Meet Hypebeast's Most Notorious Commenter, Blanchard de Wave
Hypebeast.com's comments' section is a breeding ground for trolls, bullies and wannabes. Meet the infamous commenter who transcends these stereotypes.
Image via Complex Original
Trolls. Cliques. Bullies. Stans. Know-it-alls—no, we aren't talking about high school. We're talking about the comment section of the blogosphere. Though very similar to the sadistic, hierarchical structure of high school, it is just a tad bit darker and much more conventional due to the fact that you have people congregating together who seemingly want to be there together instead of being forced. These are highly cultivated, sometimes immensely strange communities that are built on the clearly identified and ultra-anonymous alike.
The attitude and snark is a carryover from forum culture, where just about every board from SuperFuture to NikeTalk to Hypebeast had their respective heavy-hitters, recurring trolls, and slang. Thanks to Disqus, the online comment community platform utilized on numerous websites and blogs, that temperament runs rampant all over the Internet, with some voices managing to scream louder than the others.
Hypebeast's comment section in particular is a breeding ground for group-think and negativity. With dozens of posts a week, the opportunities to try to get a word in are plentiful. And numerous people love to chime in. Most commenters don't bring anything new to the table, but for every "cop" or "easy pass" or "shit's wack," there's at least one witty thing that's actually hilarious. Then, there's Blanchard de Wave.
on Hypebeast, I'm a young Anna Wintour front row at New York Fashion Week. Except in this case, Anna Wintour's a 22-year-old black kid from the Westside of Los Angeles.
As his Disqus profile attests, Blanchard has left 3,580 comments since joining the community in June 2013. His claim to infamy? Persistent comments that always included his Instagram username, left dangling at the end like an email signature. Most of the comments consist of one word contributions, like "good" on an adidas Originals lookbook or "Fire" on a post about Jordan 5 retros, but he's pretty consistent about leaving his Instagram name.
For the record, Blanchard de Wave's attempt to build an Instagram following off of his Hypebeast comments has garnered him a decent audience of almost 2,500. His Instagram posts are far more sporadic than his Disqus ones, and trace back to January 2013. He posts about once or twice a month. Blanchard also uses his personal account to push his fledgling streetwear label, the BMX-inspired Solid Gold Bike. His personal account has significantly more followers than his brand's Instagram, which is only at around 550.
The prolific commenter even has several parody accounts flipping his name or his face. One goes by Blanchard de Slave, another goes by Blanchard de Nazi, complete with an avatar that adds a swastika and poorly-drawn Hitleresque mustache to Blanchard's face. Yet another—formerly posting under the name "Blanchard de Bear"—has an avatar featuring Blanchard's face with exaggerated lips that draw on stereotypical black caricatures.
Yet despite the online harassment, Disqus downvotes, and people making fun of the fact that Blanchard loves to plug his personal Instagram, he hasn't shied away from the comments section, posting as recently as a week ago. We spoke with the L.A. native about his long-standing love affair with the comments section of the online men's fashion and street culture blogs, building his personal brand and co-owned streetwear brand, and seeing himself not as a discussion-starter, but as the discussion itself.
Who are you?
My name is Blanchard de Wave (blon-shard • deh • wave) and I am 22 years old.
How long have you been commenting on Hypebeast?
I caught wind of Hypebeast around summer 2011, I think. I was starting to get serious about fashion and one day found myself googling what the top 10 fashion sites were. Hypebeast was number one at the time, so I focused in. The other sites that were listed didn't really appeal to me much for lack of content and weak themes, I guess. So after a few weeks it got cut down to like, The Sartorialist, Style.com, Hypebeast and few Tumblr blogs.
Now other than Hypebeast it's just Style.com and Complex. I didn't start commenting until 2013, though. I remember thinking like, "Yo, this could be beneficial." Especially with the things I was learning about branding and marketing. I realized that I paid attention to the Hypebeast comment section, so of course mad other people did, too. The only disconnect was that the people weren't people. So I figured if I actually voice my opinion as myself on the number one blog on the planet, people might actually become interested in me, what I'm about, what I'm doing and what I have to say. Since that thought, it’s become an everyday thing even beyond the normal tastemaker/fashion connoisseur staying up on the culture wave, like, it started getting crazy. So I got on like every single day. And I still do, even though I don't comment as much anymore.
