Meet Ely Kong: The anti-hype beast
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Gucci-clad with a Balenciaga beanie hat and a gothic top from his new collection, Ely Davis, or more famously known by his social media handle as ‘Ely Kong,’ sits opposite me. He is the 22-year-old owner of the ‘Ely Kong Label.’
iPhoneX and unintentionally showing off his case, plastered in stickers from Japanese clothing brand, ‘A Bathing Ape,’ Ely clicks on to some profiles of his closest friends, all of whom are equally decked out in designer and uber-cool rare vintage pieces. “About 90% of my friends are people I’ve met through the streetwear community. We share the same interests, so from day one, it was hard not to get along and feel supported in what eventually turned into a business venture for me.”
Starting nearly two years ago, ‘Ely Kong Label’, a “slightly demonic and dark” clothing brand, as Ely describes it, has been received well, with his third collection, comprising of seven items, being completely sold out in a matter of hours, just as his first and second had done. “I used to get my designs printed on to tops by Snappy-Snaps. It was trial and error. I was pretty good at computers, so I taught myself how to use Photoshop and built the brand from there.”
Moving his skater-boy long, curly hair out the way, he reveals the words “child of divorce,” written in large rhinestone letters, inspired by his parents split and a newfound admiration for anarchism. He says his line has allowed him to explore a rebellious side of his identity with unashamed confidence, pointing to a Goliath pendant on his website. “Obviously my range is based around my stylistic preferences, but it’s also heavily influenced by my social circle. They’ll tell me what things they like, and I’ll often incorporate that.”
With most of his products averaging at £75, it’s easy to forget his demographic is young too - but he believes the reselling community is a helpful entry point into fashion. “It’s great knowing that I can move on pieces I don’t want anymore. Without this process, I couldn’t afford my style and guys like me wouldn’t even stand a chance in this industry where financial backing is like finding a needle in a haystack.”
Lead image courtesy of Ely Kong
Image courtesy of Ely KongWith over 16,000 followers on Instagram and spotlighted as a brand to look out for by one of the largest online streetwear magazines and reselling communities, Basement Approved, he represents the underestimated powerhouse of the young streetwear entrepreneur. A far cry from the gloriously broke student life that existed before the millennials arrived; not conscious of how much pasta they can buy with their maintenance loans, but rather if they’ll have enough for the latest Supreme drop. Gone are the days of smugly showing off the bargain purchase made at Oxfam, instead, a new person has arrived: the hype beast, “an individual that only rocks trending styles at the time or clothes which have been chosen specifically to impress others,” according to Urban Dictionary. “I would queue for hours outside Supreme every Thursday to purchase whatever piece was the most popular that week, but I’ve matured. I’ve developed my own distinct personal style and carefully chosen pieces that represent me more accurately,” Davis says, assuring me he’s a far different person from his 2016 ‘hype beast days.’ He explains that brands like Palace don’t represent “the logo-obsessed poser” culture where items are purchased by “a few kids who want to look cool and relevant,” rather, they were intended for sub-cultures. “Supreme illustrates a whole aspect of society, the underground skating culture which has always been a big influence on art in London and in design. That’s the concept I will happily represent,” he says. Despite this, Ely’s go-to labels are mainly Japanese (Number Nine, Nepenthes Tokyo) and he thinks “too much of Supreme is overrated.” He uses the example of the time a concrete red brick, embossed with the famous logo, was resold for £772 on eBay (its original cost being £30)
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Image courtesy of Ely KongOpening up Instagram on his
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