As an editor, I find it hard to report on an Anti Social Social Club release without regurgitating an article I wrote three months ago. If I didn’t know any better, I’d assume that Neek Lurk (right), head of the label, feels the same way when designing a collection flagshipped by pieces that recycle ASSC’s infamous logo.
It doesn’t exactly take Copernicus to predict what the next drop will look like.
The predictable designs make for uninspired releases. Combine that with a reputation of horrible customer service and outrageous shipping times, and ASSC should have been dead in the water a long time ago.
But it isn’t.
Most would chalk its buoyancy up to its hype. So long as celebrities continue to flaunt the designs, fans will follow. But it’s been a long time. Years, in fact. And the designs haven’t changed in any way dramatic enough to explain the label’s success.
How has the brand ASSC survived so long in one of the world’s most saturated markets?
Because it isn’t a brand at all.
I like Anti Social Social Club. I don’t own anything from it (and at its price point, I never will), and I don’t love ASSC – but I like it. And I think its existence deserves another chance in the eyes of the public, whose opinions are adopted as blindly as its trends.
Now, I understand that ASSC’s rap (as a brand) is well deserved. In a 2015 interview between Hypebeast writer Madrell Stinney and Neek Lurk (viewable here), ASSC is praised for “Its relatable graphic messaging, pastel-colored garments, and unorthodox product roll-outs.” In an article covering ASSC’s 2017 spring/summer drop, Hypebeast writer Austin Boykins said
“The range stays true to its high popular aesthetic keeping things simple with Anti Social Social Club branding on the front and on a larger scale on the back of its T-shirts. You’ll also find the same on its hoodies and crewneck sweatshirts which are all offered in a wide range of color options such as pink, black, white, red, orange, purple, camouflage and many more. Additional pieces include coach jackets, flannel shirts, sweatpants and sweat-shorts to round out its apparel.
Accessories also a part of the drop via its range of spring colored caps, license plate frame, ashtray and more.”
Two years later, Anti Social Social Club is still known for its “relatable graphic messaging, pastel-colored garments and unorthodox product roll-outs.”
ASSC is criticized for not changing, yet condemned for staying true. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I imagine that to most, a point between the two extremes would be considered optimal. But Anti Social Social Club was never meant to be in the Goldie-Locks zone that so many brands rest in.
Because, once again, it isn’t a brand. It’s Neek Lurk. It’s his mood board. It’s his mind. It’s a diary of his emotions. Look at another excerpt from Lurk’s 2015 Hypebeast interview.
Madrell: So, let’s dive right into it. What pushes an introvert to make a social club for the socially impaired?
Lurk: It’s just me. […]
Madrell: With slogans like “Get Weird” and “Never Not Weird,” do you feel the need for Anti Social Social Club to remain unconventional?
Lurk: Unconventional? No, like I said before, it’s just me. […]
Anti Social Social Club is how Lurk perceives himself. It isn’t supposed to change, or be dynamic, or act in any way like a brand. Because it isn’t.
- Neek Lurk
“I remember back in high school, I couldn’t get in a house party because of who I was. It stuck with me […],” says Lurk later in his Hypebeast interview. Perhaps the memory of not being allowed into the party is what’s truly behind ASSC’s name.
It’s a party for himself.
Lurk has talked about people leaving him, using him, or outright hating him in every interview he’s done. It fuels his self-doubt. It fuels his depression. Lurk is a man with demons, and he channels them into ASSC.
“It’s a sad song that plays on repeat in your head, a cancer that never goes way. This is what makes me create, and this is what keeps me going. It’s not a positive thing, but that’s what’s real.”
Maybe that’s why everything is printed on blanks that are cheap. Maybe that’s why the customer service is abysmal. Maybe that’s why the shipping is unreliable. That’s how Lurk perceives himself. And with comments like the following trailing his interviews, I don’t blame him.
- Neek Lurk
Lurk says himself says that ASSC was never supposed to be a clothing brand. To be specific, in his Hypebeast interview he clarified that it’s “a life project.” So why is it that people judge his work as though it’s – at least primarily – a clothing brand?
Lurk heads a project that, for better or for worse, has become infamous. It is, in my opinion, underrated as
“a life project.” It has an immediately recognizable style. It has a coherent theme. It can be analyzed, interpreted, and examined endlessly. It’s Lurk’s own, and it’s comparable to no other artist. Look at his media feeds, his videos, his music – ASSC extends far beyond its apparel.
Read his interviews. Explore his work. Make your own assessment of Lurk.
But understand that Anti Social Social Club is not, and never will be, a clothing brand.