A new HBO Max competition show attempts to bring streetwear to a mainstream audience.
Rikki Hughes, the producer of HBO Max’s new streetwear competition show The Hype, can hardly believe her program is the first of its kind. “You have television shows about Alaska fishing,” she says. Meanwhile, streetwear—only one of the dominant forces in contemporary fashion, and the obsession of every advertiser’s dreamed-about 18-to-34 demographic—hasn’t yet had its moment on TV. Now, though, streetwear is getting what might be its very first dedicated show in The Hype: a series that takes the successful format of Project Runway and Amazon’s Making the Cut and piles it high with hoodies and all-over prints.
The Hype, like those other shows, takes the form of a fashion competition. A number of contestants who already own moderately successful streetwear businesses compete over the course of eight episodes, typically consisting of a single challenge, to emerge victorious with a $150,000 prize. Contestants design graphics on computers, embroider jackets, and sew garments together; eventually, they present to a panel of judges. The mainstay judges—stylist Marni Senofonte; Bephie Birkett, the co-owner of Los Angeles retailer Union; and Migos member Offset, who also produces the show—are joined throughout the series by a rotating cast of their famous friends like A$AP Ferg, Wiz Khalifa, and Cardi B. The idea, Offset says, started from of a general desire to do something, anything around streetwear and eventually narrowed to this particular competition format. “We just landed on this concept,” he says. The competition style and different challenges, he explains, were a way to gin up excitement for this world.