Last Friday, Business of Fashion announced that the media company and e-commerce platform Hypebeast had plans to file for an initial public offering in Hong Kong. On Monday, 500 million shares were listed at HK$0.13 and, according to Bloomberg, soared as high as HK$2.80 and closed at HK$1.05, a 708-percent jump. Hypebeast had raised HK$65 million (about $8.4 million), far exceeding its expectations of HK$29.7 (about $3.8 million).
Kevin Ma told Business of Fashion that he plans use 35 percent of the IPO's earnings towards upgrading sales and marketing behind Hypebeast, which receives about 46.9 million page views monthly. Ma founded Hypebeast in 2005, and what was initially launched as a sneaker blog has evolved into a much bigger player, if not the original player, in the streetwear-on-the-Internet world.
The streetwear market, and the mainstream attention that it's attracted, has also drastically changed over the past decade. And with the success that has come behind Hypebeast's IPO — a record-breaking debut in Asia thus far for 2016, according to data from Bloomberg — there's proof of just how valuable the growing streetwear market has become. In a Reuters study from 2011, the industry had a projected worth of $60 billion; by 2015, a market study by WeConnect reported an increased value of about $75 billion.
Streetwear's popularity in high fashion hit an all-time high during fashion month for fall 2016, which goes to show how good the timing was for Hypebeast. Will its IPO attract other streetwear-focused companies to make the same move, or at least seek investments from luxury conglomerates like LVMH or Kering? (The latter has already tapped into the sports apparel space by acquiring Volcom, Puma and Cobra.) For being an industry that thrives on the image of exclusivity (garnering an entire underground economy of high-earning re-sellers in the process), the chances of an in-demand streetwear brand going corporate are low — at least for now.