Everything is now a community. I think that’s the biggest thing that changed. It’s not a brand dictating to the community what’s cool anymore. Nowadays it’s much more about being able to understand what bubbles up from the community and being able to take that and turn it into something you can stand behind and own. That’s why somebody like Virgil Abloh is so successful, because he’s so entrenched in his community. That’s why he DJs four times a week, not because he needs the money, but because he understands that more than anything, he is interacting with this community. We see our audience as a community, and ourselves as an interactive part of that community.

David Fischer in the Highsnobiety office in New York City
David Fischer in the Highsnobiety office in New York City.
Image: Heather Sten for Quartz

It’s actually quite shocking how fast the site got traffic. It was early 2005, and I was studying business at the time. It was my last semester so I didn’t have a lot of courses left. I started reading US blogs, just the few known blogs that were kind of out there at the time: Engadget and Gizmodo and a few other of the bigger ones. It was really much more an interest in how blogging works: “Oh, here’s Blogspot.com which allows anybody to sign up to have a blog. What am I going to do a blog on?” I did it on a topic that I cared deeply about, which was streetwear and sneakers.

It started really with my personal taste. I was a young guy interested in fashion, sitting in Europe. Fashion in Europe means high fashion, or luxury fashion. But then at the same time Highsnobiety was so much about Japanese and American streetwear and sneakers. It really was just a fusion of those two passion points of mine. Fusing what the US did that Europe didn’t understand—sneakers, graphic t-shirts, baseball caps, hoodies—but then matching that with a beautiful Louis Vuitton bag, or a pair of Dior denim.

There was no Facebook, no Instagram. Myspace wasn’t a traffic driver, and it was weird anyway. There was no Twitter. There was no YouTube. There was really no way of getting people onto a website outside of Google search and a couple of lifestyle fashion forums—and there you could drop it occasionally, but I wasn’t going around like, ‘Hey, read Highsnobiety.’ After a few months, I had like 500 people a day, then 1,000 people a day. In late 2005, I remember I met my wife, and I kind of impressed her when I said I had 3,000 people a day coming to this website.


Our business consisted entirely of banner advertising sales. Brands started coming to us and they said, “We’d love to be part of your content,” giving us assets to publish around certain products that they were releasing. The next step was, “Ok look, your assets don’t really look native to our environment. Why don’t you have us shoot some of the pictures, because we’re convinced that then the articles will perform even better?” So we started shooting the product, or we started shooting lookbooks and certain things for brands. Suddenly, we were doing all these different services for brands which we had never done before, and it allowed us to work in a much more integrated manner.

At Highsnobiety, sneakers, streetwear, and fashion have always been one culture.
At Highsnobiety, sneakers, streetwear, and fashion have always been one culture.
Image: Heather Sten for Quartz

Now, it’s gotten to the point where they come to us, “Ok we want to be relevant for your user. Who do we need to collaborate with? What artist, designer, or brand should we team up with to make sure that our product is seen by this type of tastemaker audience that you guys are reaching?”

The next step that you’ll see a whole lot more of is commerce, from April next year. We really wanted to take what we’re good at from the publishing side, which is curation and being very specific as to what we like, and build a commerce model around that. You’ll see us retailing and producing product.

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