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Inside the internet’s most dedicated fashion community

From a few members to a 20,000+ strong family, how The Basement became the virtual hangout of streetwear’s hardcore fans

Where can you go to find out if anyone has a pair of the coveted Kanye-designed Black Yeezy Boosts for sale in your size, get tickets for Banksy’s Dismaland or get personal advice on which outfits to pack for your next holiday? First started as an offshoot of Supreme Talk UK/EU (a Facebook group dedicated to discussion on the cult streetwear brand), The Basement is a page that has grown into a community of its own, helped by the personal touch of Facebook over of the anonymity of other digital forums. Whether asking for ‘legit checks’ or showing off their latest steals, its members aren’t a far cry from the Fashion Spot users who have a passion for tracking down models, or the Redditors of /r/malefashionadvice who discuss obsessively how amped they are to wear their new fall coats. But perhaps most importantly, as hundred comment meme threads demonstrate – they don’t take things too seriously.

They may have got attention earlier this year for attempts to return a Palace hat ‘stolen’ by Instagram fashion icon Ian Connor to its rightful owner, but beyond its moral crusades, The Basement has branched out into its own t-shirts, Fight Club style soap and even a successful recent London pop up. Its founder, Peter Mitchell, sees it as a family, a place where you can engage in fashion whatever kind of money you have in your wallet. As for how he manages a group this size? “We just boss it,” he explains. “But on a real, we have a good team of admins that will ban people that don't follow the rules of the group. Banned members have their own group ‘The Waiting Room’ which has also became a community in itself, which is crazy!” We spoke to Mitchell to find out more.  

Why do you think streetwear fans are so hardcore?

Peter Mitchell: It’s always been that way within street style – people have always latched onto something and pushed it further within the communities, to the stage that there are subcultures within subcultures. Now within an age which is dominated by social media, people don't have to be out on the street to be seen in the latest items. With everyone wanting to be on trend, The Basement’s mixed background helps the hardcore fans – both new and old – to gain more knowledge.

How would you describe the culture of members?

Peter Mitchell: The culture of The Basement is varied but centred around fashion. There are people from different backgrounds within the group that can afford to buy into ranges of fashion from high end to streetwear, but from the different cultural backgrounds of the members everyone can bring something new to the table. It’s been interesting watching cliques form between members, and I think that shows how powerful The Basement is when connecting people. 

How would you describe an average member?

Peter Mitchell: This isn’t an easy question to answer because I’ve watched the group grow since day one, and over time the average member has varied too much. Since the majority of SupTalk instantly jumped right into The Basement I'd say the average member would be late teens/early 20s, on their streetwear heavily, pretty active within the group, probably London-based. However, now I think the average members is new to what ever attracted them to The Basement and are learning from other members. You actually see people's styles change over time. 

What do you think you can learn hanging out in there? 

Peter Mitchell: Anything and everything you can learn from the group... the members tend to prefer searching on The Basement asking questions and hearing responses than simply using Google. Whether or not it’s useful you'd still get a response, for example people ask what brands do the best denim, what songs to listen to in a certain genre, what brand was a celebrity wearing – there will always be one person that will help a member out. 

“People ask what brands do the best denim, what songs to listen to in a certain genre, what brand was a celebrity wearing – there will always be one person that will help a member out” – Peter Mitchell

What makes The Basement different from other online streetwear communities?

Peter Mitchell: I find that the mutual respect level in the group makes it different to any other group. We have been strict with members from the start and I feel this has really helped to keep everyone grounded and brought people closer together to the stage where they can genuinely become friends. #basementfam

Any unexpected places you’ve bumped into a Basement member?

Peter Mitchell: Riding down the street on a Boris bike and someone pulls up in a Porsche and shouts Basement Fam because of the tee I was wearing at the time. Which was unexpected but I work at FootPatrol which brings a lot of tourists through who sometimes happen to be members in The Basement. It’s not so much an unexpected place, but surprising to see how far the group touches down.