When Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, and Rita Ora wear your clothes, you’re kind of a big deal. You’re an especially big deal with “hypebeasts” and “hypebaes,” (Google them), sneakerheads, and streetwear brats. Of course, no one knows who you are — but boy, do they love your clothes.
Anti Social Social Club, created by 28-year-old Neek Lurk, has captivated Los Angelenos and New Yorkers who keep one eye on street culture and the other glued to Instagram. The brand’s Tumblr pink (think Pepto-Bismol) baseball caps and plain white hoodies are emblazoned with its name in wavy “friz quadrata bold” font, à la Microsoft Powerpoint 2000 — real vintage early aughts type.
The clothes look a little like concert merchandise (and we’ve already seen how lucrative that can be). Only instead of Justin Bieber’s “Purpose Tour” logo, ASSC clothes say things like “self doubts,” “I miss you,” or “losing you.” For Lurk, inspiration comes in the night, with the help of alcohol and whatever else he’s in the mood for, really.
“I get ideas when I drink, from people who say the wrong or right things,” he says. “I take people’s words and put them on products. It’s my mood board. I’m not lazy ’cause I don’t have a job; that’s my version of a 9 a.m. meeting.”
Despite Anti Social’s list of high-profile fans, Lurk is reluctant to share much about his personal life. Complex has called Lurk and his brand “enigmatic.” When I speak with Lurk, he speaks with slacker-style apathy, and vaguely accounts for how his work comes together. He cringes at any mention of a “brand” or “business,” but it’s foolish to think what he’s got on his hands is anything otherwise.
Neek Lurk (no, that’s not his real name) spent his childhood in Las Vegas — or, if you ask him, “the worst city in the world.” He lived a reclusive existence locked away in his childhood bedroom and chained to his keyboard and says the people on messaging boards and in chat rooms were much nicer to him than those he went to school with. He says he hates the Internet now, but he can’t hate it that much; it’s brought him the kind of money he needs to live his life “MTV Cribs style,” replete with five souped-up cars and a house in the Hills.
After high school, about ten years ago, Lurk didn’t go to college or enroll in any design programs, but he did work for the Stüssy store in Las Vegas. Then, three years ago, Lurk ditched Vegas for Los Angeles and started ASSC — or A.S.S. Club, as Lurk sometimes calls it — as “a side project.” Now, he works for Stüssy in a marketing role.
Though Anti Social Social Club is only two years old, a loyal cult following and limited clothing releases lead to pent-up demand, which causes the inventory to sell out almost immediately each time Lurk makes the items available — exclusively on his site. He limits his sales to three “drops” a year. The next is on Saturday, March 4, and if it’s anything like his previous drops, the merchandise will sell out in minutes.
Lurk says ASSC isn’t a company — he calls it his “life project” — doesn’t have an office, and claims to have turned down a deal with Barneys, the luxury department store. He also says ASSC sales are “pretty much as big as a corporation.” Lurk declined to give exact sales numbers in case he decides to sell the rights to the brand one day, but assures me he’s selling thousands of any given item as soon as it’s up on his site. Sales have been brisk enough to furnish his new, luxe lifestyle, after all.
Of course, eschewing a traditional business model — or any semblance of a supply chain — brings its own problems. The modest operation is run primarily by Lurk, who said he asks a friend or two for help before a big shipment or release. That doesn’t exactly feed the hypebeasts, though.
Commenters on ASSC’s Instagram page are quick to call out long delays between order times and shipments (two months, according to one account). Lurk responds to these complaints — not via a customer service email or contact number but via Instagram, asking customers to be patient and reassuring them that their orders will arrive eventually.
For as much as Lurk says he’s not running a company, he is. He’s had successful collaborations with Dover Street Market, a business relationship he said was born from a friendship; a capsule collection with the “mysterious” mastermind Japan; a series of hoodies with softcore porn mag Penthouse ; a collaboration with Modernica, sellers of midcentury-style luxury furniture, like the iconic Eames chair; and, on the horizon, a streetwear collaboration that Lurk is keeping under wraps until launch day.
And ASSC has its legal bases covered. An LLC for “Get Weird”, the official name of ASSC’s business, was filed in 2015 in California. Lurk has also filed for a trademark for Anti Social Social Club’s emblematic typeface on baseball caps, T-shirts, and hooded sweatshirts. There are already ASSC knockoffs.
Whatever his end goal is, Lurk says the brand is his kind of therapy. But if there’s one thing we know about therapy, it’s that there’s money in melancholia — in this case, when it’s plastered on a neon T-shirt.
Alexandra Mondalek is a writer for Yahoo Style and Beauty. Follow her on Twitter @amondalek.