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Chasing the Allure of Streetwear Brand Anti Social Social Club

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Chasing the Allure of Streetwear Brand Anti Social Social Club

nti Social Social Club made an instant splash in 2015 when it debuted on Twitter, creating waves in the crowded Los Angeles streetwear market. Founded by Andrew Buenaflor, better known as Neek Lurk, ASSC first served as an emotional outlet for his mental health struggles. Unexpectedly, the brand quickly gained influential fans like Ye West, Kim Kardashian and the popular Korean pop group BTS, all spotted wearing ASSC gear shortly after it launched. The brand soared to global fame by 2016, consistently selling out its online store whenever it dropped new products.

It's enduring popularity on the fashion scene can be attributed to fans’ unwavering attention to its designs, provocative messages and artwork on its products. However, like many notable streetwear brands, ASSC has faced its share of turbulence, struggling to keep up with consumer demand for its products.

The Back Back Story

Born and raised in Las Vegas, Neek Lurk first earned a fashion following by posting WDYWT (What Did You Wear Today) photos on NikeTalk forums and other social media sites. His unique look, featuring poofy hair, graphic t-shirts and skinny jeans, caught the attention of many. He scored a part-time job at Stüssy in Las Vegas, quickly moving up the ranks and relocating to Los Angeles to work as the sportswear brand’s social media director and manager in 2014.

After a painful breakup in 2014, the glimmerings of ASSC emerged. Neek Lurk channeled his feelings into a dad cap with the phrase “I Miss You” on the front and the Anti Social Social Club logo above the right ear. In the beginning of 2015, he crafted 12 t-shirts featuring that same logo. Then, he generated a Photoshop t-shirt mockup of that design, shared that image online and successfully sold all the shirts.

Neek Lurk continued creating his melancholic statement tees and hats for close friends, but the pieces had started resonating with buyers throughout L.A. An unexpected surge of hype propelled ASSC to the front of the streetwear stage, thanks to West, who stepped out wearing an ASSC hoodie three weeks after the brand's launch.

Star Endorsements

Two million visitors a week swarmed the small ASSC shop hosted on the Big Cartel platform. The frenzy only escalated after Kardashian wore an “I Miss You” cap at New York Fashion Week, and celebrities like Travis Scott, Rita Ora, Cara Delevingne, G-Dragon, and more joined the ASSC club.

Fans quickly learned Neek Lurk liked to use slogans, sayings and quotes to express his moods on both his personal and ASSC’s Instagram accounts – and also teased collection drops and other quirky happenings. In 2016, for example, people tooling around Hollywood were created by a cryptic billboard: the words “I STILL FEEL THE SAME” and ASSC branding in white text over a pink background.

In 2016, ASSC launched its first pop-up shop in Los Angeles, featuring the giant painted words “Get Weird,” taken as the brand’s nod to self-acceptance. Fans didn’t mind waiting in long lines to buy the brand’s in-demand hoodies in person. After that, Neek Lurk saw value in creating collabs and capsule collections with retailers like RSVP Gallery, streetwear brands like BAPE, BTS, Hello Kitty, Honda, Playboy, Hot Wheels, Gran Turismo and more, earning ASSC even more prestige and hype.

The Cool, the Bad and the Ugly

ASSC’s enduring success among streetwear enthusiasts can be attributed to its distinctive approach to, well, almost everything. Unlike other brands, who may typically focus on racing towards becoming the hottest fashion brand out there, ASSC marches to its own beat, cocooning a much-needed space for people who experience isolation, loneliness and depression.

The brand skillfully blends its big, bold logo with vibrant colors, melancholic phrases like “Self-Doubt,” “Give me happiness gives me pain,” and “Get Weird.” It also adds in modern, minimalist graphics across its product line, spanning tees, hoodies, accessories and random hard goods. Unlike other in-demand streetwear labels, ASSC clothing costs about $70 a piece and is printed on blank Gildan apparel, making it more affordable for many buyers.

