What is Anti Social Social Club?
What is Anti Social Social Club?
- Words Phil Levens
- Date July 29, 2019
Anti Social Social Club has been an enigma since its explosion onto the streetwear scene in early 2015. Celebrities like Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, and Korean boy band BTS have been spotted wearing its designs, generating a tidal wave of hype that propelled Anti Social Social Club into the forefront of streetwear. But the brand was never intended to exist on the scale it does today. Rather, the project was conceived as the manifestation of a mood board, reflecting the fluctuating emotions of its elusive creator. Regardless of the initial intent, the sheer mania Anti Social Social Club induced from the beginning made maintaining the mood board spirit difficult. Despite a slew of controversies surrounding contempt for its customer base, Anti Social Social Club remains a fixture in the streetwear universe. Many know Anti Social Social Club for it’s distorted Friz Quadrata Bold logotype, pastel-colored garments, and shock product drops, but where did this brand come from, and who is it’s mysterious founder, Neek Lurk?
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Born on October 5, 1988, Andrew Buenaflor, better known as “Neek Lurk”, is no stranger to the internet or the ever-evolving streetwear scene. A transplant from the Bronx living in Las Vegas studying business management at the College of Southern Nevada, Neek was disappointed by the dry cultural scene in Sin City, spending most of his time inside on the internet. As a popular member of the NikeTalk forums in its heyday (a site co-founded by Method Man and frequented by sneaker fanatics in the early to mid-’00s like DJ AM, Ben Baller and Wale), Neek gained a following through his WDYWT (What Did You Wear Today) thread posts. His distinct skinny jeans, graphic tees, big hair and coveted Nike SB looks garnered him a reputation in the forum’s community—even prompting a member to create (and sell through) Neek T-shirts based off a Supreme parody on the site. Some members have even gone so far as to claim: “People wear skinny jeans because of Yeezy. Yeezy wears skinny jeans because of Neek.”
But Neek’s interests extended beyond his NikeTalk postings. His blog, “Where’s Neek,” was a dumping ground for these musings, spanning from his infatuation with cars (especially his slammed, blacked-out Scion xB) to his love of Japanese porn. In fact, his self-identification as a professional lurker formed the latter half of his internet-born moniker. Internet fame, however, would soon drive him past lurking and into the limelight.
His postings didn’t halt after graduation, and concurrent with his rampant online activity, Neek landed at Stussy. While he started as part-time hire, he quickly rose through the ranks to become the Las Vegas store’s general manager, and eventually Stussy’s social media marketing manager. His relationship with Eddie Cruz, founder of Undefeated, proved valuable in the budding yet tight-knit Vegas streetwear scene. Beyond his work with Stussy, Neek would lend his talents to social media and guerrilla marketing campaigns for Cruz’s brand, as well as The Hundreds and Fruition.
Eventually, Neek relocated to Los Angeles around 2014 as his marketing responsibilities at Stussy grew. Alone in a new city, Neek began documenting his surroundings with his Ricoh camera and posting to his photo blog. Neek’s personal work was inspired by his raw emotions—mostly anger, loneliness and depression—and had been quietly printing clothes inspired by feelings for many years. His longtime roommate confirmed this in early 2016, telling “No Vacancy Inn” that Anti Social Social Club was not even Neek’s first creation with the brand’s signature wave font.
The catalyst for Anti Social Social Club came in late 2014 after a girl left him heartbroken. In response, he designed a 6-panel cap emblazoned with the phrase “I Miss You” on the front and the Anti Social Social Club logo above the right ear; he told Vice in 2016, he had no goals or ambitions beyond the initial batch. However, once Kim Kardashian was spotted wearing the hat at NYFW mere months after Neek created it, the hype machine began turning.
In 2015, Neek expanded on his clothing with a photoshop mockup of the first Anti Social Social Club logo T-shirts, selling 12 in his first run, and eventually creating a hoodie bearing the Anti Social Social Club logo on the chest. Only three weeks after its launch, Kanye West was seen rocking the hoodie, boosting the brand’s site traffic to nearly two million visitors in a week. The infamous “Kanye effect” brought international attention to the brand and catapulted Anti Social Social Club to the forefront of streetwear in 2015, alongside mainstays in the space like BAPE (who's since collaborated with Anti Social Social Club) and Supreme.
