Hypebeast has joined the ranks of media companies getting into the content creation game. Its new global creative studio, Hypemaker, is slated to do creative development for a wide-range of industries.
The streetwear media company, founded by Kevin Ma in his college dorm room twelve years ago, has evolved over the years into a publishing umbrella focused on youth culture — its other properties include Hypebae, Popbee and an e-commerce platform called HBX.
Today, the company boasts an aggregated reach of over 7 million unique visitors and a cross-platform social following of over 10 billion. It intends to harness that audience, along with its extensive industry relationships, which range from Adidas to Pusha T, to help brands regain the cultural relevance it feels they are lacking. (Hypebeast executives were unavailable for comment.)
Hypebeast might seem a little late to the game, as far as blurring the lines of publishing and marketing goes — BuzzFeed, PopSugar and Refinery29 are just a handful of other media companies that now create content for brands — but it has been working towards this on a smaller scale for a while. Previous collaborations with brands include the design of two 20th anniversary editions of New Balance’s famed 580 sneakers and the curation of an exclusive preview event for the launch of Adidas’ NMD model.
And, despite the saturation of content creation studios, Hypeneast may still have an advantage with the increasingly less niche streetwear fandom, whose membership has grown in step with a rising interest in men’s fashion and the hype surrounding brands like Yeezy and Supreme. Today, according to the company, that cohort looks predominantly male, is 18 to 30 years old, and has the one-two punch of digital savvy and disposable income.
“These [publishers] have strong, cross-channel followings built on earned authority in their categories so it’s natural for them to get into the content game. For one, they can offer this loyal audience to the brand and even sell implied endorsement,” said Ken Kraemer, the CEO of content creation and distribution offering at Moment Studio, a part of Engine Group. “Further, they can lend their proven voice to a brand that needs credibility with a particular audience, [while also] creating more impressions on their properties.”
Hypemaker will go beyond fashion. This summer, Hypebeast worked with Ikea to produce a video showcasing the design of an “ideal sneakerhead bedroom.” Naturally, this involved a slew of products from Ikea’s minimalist catalog, including its touchstone Kallax and Vittsjö shelves. The video has attracted nearly 500,000 views.
“It certainly was a lot more powerful than if we had run a regular Ikea ad and much more powerful than if we had created something on our own that tried to talk to the sneaker audience or young male audience,” said Chet Fenster, a managing partner and head of content at MEC.
In effect, the current Hypebeast content already reads like a slew of advertisements. Nearly every post on the site today highlights a sole brand in the title, ranging from Nike to Tesla to the upstart brand Wayward. Its audience is used to buying what Hypebeast is selling — that’s why they come to them and HBX in the first place — and now, with Hypemaker, you could argue the company is simply buying back some of what’s been, until now, voluntarily sold.