The brand doesn’t follow the usual marketing and sales conventions either, starting with a spare website that doesn’t list much product information. ASSC releases new designs that take inspiration from Neek Lurk’s personal experiences with manic and depressive states, infusing a unique and emotional dimension into its genderless products. Fans don’t look for seasonal collections, but instead watch ASSC’s website or Instagram for teased drops, which can include up to 100 items that go beyond apparel – For example, the brand has released frisbees, umbrellas, ashtrays and even rice cookers with an ASSC logo.

Shipping Woes

However, customers rarely received their orders on time – even waiting up to a year – or in good shape. There was no customer service recourse, except to complain vigorously on the brand’s Instagram with the #wheresmyhoodiebro hashtag. In 2017, Hypebeast reported that ASSC hadn’t delivered merch to more than 1,320 customers, with an average order value of $380, totalling nearly half a million dollars. Yet, in typical fashion, Neek Lurk responded by glibly dropping an “Eye Hate Neek” tee in the brand’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection – and fans ate it up.

Despite facing a moment where the mainstream streetwear scene appeared to ‘forget’ about ASSC by 2019, the brand continues to thrive as ASSC’s drops consistently sell out instantly, maintaining its FOMO popularity. In May 2022, Marquee Brands acquired ASSC for an undisclosed amount, marking a significant milestone for the brand.

International Appeal

ASSC’s influence extends beyond the United States, particularly in Asia, where the brand has cultivated a dedicated following. Collaborations with Japanese streetwear labels such as BAPE and Hysteric Glamour, partnerships with Filipino fast-food chain Jollibee and BTS, along with an exclusive Ed Hardy collection for the Chinese market, showcase ASSC’s global reach.

In addition to its online sales, fans can score ASSC apparel through various channels. Somewhat ironically, Urban Outfitters, a mass-market American mall chain, serves as one of the primary platforms for reaching a broader audience. Resellers, like Sole Stage, also contribute to the availability of ASSC gear, both online and in physical stores, across key locations like New York, Los Angeles and Beijing.

ASSC’s Continued Influence and Evolution

Despite ongoing customer grumbling about delays and its unconventional approach to marketing, Anti Social Social Club remains a pivotal player in the streetwear scene, maintaining its influence through much-anticipated collection drops and collabs with notable brands.=

2022 witnessed ASSC’s launch of Y2K-themed apparel and the “Stunned” collection, a captivating array of casual pieces. From camouflage to yellow tie-dye, the t-shirts and sweatpants featured graphic logos with butterflies, Japanese Kanji lettering, hearts, flowers, tribal symbols, bold cherry blossoms and vintage L.A. maps. This diverse collection included duffle bags, balaclavas, socks, notepads, toll boxes, foldable crates, mini cones and glow sticks.

Last year, the “Let it Go” collection dropped in spring, characterized by animated and vibrant pieces printed with familiar graphics: cherry blossoms, a tie-dye window cityscape and a large eyeball. The apparel ranged from subtle two-tone orange/black hoodies and bold all-black pieces with airbrushed pink stains and cherry blossoms.

Complemented by woodland camo anoraks and unique accessories such as plush sushi slippers and shipping container tissue box covers, this collection reflects ASSC’s commitment to innovation. In 2023, ASSC also collaborated with Hiroshi Fujiawara’s fragment design for the third time, unveiling 33 jackets, hoodies, sweaters, tees and other items embellished with three unique graphics blending the two logos.

Anti Social Social Club continues to stay relevant on the streetwear scene, as it shapes the industry through imaginative collections and meaningful collabs. ASSC dropped its newest collection, “Lothario” in mid-January, with sweetly smiling cherubs, retro hearts and ASSC branding in pink text, with the message to fans, “Yes, you’ll receive in time for Valentine’s Day.”

Jan 21, 2024
S&S Activewear
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