A couple of weeks ago, hundreds of people raced through the streets of Soho trying to get their hands on the newest pieces from Corteiz, a name accelerating up the ranks of the London streetwear scene faster than anyone can keep up with.
Clint, the brand’s founder and illustrious mastermind, started Corteiz from his bedroom in 2017 with screen-printed crewnecks and t-shirts. They featured the now recognisable Alcatraz logo, which represents the core message behind the brand – breaking free from the norm and ruling your own world.
The only form of advertising used by the brand was social media, relying solely on the quality of products and word of mouth to attract a following to, what was for a long time, a private Instagram page. In August 2019, Corteiz propelled its steady and organic growth through the first public t-shirt giveaway which resulted in a 50-man strong race through the streets of Soho. And they never slowed down from there.
The second surprise event happened at the start of September this year and it was bigger, busier and even more manic than the first. The crowd sprinting through the centre of London to swap their travel cards for t-shirts sparked a social media frenzy and undoubtedly brought Corteiz further into the mainstream.
Although sharing the same scene, Corteiz is proudly different to other streetwear empires. The drops are still limited and highly competitive, selling out in minutes after release, but any kind of resale market is discouraged. The Corteiz website on drop days is the only place you can cop a Corteiz crewneck and this attitude is what has created such a tight knit community around the brand. Corteiz doesn’t rely on reselling to maintain their popularity. Instead every garment is just made to last, to be kept and to be treasured. The brand has a strong identity visually as well, with collections including their trademark joggers, distinctive balaclavas, bold graphics and powerful messages.
Now in September 2021, the brand has amassed nearly 90,000 followers and has been worn by celebrities such as Dave, Slowthai, Jorja Smith and many more influential faces within the UK music scene. There have been collaborations with musicians KwolleM and Central Cee, and Stormzy donned Corteiz on the biggest stage at both Reading and Parklife festival. It is clear that Corteiz has cemented itself within the scene in London and the UK, but it doesn’t stop there. The movement is constantly spreading across Europe and to the USA. A pair of Corteiz ‘Rules The World’ socks attended the Met Gala on the feet of Virgil Abloh, who wore them with his Louis Vuitton suit and custom Air Force 1’s (third slide).
Despite a growing celebrity following, everyone receives the same access to the clothes via the website; a fundamental principle behind the brand. In this way, Clint promotes a non-conformist approach to managing a streetwear brand and attracting a mass cult following.
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There is a constant, energising buzz around Corteiz – a similar feeling of anticipation to a hundred people sprinting round Soho in balaclavas trying to get their hands on a graphic t-shirt. It’s different, it’s exciting and it’s unpredictable. It’s a brand taking its own approach to streetwear and thriving by simply not giving a fuck. Corteiz is showing no sign of slowing down and at this speed and intensity, it is well and truly on track to ruling the world of fashion.
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