$9,000 sneakers? $1,700 sweatshirts? These are a couple of the clothing prices at the local urban street wear shop Piff. Located in the Como area near the University of Minnesota campus, Piff is run by long-time buddies Bill Crubaugh and Ben Alberts, graduates of the University of St Thomas. Piff opened its doors a few years ago but has gotten a lot of spotlight as of late.
For starters, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stephon Diggs has been spotted at the luxury clothing shop on multiple occasions. He has even endorsed Piff on his Instagram as one of his favorite Minneapolis shopping spots. This might be because Diggs has a taste for the pop culture clout that some of the brands sold at Piff represent, or maybe it is because of the secret backroom where higher spending customers get to shop for exclusive gear.
The shop moved to the new location near campus recently, but you would assume most college students wouldn’t be the first to jump at thousand-dollar clothing items. When talking to University of Minnesota student and streetwear consumer Sam Schaefer, he disagreed. “I’m sure many of their customers are collectors who appreciate the value of the clothes,but I buy the Supreme brand because the design of the clothes is unique and because of the exclusivity of the brand.”
Another reason for the shop’s recent success and attention is the cultural phenomena that surround its influential and expensive brands such as Supreme, A Bathing Ape (Bape), Yeezy, and Off-White. For example, Supreme was founded in 1994 with the intention of marketing to the skateboarding community. Today,largely because of the adoption from celebrities and luxury clothing seekers, Supremes’ popularity has skyrocketed, and so has the demand.
One of the reasons for this high demand is that Supreme puts its clothing into the market through drops or daily releases via its website. Each specific product is limited and when people are lucky enough to get their hands on them, they are able to resell for a higher price. Therefore, companies such as Supreme have an almost ideal situation in terms of supply and demand.
This limited supply of products from online drops led many entrepreneurial-minded people to see an opportunity for buying and re-selling the products from these brands. Many of these people program “bots” that purchase products as soon as they are dropped. These bots lead to unbelievable returns for the program creators and make getting your hands on the street wear even more difficult. The market for resale is now well over $1 billion dollars.
It is interesting to consider the legal gray area that many people have brought up concerning the use of bots in purchasing luxury street wear. In 2016, due to the increasing difficulty for people to obtain tickets to events such as concerts and sporting games, President Obama signed the Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016. This made it illegal for programmers to create bots for purchasing tickets to such entertainment events.
As of now, there is no federal law preventing people from obtaining street wear, but companies have taken steps to prevent people from doing so. For example, Adidas has created an app that essentially allows a person to purchase the brand’s exclusive items when they drop but then requires visiting a store to pick them up.
Piff has seemingly been crushing both the online and brick-and-mortar markets. The shop has been able to get inventory by buying used items but still great-conditioned products from people who want to sell their items or trade Piff for a new item. This marketing strategy works perfectly for brands such as Supreme and shops such as Piff because one of the major aspects of these companies is the lifestyle and community behind them. The buying, selling, trading, and overall exclusivity of the products makes marketing an authentic and natural process.
After an influx of capital from a local investor and University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management alumnus Brian Slipka of True North Equity Partners, it seems that Piff’s next move is to further enhance an online presence and create additional apps for customers and suppliers.