How an Instagram creator became a hyped streetwear brand by curating moodboards
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There’s a textbook Drake photo…
on the internet. He’s at a Toronto Raptors game wearing this lovely bandana-themed puffer from Japanese brand Visvim.
It’s one of those future vintage photos where you’re like “damn, where do I find this piece?” the way we all did when Jay-Z wore camo pants to a Brooklyn Nets game years ago.
Jay found the camo pants at Barneys New York.
Drake is a different story. Turns out, he was taking shopping advice from…
…a creator on Instagram.
“When [Drake] first DM’d me I was just happy to be recognized by somebody so iconic. He buys so much shit that I send him…We just sort of texted for a bit…he said if I saw anything that I thought would be good for him to just send it through. I've been doing that sort of regularly,” quotes courtesy of Complex.
Meet Hidden NY, arguably the most hype-worthy mood board on Instagram. In many ways, Hidden is an enigma. He stays anonymous; that’s part of the allure. What we do know about him is that he’s a British ex-pat living in NYC in his mid-late twenties.
And he says “mum” instead of “mom”. Yep, 100% British. That’s about it.
But Hidden is more than a cute mood board on Instagram. He’s not simply a repost account. He’s a cultural curator, and as a creator he runs a legitimate media business that competes with the old guard of fashion outlets, and he should be treated as such. His content is a blend of art, fashion, design, and cultural references, primarily in the streetwear genre.
In a few years, he’s scaled his audience to over 700,000+ Instagram followers, is Substack’s #1 Art+Fashion newsletter with thousands of paid subscribers, each of whom he’s charging at least $15 per month,
…and a booming clothing business that sells out of every collection he drops. These pieces always resell for obscene prices on the secondary market.
See for yourself…
In a few words, he’s crushing it.
But how did he arrive here?
No filter, please
There’s an intrigue about stripped-down, mood board content on Instagram. It’s no secret that after years of polished, professional, high production content, users largely want raw & unfiltered content, and that’s what Hidden delivers on. His photos are screenshots, grainy, a little blurry, and real.
“Unregulated media is exciting, think early Vice.” He said in an interview with Highsnobiety. “No other news channel could have captured such real content… There’s no need for clean backdrops or high-budget shoots. I like to see what people are really wearing and treasuring and what's coming up in the underground,” quotes courtesy of Highsnobiety.
And it scales, too, partially because he posts 10-20 times per day, which the almighty algorithm rewards. But, also because he’s striking a chord with legacy media. He’s challenging an institutional approach to the ways in which create--no, curate--content. Hidden’s style is pushing us to think differently about old norms and whether they work anymore.
“PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE”
That’s Hidden’s trademark phrase.
In many ways, it’s an acknowledgment that culture is a blend of old and new. And at a time when commercializing hip-hop, sneakers, and streetwear et al has infiltrated the culture, Hidden has leveraged this demand by creating a destination to curate, inspire, and discover others.
And that doesn’t go unnoticed. His Instagram account is followed by industry leaders like the late Virgil Abloh, Pharrell Williams, KITH’s Ronnie Fieg, and Erik Brunetti.
Hidden’s curation work is highly regarded, and it’s seen by many as a cultural stamp of approval if he happens to repost yours.
Speaking of… Hidden’s platform resonates with so many because he brings others into his world and amplifies their work. An example of this is the Hidden Design Competition, which he’s done in the past. The goal is to get as many designers to participate by creating their own graphic art on a t-shirt and then award whoever wins by selling the shirts and splitting the revenue. It’s a community-building moment that drives buzz and momentum back to him.
It wouldn’t hit the same way if Hypebeast did this. Only a creator could cultivate that.
He’s also collaborated with another popular Instagram account, VANDY, on apparel projects too. Moves like this bring fans closer into the process, it builds real community and makes people feel like they know something you don’t.
A lot of people associate Hidden being a sneaker / streetwear repost account. The truth is that he’s always on a hunt to discover underground or up-and-coming creatives, to be on the precipice of what’s new and exciting, all before the big name outlets discover it.
It’s an if-you-know-you-know kind of vibe. Hidden’s followers also get a sense of gratification by learning about up-and-comers. It’s as if they’re discovering with Hidden, which creates brand affinity with his account.
Hidden has his haters too. He gets shade on social from time-to-time, particularly because of his posting style, where he almost never writes captions with his photos and in the past hasn’t always tagged the originator of the content that he’s sharing. The bigger his influence, the more of a liability this may become for him, which could lead to content infringement lawsuits down the line.
“I'm always happy to credit people. It's not a big deal to me at all, but I find it difficult when people expect me to know everything,” he says to Complex.
Creators are in the driver’s seat
Creators are the new brands. More than ever, one can start from nothing, nurture a hobby, and flip it into a business (sometimes) overnight. Hidden is a textbook example of this. You can’t deny his cultural imprint; it’s something we must take seriously. By staying true to his posting style and cadence over the years, he’s built an incredibly lucrative business through curation, education, and discovery.
As an individual creator, he’s producing network effects around the content he shares that many legacy media brands couldn’t dream of replicating with all their wealth of resources.
He might be the exception to the rule at the moment, but not for long. Creators are coming.