100 Thieves announced their new "Foundations" collection on Monday.
The new line of clothing includes everything from hats to hoodies to fashion-forward coats. The collection leans heavily on 100 Thieves' iconic Red, White, and Black colors. They also have several pieces in the new collection using a forest green color, that helps add a little splash of something new to 100 Thieves branding.
What is unique about the 100 Thieves Foundations collection isn't so much the designs as the business model itself. According to Monday's announcement, the Foundations collection will be always available going forward. In other words, this isn't a one-time drop — this is their new continuing apparel line.
"Trying to create an entire line of apparel that was always available seemed like a very difficult task," Nadeshot explained. "But we took it day by day, we had a very talented and experienced staff to help shape the vision. That is why I am so excited to announce the beginning of 100 Thieves Foundations."
The decision to make a permanent apparel line offers an interesting alternative to the streetwear drop model that 100 Thieves and many other esports organizations have embraced over the past few years.
Instead of looking to make a quick drop of cool apparel that is available for a few months (or less), 100 Thieves wants to make an iconic line of merchandise that stand the test of time and help leave their stamp on esports and fashion alike.
Could this model challenge the dominance of the streetwear model in esports fashion? While this model won't necessarily end drops, it does point to a new path that esports organizations can take when it comes to producing and selling apparel.
The rise of esports streetwear drop model
Streetwear fashion has been around since the 1970's. It thrived in alternative scenes like punk rock, hip-hop, and skate cultures, always deriving its identity, in part, from a courageous mix of rebellious and casual. Notable hip hop groups like the Rock Steady Crew continue to influence today's streetwear as a style.
While the style has been around for a minute, what is unique about modern streetwear is the way it is sold. Most members of the new streetwear movement release a limited number of luxury clothing items in "drops."
These limited-edition drops boost the exclusivity of each streetwear item, which in turn boosts both the initial price and the after-market value of each product. This model shares similarities to Nike's model of dropping limited runs of sneakers, leading to high after-market values for the limited edition products.
Over the past five years, the streetwear model has really caught on in esports. It makes sense that esports would embrace streetwear as a style, since it goes so well with esports culture. Not only do esports share a demographic with OFF-White, Supreme, and other big streetwear brands, the industry also shares the same sports, hip-hop, and everyday wear influences that form the foundation of Streetwear's appeal.
So exclusive streetwear drops and esports go hand-in-hand.
Esports in the past couple of years especially has fully embraced the limited-edition drop model. This model makes a lot of sense for esports orgs and online creators since there is comparatively less risk in producing smaller drops and selling them piecemeal than there is in attempting to build a consistent ongoing line of apparel that you must market and support for years to come.
Team Liquid, 100 Thieves, Andbox, G2, and many others have embraced the drop model as an essential part of their apparel and revenue strategies, and it has worked for them. Esports companies successfully created their own fashion ecosystem built around esports-themed streetwear drops. In doing so, esports companies have gone beyond the traditional sporting gear model and it is paying dividends.
But 100 Thieves is looking to shake up this model with their always available Foundations line of products.
100 Thieves breaks the streetwear drop mold with their Foundations collection
Given the success limited-edition products have brought 100 Thieves and esports as a whole, it is a little surprising to see them openly challenging the drop model.
However, 100 Thieves is not the only organization questioning the long-term efficacy of streetwear drops. Indeed, the founders of streetwear are beginning to doubt if streetwear is going to be the dominant model forever.
Designer Virgl Abloh, who founded Off-White, made waves in 2019 when he told DAZED magazine: "I would say [Streetwear] is going to die." This was a surprising statement from a man who made a fortune off creating and selling streetwear, but according to Abloh, Streetwear is a ticking time bomb.
"Its time will be up," he explained. "In my mind, how many more t-shirts can we own, how many more hoodies, how many sneakers?"
Abloh thinks that with so many drops already out there, the focus going forward will be on the acquisition of particular pieces, rather than the production of new ones.
Now to be clear, Abloh's prediction of the death of streetwear has not come to pass, especially in esports which is just getting started. Streetwear is debatably the most popular it has ever been in this industry, so it is hard to see the "death of streetwear" as the driving force behind 100 Thieves' decision.
But 100 Thieves' new collection does show us an interesting alternative to the popular streetwear model. They are making fashion-forward products that are objectively streetwear fashion and then standing by them in a long-term way.
100 Thieves is committing to a style with their new collection, and there is something to be said for that as a brand move. Not only does it demonstrate supreme confidence in their products but it also changes the focus from how many different designs can we make and produce, to making the most iconic, lasting design possible that can sell for years to come. When you see a 100 Thieves Foundation jacket in the future, it will be instantly recognizable.
An always available apparel line pushes the focus from making novelty products to making iconic ones.
On top of that, you can both have a continuing line of merchandise and still do special edition drops. These two models don't have to trade-off with each other, assuming an org has the resources to do both. The future of streetwear in esports will likely focus on quality and lasting value, and 100 Thieves' new Foundation collection is at the forefront of the new movement.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.