Since you began commenting in 2013, you have 3,580 comments. That's at least four comments a day, on average. Most of your contributions are one word like "cool" or "good." Do you think you might have gotten better reactions if you had said something more substantial rather than just try to boost your personal brand?
On average, Hypebeast posts ten or more articles a day. Those four were just the only ones that deserved my acknowledgement. If twelve artists are in a room and Picasso passes through alongside the senior editor at Juxtapoz mag or something, and he singles four of the twelve artists out and says that their work was "good," that'd be the best acknowledgement they'll ever get, and that statement alone would add to the discussion of their work forever.
In the beginning when God created the Heavens and the Earth, the Earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said: “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was "good" (Holy Bible: Book of Genesis: Chapter 1: Verses 1-4). I'm not saying that it's good to gain exposure; I'm voicing my opinion to gain exposure. In those particular cases, much like God, I'm just seeing something and thinking to myself: "Yo, this is good." And I wouldn't say that those statements being so minimal equates to a lack of addition to the discussion. It's Hypebeast. I'm Blanchard de Wave. Everything I say adds to the discussion.
And a lot of the time, it's not even what the writer is saying, but what I'm saying that is the discussion. There are a multitude of times though that I elaborate on my viewpoint. Sometimes because I like the pieces in the lookbook but not the way it was styled. Other times because I hate the brand but I feel like they’re excellently manifesting their theme in fashion form. It just depends. There are countless times I didn't care to comment at all.
So, if I'm hearing this correctly, you and your commenting prowess are equivalent—to a certain degree—to Picasso's influence on art culture and God's creation of all that we know?
Prowess? No. Prowess isn't the word. Commenting isn't a skill. Picasso isn't an art culture influencer: He is art culture. God isn't a skillful creative: He is creation. Me referencing them wasn't to compare myself, but to maximize the value of the term "good."
I've never been rich. Coming up, I wasn't going to the sneaker shops to buy sneakers, I was only going to look. 50 Cent was my favorite rapper, when he made "Window Shopper," I was a little offended. I'm a fashion connoisseur by nature. My taste is Super Saiyan.
The Internet is filled with bullying. people think it's cool to be a jerk and that's the key to making a name for themselves and getting noticed. I’ve proved that theory wrong.
So what I'm saying is, on Hypebeast, I'm a young Anna Wintour front row at New York Fashion Week. Except in this case, Anna Wintour's a 22-year-old black kid from the Westside of Los Angeles named Blanchard de Wave, and I didn't get there on a flight from England, but on a Solid Gold Bike® out of Inglewood. Hypebeast was just my chalk board. You know: a chalk board is a chalk board is a chalk board is a chalk board. But sometimes you gotta put some chalk on it so niggas know what's really good.
Speaking of Solid Gold Bike®, tell us more about the brand and its vision.
I was talking to Eddie Cruz one night and he told me Solid Gold Bike® was the Supreme of BMX. I believe him.
One of the most major properties that encompass an iconic brand is its ability to transcend cultures. When a brand is getting recognition outside of its target market, they're on to something. That's what makes the Money Mayweather brand so awesome. People who don't really care for boxing feel compelled to tune in and there isn't many brands that have done this. Jordan brand did. The Michael Jordan brand is the epitome of the sport of basketball in the form of fashion and the brand has transcended cultures so much that people who don't care for basketball buy in all over the world. Same for Supreme. Majority of those kids in line for the next drop aren't going to go home after they cop a few pieces and watch skate videos all night tryna wrap their head around a new trick that will better their chances at getting sponsored. They tryna get fresh!
