkin bag in the streetwear world — with some users waiting around two years until they’re accepted, but it’s not because the founders want to be gatekeepers.
Smart and Ropes checklist each member and ask them a series of questions before letting them into the community with a strict policy for no racism, sexism, homophobia or trolling.
The Basement, like its name, wants to stay put with its core audience — and there’s always space — but the price to pay is patience.