It's Too Late For Anti Social Social Club to Pull a Stüssy

Anti Social Social Club had it all. For a few short years, the streetwear brand was on top of industry, equaling and arguably even surpassing old guard labels like Supreme in demand. Now, Anti Social Social Club is sold at Urban Outfitters. What happened?

ASSC’s fall presents a fascinating case study in streetwear brands that fly too close to the sun.

But, rather than falling down to earth, ASSC is actually still as hot as ever. It’s just that there’s a totally different audience buying it these days.

Founded in 2015 by Neek Lurk, Anti Social Social Club quickly rocketed to fame when Kanye “Ye” West was seen wearing an ASSC hoodie a few weeks after it was created. By 2016, ASSC was the biggest name in the biz.

Just a few years later, though, ASSC was on the rocks. It couldn’t handle the demand. Products were slow to ship out, if they did at all.

To say that ASSC and its fans had a contentious relationship is to put it mildly. And it probably didn’t help that Lurk’s Instagram was dedicated to flexing his new Lamborghinis.

Anti Social Social Club was all but forgotten by the greater streetwear culture by 2019 or so.

The thing is, it’s still around and it’s still moving units.

Everything ASSC drops sells out these days continues to instantly sell out, whether that’s a T-shirt printed with Martha Stewart eating lobster or an inexplicable team-up with American chicken chain Raising Cane’s.

That Martha Stewart shirt may not be so random, actually: in 2022, ASSC was acquired by for an unspecified sum by Marquee Brands, a conglomerate that owns the licenses for brands like BCBG Max Azria and Stewart’s namesake product line.

It’s far more strange that folks continue to buy Anti Social Social Club at all, really, considering that every post on its Instagram is still rife with complaints about delayed shipping.

Something about that big, bold logo makes ASSC inherently appealing, though, especially to younger shoppers.

There’s a reason it gets parodied enough to justify multiple ASSC logo generators.

ASSC also caters to a especially devoted audience in Asia: it’s collaborated with Japanese streetwear brands like BAPE and Hysteric Glamour, Filipino fast-food chain Jollibee, K-pop juggernauts BTS, and even devised a China-exclusive Ed Hardy collection.

Even Highsnobiety, the site you’re reading right now, once called Anti Social Social Club the “most Asian-American streetwear brand around.”

“[ASSC] speaks to the Asian condition,” Brain Dead founder Kyle Ng said. “You’re anti-social social! It’s those kids on message boards wearing Supreme, but they’re also very quiet and shy.”

And now Anti Social Social Club is sold by Urban Outfitters, one of the most mass-market American mall retailers.

It’s an interesting place to find a brand that still boasts complete sell-through on drops.

Then again, Fear of God’s red-hot ESSENTIALS sub-label can still be found at PacSun so there’s some precedence there.

Thing is, ESSENTIALS has the cool factor afforded to it by being related to still-relevant Fear of God. Anti Social Social Club doesn’t have that luxury.

Let’s sidetrack for a second.

Not that long ago — really, around the time that Anti Social Social Club was at the top of the heap — Stüssy could be found at Zumiez, a teen-friendly store that populates American malls. At the time, Stüssy wasn’t edgy, it wasn’t especially cool, and it certainly wasn’t exclusive.

However, the privately-held Stüssy began turning things around by 2019 or so, when a behind-the-scenes collective of tastemakers that includes Tremaine Emory and Stop It Right Now’s Jayne Goheen began guiding Stüssy to greater and greater stylistic heights.

Stüssy is now once again the biggest fish in the pond, perhaps an even bigger deal than Supreme (at least as far as the TikTok set goes). Not coincidentally, both Supreme and Stüssy count tastemaking retailer Dover Street Market as their sole third-party stockist.

But, again, that’s not a path Anti Social Social Club can follow.

ASSC doesn’t have the pedigree of Stüssy, for one — there’s no International ASSC Tribe — and it’s stretched itself too thin to carry any cultural clout, if it ever had any.

From where I’m sitting, a comeback story seems unlikely. Too many collaborations, too many repeat products, too little substance.

Plenty of money, sure, but no soul. That’s ASSC in a nutshell.

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