The Basement has been in the news a lot recently.
Vice have covered The Basement, and even the FT have had a go at explaining to older folk what the streetwear movement actually is and looking at the clever reselling from entrepreneurial 14 year-olds.
These magazines seem to feel they’ve cracked it: just bored teenagers part of another fad. They’ve focused on the teenagers in Soho every day, the resellers on Depop, the resellers in the actual group. They’ve focused on the tangibles.
But in being part of the group for almost a year, I’ve realised there is a lot more to it than this. Fickle pricing, Supreme collections and Gully Guy Leo are not representative of The Basement. It simply can’t be. Every single member out of the 65k can’t be a 14 year old kid who hangs out in Soho getting lit Instagrams.
Throughout all of the media hype, everyone has tried to capture the essence of The Basement, and hopefully uncover why it is so damn popular. But, I think there’s something less clear that attracts people and keeps them glued to their screen and commenting the 100 emoji or writing ‘B’ a bunch of times.
If you just joined, the comments can occasionally be so helpful they seem sarky – they genuinely aren’t. They are actually sincere. This is just the smallest part of the puzzle which explains what makes The Basement great.
The Basement is always on hand to help. Need a vote in a competition? The Basement is there to help. I’ve seen people demolish the competition with online voting because of The Basement. Nothing is out of the question.
A few days ago I saw someone post saying a mate was in hospital with cancer and needed a pick me up. Hundreds sent in cards, freebies; seemingly people would do anything to help. But it’s not just stories as sad as a young guy with cancer. I posted the other day asking for stories, and was instantly inundated with stories of some of the most heart-warming displays of kindness I’ve ever heard.
Of course, The Basement, for those who don’t know, isn’t just a group for helping one and another. It’s actually a streetwear group first and foremost. But even in this vein, people are still the same, kind, wonderfully selfless individuals.
Many people in The Basement post fit pics. Simply, it’s what they wore one day, and they ask for people’s opinions in the comments. Posting a fit pic requires pretty high self-confidence. I, for one, would not be willing to post a picture of myself in front of a potential 65k audience.
But people do, and members have their backs. If there is a hateful comment, the hateful commenter will be shut down immediately. This seems like simple common courtesy, but it’s a nuance that only our generation has. Most people would take the attitude that if you’re posting a photo, you should equally deal with the hate. But that doesn’t fly in this group.
You may think that some hate in posts like that creeps through. But there has been some equilibrium created by like-minded people who would equally like to be able to post something along those lines. People are not afraid to call out someone for being a beg.
This non-judgemental attitude means that someone felt confident enough to post personal issues on the group. Recently, one member posted his predicament with his girlfriend and just asked for some advice. I do not know any other group or even a social situation with good friends where many people would feel comfortable to ask such a question. Yet in The Basement, it just works.
Someone else posted a mental health story on the group a while back. Hundreds of members were there to help, offering to DM (direct message), not only to help with the problem, but even just to chat about anything other than the issue.
Then one person mentioned a mental health group – The Basement members flocked to it. The mental health group admins had to restate the rules of the group because so many people joined. But in reality they didn’t need to. Suddenly this group has endless comments on posts saying DM me if needs be. The help that the group so vitally needed was there.
In the group, people are quite clearly open and post stories or issues they are having. These may be girlfriend issues, parental issues, self confidence issues; whatever they are, people help. I don’t know for certain if this attitude was there before but I am pretty certain this mentality was instilled by The Basement members.
One member was ballsy enough to call out the entire group saying not enough people were commenting to help on posts in the group. Of course, I later find out he’s also a member of The Basement. People listened to him and there has never been a lack of help since.
One post was about a guy who was struggling very hard in another country. He posted on the mental health group saying he was suicidal; instantly many comments came up saying “open to chat”, “DM me”, “don’t do it” – just about every piece of advice under the sun. The whole saga was a tense few days, but he didn’t kill himself, and ended up, with the help of the group, relocating to the UK.
Guess who he met up with when he arrived in the UK? Members of The Basement.
This collective ‘we got your back’ ideology has led to a truly great community, and that’s respectable on so many levels. But it’s not as if The Basement is the Mecca of this ideology. It is an ideology deeply ingrained in young people today. The Basement members’ sky high confidence has merely allowed everyone to extenuate, and show off our values as a generation. We want the world to change and help each other to realise their individuality.
If we want something, we try to make it. If we want an environment where talking about mental health, Supreme, politics or sports, we make a place where we can. We’re driven by each other to help those less fortunate than us, and to protect our world for future generations.
We may not protest, but we always stand up for what we believe in in some way, shape or form. We’re stronger, and definitely less afraid to tell someone to fuck off, or tell them what’s really going on. We have each other’s back. We share. We all take a collective effort to make our world better.
The Basement has accurately assimilated all of those qualities. Even if there are people throwing their ‘weight’ in the group around, or a 14 year-old kid is ripping you off, or God forbid, you are sold a fake, there’s about 100 who have all of the qualities that make our generation great.
So, whatever happens to streetwear, whatever happens to Supreme, BAPE (it’s already dead), Gosha or Palace, I am certain there will consistently be people coming to be part of this community, truly and sincerely grateful to have somewhere they can be themselves. It’s the ‘je ne sais quoi’ of the group. It’s the intangible that older generations don’t seem to get. People aren’t coming to The Basement purely for fashion or to sell clothes and make a quick buck: they’re there for the community it has become, and will continue to be for many years.
Dm me bro x
words by Frazer Worboys