Neek emphasized how the brand is predicated on his raw emotions and quick decisions: “When I post stuff, I don’t hesitate. For me, foreshadowing is about following my gut feeling and that feeling always works,” Neek explained to Vice. “I change my mind so much. I get bored and make quick decisions...This brand is successful because I’m really quick. Quick decisions, quick production and quick reactions to the internet...I’m quick with this stuff and that’s good. My emotions happen, I ponder and think, but when it comes to making decisions, I just go for what I want right then.” The brand represents a real-time reflection of Neek’s ever-fluctuating mood, and the melancholic message resonated with fans—either authentically or ironically.
Neek was translating his darkness into clothing for the masses, and phrases like “Stay Weird,” “Mind Games,” and the Instagram then-tagline, “Self Doubts,” adorned early capsule collections for the brand in 2015 and 2016. Its social media presence perpetuated Anti Social Social Club’s anguish-fuelled ethos, populating followers’ feeds with text-based posts set on fluorescent backgrounds reading “Never Again Never You,” and “Manic Depressive Sadist Masochist.” Other posts ranged from images of fortunate fans who were able to obtain the garments, to photos of cigarette butts accompanied by captions like “Your messed up world still thrills me.” Social media and guerilla marketing had always been a strong suit for Neek, and his strategy proved to further generate an air of exclusivity around a brand that was still just printing graphics on blank tees.
Early Anti Social Social Club product offerings were rooted in essentials: T-shirts, hoodies, dad hats, flannels and coaches jackets. Its elusive and sporadic Instagram-driven product roll-outs—comprised of product teases and an accompanying drops—expanded to include Anti Social Social Club-branded items like license plate frames, wall socket covers, blankets, ashtrays, plungers, and even a sex toy—all to satiate the rabid fanbase’s hunger for anything bearing the logo. With a list of celebrity cosigns that seemed to grow larger by the day (Travis Scott, Wiz Khalifa, Rita Ora and G-Dragon, to name a few), meant Anti Social Social Club items sold out in mere minutes. The brand had skyrocketed to a size no one had expected, and with Neek being the sole operator, order fulfillment quickly became an issue that plagued the brand.
With all of the popularity the Anti Social Social Club was realizing, and Neek’s Stussy tenure under his belt, brand collaborations came swiftly and plentifully. Capsule collections with BAPE, Cactus Plant Flea Market, Dover Street Market, Mastermind Japan, Neighborhood, the Gran Turismo video game series and luxury luggaemaker, Rimowa, all released in the brand’s first few years, solidifying its ranging appeal.
Pop-up shops followed suit, with the inaugural 2016 event set in a Los Angeles storefront denoted by the giant painted words, “Get Weird.” Whether the brick and mortar installations signified another collaborative project—like the capsules with RSVP Gallery, Richardson and furniture company Modernica—or simply offered a rare chance to purchase Anti Social Social Club items in-person, lines comparable to Supreme drops formed with diehard fans at fever pitch. Creative, cryptic marketing tactics continued to define new offerings, exemplified by the billboards that sprouted around L.A. in mid-2017 featuring just a phone number and the brand’s instantly recognizable wavy logo set on a pastel pink background. Callers were rewarded with Morse Code containing the location and details for the brand’s forthcoming pop-up.
However, beginning roughly a year after its inception and stretching into the present, the brand’s meteoric rise in popularity caught Neek off guard. As time passed and Anti Social Social Club grew bigger, a large subsection of customers had had enough of the brand’s antics. Complaints of year-long merchandise shipping delays sullied the brand’s reputation within the wider streetwear community. In the earlier years, Neek initially responded to the backlash on the brand’s Instagram, posting personal updates or showing delivery trucks. Even today, disgruntled comments and hashtags such as #wheresmyhoodiebro flood each new Instagram post. Over time, Neek appeared to operate in spite of the negativity; He would continue to post his luxury cars on social media, inevitably taking the criticism head-on by releasing releasing an “Eye Hate Neek” shirt with the brand’s Spring/Summer 2018 drop.
In his 2016 interview with Vice, Neek spoke on the negativity: “The internet is negative. If nobody is talking, nobody cares about the product. The more positive the talk is, the less impactful it is. The more negative hate you get and harsh it is, the more people are looking. Negative is positive.“
Even amidst all the resentful comments and dissatisfied customers—and whether you choose to believe it or not—Anti Social Social Club is still going strong. Collections—now offering upwards of 100 different items in a single drop—are still selling out and collaborations persist. On the heels of its co-branded merchandise with BTS, Anti Social Social Club has teamed up with Medicom Toy—to release an Anti Social Social Club edition Be@rbick—Hello Kitty, Honda and kitchenware company Cuckoo. No matter your opinion on the brand, Anti Social Social Club remains a fixture in the closets of hypebeasts everywhere. Building an internally-recognized streetwear label? We can think of a worse way to get over an ex.