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The group is still categorized under Facebook’s Buy and Sell category but now trades much more in the emotional well-being of its members by supporting lively (and loving) discussions. Hate-free discourse is an occurrence as rare as a unicorn these days; comment sections on other streetwear sites like Hypebeast devolve into in-fighting, with responses like, "man get the fuck off this website you old fool," and "Slap yoself and yo mama." In contrast, The Basement boards read like a group of friends keeping in close contact, rather than several thousand unconnected — and uncaring — streetwear fans.
The Basement was founded by Peter Mitchell out of Liverpool, England and now counts streetwear fans from across Europe and the US among its members. The community refers to itself as the Basement Fam, and while streetwear is still an essential ingredient to the group’s success, there’s also a large helping of members looking for guidance on how to deal with ex-girlfriends, where to go on road trips, how to get un-grounded, or how to find themselves.
One member took to the boards to write about how the community helped him overcome struggles with his weight and self-confidence. "The fact I can make conversation with people online in The Basement with such confidence whereas in real life I wouldn’t dare to is so reassuring," The Basement member writes, continuing, "I now have so much more confidence and have started to act that way in person and it’s helped me a lot." The member ends the post with a summarizing TLDR: "thank you to The Basement for helping me conquer real life fears and worries and helping me be a better person."
"Thank you to The Basement for helping me conquer real life fears and worries."
Revelations like this are common in the Basement; on more than one occasion the group has swooped in when members are dealing with situations more dire than trying to cop some fire jawns.
Harry Gray turned to The Basement when he was about to go on a road trip and needed stops along the way. The Basement was his "first and only call," he tells Racked. "Because the community is giving and they welcome forward-thinking ideas." Gray says that the community’s streetwear backbone is a big reason it’s able to provide real help when it comes to other arenas.
"The admin team sieves out the wrong people so that the community can grow strong, which leaves members with a like-mindedness of streetwear which permeates through to other forms of culture, including cool places to travel to," he explains. "It’s a community that doesn’t like gimmicks." The kinship forged in The Basement is so strong that Gray says he’s "planning on posting in the group at each major city to see who [he] can go for a pint with."
"The community is giving and they welcome forward-thinking ideas."
Jamie Walford sought out The Basement’s help after getting grounded for being, as he tells it, "two minutes past curfew." He posted a petition for Basement members to sign so he could show it to his dad, he ended the post with the hashtag "#freeJamie." "I felt fine with posting the petition in the Basement because the majority of people in there have a good sense of humour so I knew it would get support," Walford tells Racked.
And he wasn’t wrong. Walford followed-up his petition several days later to inform The Basement that he had succeeded and was now #free. At this point, the community’s sense of humor kicked in and someone quickly responded with a petition of their own: get James Walford's petition up again. "Man took down his petition, we need something to believe in," the copy reads.
Once again Walford cites The Basement’s admins for the reason the group has become more than just a place for kids to trade streetwear. "The Basement fosters the community it has because of the way it’s run," he says. "The admins help out... which leads to a community of (generally) nice people that are nearly always willing to help each other out."
Basement admin Jake Hartwell, who got involved with the site after meeting one of the group’s leaders while camping out overnight at either "Supreme or Footpatrol," also cites the generally supportive community as the reason the group has become about more than just streetwear. "I think from the start it has always been a community-based page as everyone was doing favors for one [another]," Hartwell says.
"Even if they message me at 4am and I have no clue who it is, I will do my best to help them."
And keeping tabs on the users, unlike streetwear sites like, say, Hypebeast, is no small part of the reason The Basement has flourished. "Honestly, it’s because we are such a group of honest and heartwarming geezas who run it," Hartwell says when asked how The Basement created such a camaraderie. "We listen to everyone and even if they message me at 4am and I have no clue who it is, I will do my best to help them. We have strong morals and if members join who do not follow the code that we enforce within group, they will be banned. We are not a page for those who want to discriminate, be racist, or display any sort of negativity towards another member."
The group’s leaders have also been smart to create sub-communities to keep The Basement from getting diluted. Gray cites a Basement sub-group called The Bathroom "for all the silly jokes we love on the Internet." The admins also run another group called Supreme Talk, which is probably what The Basement would devolve into without this outlet. Then there’s The Waiting Room, a group solely made up of members banned from The Basement who are waiting to get reinstated. "[It] became a community in itself, which is crazy!" Peter Mitchell told Dazed.
Admins have also organized pop-ups where members can connect and buy The Basement-themed goods. The devotion to The Basement is so strong that multiple e-shops that have cropped up on the community’s wall, catering to member’s affinity for T-shirts and sweatshirts. Shops like The Basement Pirates and Basement Approved advertise items emblazoned with different versions of The Basement logo — almost all of these products are sold out.
"I think we are ready to start the movement."
With this type of success, it’s no wonder that The Basement has started to branch out. The group recently collaborated with Pintrill, and Hartwell says there are more partnerships in the queue. "We have been putting bits out and people love it but mark our words we are working on stuff that is going to smash," he says. "I think we are ready to start the movement."
These initiatives from the admins have helped the group eclipse its beginnings as solely a streetwear group. Skimming through the boards is like a heartwarming game of duck, duck, goose. Sure, a majority of the posters are still trying to figure out where to buy a certain Supreme piece, how much said Supreme piece is worth, or trying to sell a coveted Supreme box logo T-shirt. But there’s always several examples of what truly makes the group great.
On any given night, a member might pop in looking to be comforted after his girlfriend broke up with him. Posters will file in bearing stories of getting dumped — and how they overcame it. Another member might share his triumph of getting a job that will allow him to buy a Christmas gift for his girlfriend. "I just wanted to share that with all of you," he says. "I hope you all get what you want out of life and I wish you all the utmost success."
One night, member Michael Owen posted in The Basement that he was too drunk to get home. Shortly thereafter, he received a paid notification from Paypal — the forum’s recommended method for buying and selling streetwear. But Owen wasn’t selling anything; another Basement member was just looking to buy his inebriated brother a safe ride home.
"Another beautiful basement family story," a member commented on the post, of a community that bonded over streetwear and blossomed into so much more. The group used its roots to grow into something much more important. It’s the Basement Fam now.
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