Formed only a few years ago, The Basement has quickly garnered an active community on a mass scale. It began as a streetwear group, both as a place for discussion around clothing, but also to facilitate the buying and selling of such items. Fast forward to now, and the group is 75,000 members strong, and is now a linchpin of the scene, fostering a burgeoning, friendly community.
New forms of media have altered and revise the way in which we buy and sell clothes. Ebay and Depop are the most obvious examples of this, streamlining business worldwide, enabling individuals access to whatever items they wish for in a matter of days. What is given less attention is how these forms of new media have actually change the relationships which form around clothes. Facebook groups have created international communities, brought together purely by a shared interest in apparel.
The most striking example of this is The Basement. The group began as an offshoot from ‘suptalk’, a group which aimed to facilitate the trading of Supreme items. When many users were posting items which were not supreme, The Basement was spawned to deal with such entries. It quickly became not just a marketplace and discussion board for general streetwear, but ultimately a community of users who supported and gave advice to eachother in all aspects of their lives. The group now hosts members across the whole spectrum of human life, be it in terms of fashion tastes, interests or geographical location.
The Basement is not the only group which was created with similar target audiences. Wavey Garms sells vintage clothing, whilst BTNK Fit Battles focuses on competition between its members in regards to their fashion sense. This is where the basement is different. Their ethos is spelled out in the lengthy pinned post at the top of the group, which states that the group is “popular as it is because of the rules and the community spirit that we share.” Moreover, it states that “if you show complete disrespect to the page or any of its members, you will be instantly banned. These rules MUST be followed if you want to stay within the family.” The post then goes on to classify this disrespect as “foul language, rude comments or flaming of any kind, no racial slurs, homophobic or transphobic comments, using rape to refer to high prices, offensive/provocative photos or baseless legit checks”.
The standard that the basement holds its members to, and its commitment to always assuring that members are courteous and friendly with each-other, has fertilized an incredibly positive atmosphere. This is reflected in countless anecdotal stories which have touched many members in different ways. Many members have selflessly lent money to other members to help them secure an item they highly desired, whilst mental health threads encouraging members to be open with each-other are frequent. Moreover, “basement love stories” are common, and an annual secret santa pairs strangers who send anonymous gifts. These gifts are often niche and coveted items, chosen depending on what could be gleamed of their interests through Facebook. Outside of this, I have personally seen regular progress checks on one member’s disabled son which chart his learning to walk, whilst many who are going through chemotherapy are sent free hats from other members to cover up hair loss.
This growth within the group has been reflected in its credence outside. The clothing brand SCRT, who have a small yet passionate following, have created a shirt with a cartoon version of ‘Brando’, who has become a cult figure in the group for offering a trustworthy and prompt middle-man service. Elsewhere, the group has a number of spin-offs, be it “the bathroom”, a meme and shitposting group, “the cabinet”, which focuses on political issues, or “the waiting room”, for those who have been banned from the group. The group have recently released a shoe in collaboration with Nike, such is their power. It has even launched many of its members into the public eye, namely Leo Mandella, the 15 year old who can boast 570,000 followers, a successful clothing line, and a social sphere which includes global superstars such as Kendall Jenner.
The Basement is now intrinsically woven into the seams of a culture which they formed only to represent. All is left now is to see how far their growth can continue. With their own website which covers news on the scene and a coveted clothing line, they are fast becoming a cultural behemoth. This is one basement which doesn’t seem to have a ceiling.