Making UK history
How the British brand Corteiz shut down brands like Supreme in one weekend
How culture is made
With streetwear brands popping up left and right, creating a culture surrounding your own brand isn’t guaranteed. Not for Corteiz though: The British streetwear label has created serious hype surrounding itself and its founder Clint. Co-signed by the late Virgil Abloh, Corteiz seems to do everything right.
The best example for that was their recent “Bolo Exchange” project. The brand and friends shut down West London when they invited fans and followers to take part in the event which amassed hundreds of streetwear connoisseurs.
The thing was a tremendous success. Minutes after announcing where the exchange was happening, everybody showed up. Clint invited his potential customers for a swapping project: If you want a “Bolo jacket”, a new puffer jacket by the brand, you can simply swap it out for one of your old puffers. But only if it’s an authentic one from a corporate brand like Supreme, The North Face and the likes.
As the vlogger Darnell described it, Clint was taking north faces off the streets and replacing them with Bolo jackets. People were happily giving away their (expensive!) North Face, Stussy, Moncler, NOCTA and Supreme puffers for a model by Corteiz.
And just like that, he made his brand even more present than it already is. Instead of wearing your streetwear classics, hundreds of kids are currently running around with a bolo puffer. And the city is taking notes.
But why did they give away their beloved jackets? And how does Clint utilize his powers to influence the youth?
Ticking all the boxes
Corteiz is already pretty established in the London streetwear scene – if you’re a young Londoner that likes street fashion, you definitely know the brand. Just like many other of his peers, Clint started his brand in 2017 in his bedroom with printed shirts and crewnecks. Over the course of the years, the brand has reached the masses with celebrities like Slowthai, Jorja Smith, Central Cee and Virgil Abloh rocking Clint’s pieces.
Corteiz sets itself apart from big streetwear brands like supreme in many aspects. The brand only advertises through social media and doesn’t do influencer marketing. They have a private Insta and have a very ‘anti-establishment’ attitude. Clint did his first event in 2019, where he gave away 50 t-shirts and made people chase him for some new pieces. He discourages people from reselling and emphasises his fans to actually use and cherish his clothing.
His pieces and his attitude are all about London and keeping your circle small and authentic. Only the real ones can get a Corteiz piece – meaning that as an owner of Corteiz clothing, you’re automatically cool. Clint doesn’t seem to care too much about making big sales. The demand is definitely there, but Corteiz is far from being a ‘sell-out’.
It’s unapologetically streetwear. It’s authentic and community-driven. Corteiz isn’t about pleasing the big players. It’s about creating a new space, culture and community, where people in-the-know are part of a movement that is one of a kind. And by that, it’s growing exponentially.
Being part of a community
This attitude reflects perfectly in his ‘Bolo Exchange’. Clint made it clear that he was only accepting jackets by the streetwear establishment. Jackets by black-owned brands like Places+Faces or Trapstar were not eligible for a swap. It’s a small but important move: Clint decides what’s culture and what is not.
And people care about his opinion. A lot.
Streetwear went from being the anti-fashion movement to just another part of the big players. Which isn’t bad per se. But: Many brands lost their original authenticity in the process. The huge amount of hype-driven drops feel like a cash grab more than anything else for many. By returning to streetwear’s roots, Corteiz is giving the people what they wanted. “Buying from Crtz allows people to feel like they’re part of a community,” explained Sandy Kaur to Vogue Business.
Talking about community: Every jacket that was swapped for a Bolo puffer went to the homeless via a London-based charity.