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Photo credit: JEZAEL MELGOZA VIA UNSPLASH

What the flex culture in Singapore is like

Figuring out why some youths seem to love flaunting their luxury brands.

Ardini Insyirah

All smiles and giggles especially when there’s music.


Published: 26 January 2021, 5:36 PM

I was walking around Orchard the other day and I couldn’t help but notice teenagers, probably in their secondary school years, repping brands like Balenciaga, Off-White and even Louis Vuitton.

In this social media age where having ‘drip’ or being fashionable is looked up to, it is no surprise that people are often using brands as a way to assert their personality and sometimes flaunt their money. 

Curious if there was more to this expensive trend than meets the eye, I began doing some research on the topic. 

What is flex culture?

To put it simply, flex culture is about being seen with goods that are known to be expensive, to show that you can afford them. Wearing these brands gives these people some kind of status, which I assume to be a good one. 

 

Dior is also a popular brand that a lot of youths are wearing. PHOTO CREDIT: CARLOS ARANDA HUNG VIA UNSPLASH

 

Flex culture may sound like a new concept, but it is essentially just a new name for conspicuous consumption, the act of outperforming peers by purchasing goods or services to display one’s wealth, fashionability and social status. 

But why does this culture even exist and what makes it so popular? I spoke to some youths to get their opinions.

“I think status and image are the motivation for people to highly desire luxury brands. It defines their success,” said 19 year-old student, Yakshini Shangkar.

Yakshini believes that these luxury items could represent something that youths have always dreamt of having from a young age. Having longed for these items, youths may feel they achieved a form of success when they are finally able to own the object of their desire.

 

Sneaker collaborations with brands like Off-White tend to be of higher value. PHOTO CREDIT: STEPHAN SCHMID VIA UNSPLASH

 

Other factors that could be contributing to flex culture are our desire for validation and our FOMO (fear of missing out). As youth, we sometimes go out of our way to fit in and get approval from the people around us, even if that means dressing in a certain way or buying certain things. 

Add that to the hype around limited edition items like sneakers, which are considered art pieces which appreciate over time, and it makes more sense why people are walking around in $1,500 shoes.

When is a price-tag too high?

One of the biggest questions people have is how these schooling youths can afford branded goods. In most cases it seems like it would take a lot of part-time work and saving up to be able to afford the items.

Interestingly, most of the youths I spoke to were not against spending hard earned money on luxury goods, if the reason for making the purchase was good.

“It’s okay when you want to make yourself happy and treat yourself, but not when you can’t afford it or if you’re buying for the wrong reasons like flexing,” said student Valerie Foo, 19. 

 

I guess you can say that sometimes money can in fact buy you happiness. PHOTO CREDIT: JACK ROWLEY VIA UNSPLASH

 

Haziq Darwisy, 22, shared a similar opinion.

The student said: “It’s okay to spend a lot. Most people spend on these things to reward themselves or spoil their loved ones. What’s wrong could be the reason behind the spending – is it to brag on social media or out of sincerity?”

“Splurging such a huge sum should be thought through thoroughly – How much do you need it? How long have you been wanting it? When would you use it? Milestone rewards like first pay, celebration for good results, are good reasons to splurge.”

While there is nothing wrong with spending your own money on the things you like, many of the youths I spoke to believe it’s important to know when you should stop. If buying the product is only going to put you in an undesirable financial position, then maybe you may want to consider putting it on hold first. 

As Jay Z once said, “if you can’t buy it twice, then you can’t afford it.”

While there are people who spend on these goods for the sole purpose of flexing, there are also people who spend on it to genuinely support these brands. These people look up to the designers and keep up with their seasonal collections the way some keep up with their favorite football team and players.

One such youth is fitness professional Muhammad Aqil, 23, who believes that spending on luxury brands is more of a reward for his hard work rather than expensive material to brag about. 

“I like spending on luxury brands because I appreciate the quality and designs from the specific designers. There’s also a feeling of satisfaction when I worked hard for a certain piece, kind of like a sense of achievement,” shared Aqil.

 

Aqil decked in Balenciaga’s Sinners hoodie and Nike X Off-White Dunks in Pine Green. PHOTO CREDIT: MUHAMMAD AQIL

 

“I would usually spend on luxury brands when it’s for special occasions like birthdays or when there’s an event so it’s more like a gift to myself,” added Aqil.

Repping luxury brands is not always done to flex. In fact, some people own them as an appreciation for these brands or as a reward for themselves. So if owning a specific brand name makes you happy then by all means, you don’t need to feel bad to flaunt it. 

On the flip side, don’t worry about what others are wearing or buying when deciding what to spend your money on. Get things that you would really want and you’ll be much happier that way.


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