And it's so wild because the modern day fashion enthusiast—the niggas out here really gettin fresh, the niggas with good taste and style—in the event that they go shopping, they'll undoubtedly come across products from those and other brands that are inspired by their sport’s culture. You know what they won't come across? A fire product rooted in BMX culture that they feel compelled to buy into, despite the fact that they aren't out here on their bike everyday doing bar spins. Until now. What Armin Motomedi and I are doing is revolutionizing BMX streetwear. Remember when P & Nigo had everybody hopping on skateboards, watching skate videos all powered by BBC/ICECREAM? That's us. Solid Gold Bike® will be, and therefore is the most iconic street fashion brand in BMX culture. We have epitomized the sport of BMX in the form of fashion and the fashion that we're forming is the best the culture has ever had to offer to itself, as well as the rest of the world.
Why not link to your brand's Instagram in the comments instead of your personal account?
Kim Jones taught me that branding yourself is just as important as branding your brand. So when I started, I wasn't focusing on my own creative initiatives yet. My ideas were conceptually sound, but I was still studying the industry. I was trying to gain knowledge and build my credentials. On the blogs, staying up on the culture, modeling and styling for Nike, and managing like 25 brands at this showroom downtown to get the feel of the game. The only brand I was focused on building was the brand that is me—brand "Blanchard de Wave."
I wanted to make sure that that brand was respected and trusted first. It's almost like being pregnant: When a woman knows that she has a baby, she has to then begin to take care of herself on a new level. Not just bring the baby into the world and then learn as she goes. That's not good.
That's also why I've turned down the stores giving us offers to carry Solid Gold Bike®. I want RSVP Gallery. I want colette. I want 424 on Fairfax. I want Barneys. If they don't respect us yet, we're going to just stay at our own online store and in the streets until they do. ‘Cause once you’re represented by someone wack, you can't come back from that. Payless sneakers will never be sold for $250 a pair.
How do you feel when you see parody accounts of Blanchard de Wave popping up in comment sections? Are you humbled by it or annoyed that people might be trying to mock you?
I'm a very mild-mannered person, yo. I don't annoy easily. All the parody accounts to me are a blessing and ultimately a result of godliness. They keep my name relevant and it motivates people to speak their mind with the confidence that what they're saying will be heard. Remember when Pyrex put the numbers on the back of their pieces and all these kids with brands started doing it? It's like I was Pyrex and all the kids making parody accounts are those brands. Except, It didn't upset me like it did Kanye. Or how it seemed to have made him upset.
The Internet is filled with bullying. Especially on Hypebeast. Ironically, people probably think it's cool to be a jerk and that, that's the key to making a name for themselves and getting noticed. I’ve proved that theory wrong. It seems like everyone is fighting to be the first person to call someone a "fuckboy." And as soon as they do, the other person doesn't hesitate a second to respond even more negatively. A nigga like me? I'm Christian, yo. I'm tryna live right. The Holy Spirit of God lives in me. I know Jesus is Lord. So somebody call me a fuckboy or disagree with my opinion, firing shots back not an option. That's where the famous "I Feel You" response came from. I'd just say that whenever I got attacked. The trippy thing is, If I reacted like the rest of the world and filled my responses with "fuckboy" and "you’re a bitch," I'd probably be a nobody like the rest of them. So, praise Jesus. To God be the Glory.
Do you think you'll ever quit commenting?
Yea, absolutely. Let me tell you though, one day when I logged into Disqus to check my mail, everything I had commented for like a month had been flagged. Then, when I tried to comment again, it didn't allow me to add my "Instagram: @blancharddewave" tag. I'm the only person who does this. It's only me and the wave that I created. So if you put a stop to that, you’re trying to put a stop to me. I stopped commenting right then, for real. But not for the sake of giving someone else a chance. I stopped because I felt like Hypebeast was making a conscious effort to reject me rather than accept me and give me an opportunity to really glo up.
So I met Kevin Ma. One of my plugs set up a little situation for us to meet in Vegas. We didn't really get to converse like I wanted to and that's fine. I'm not targeting him. But I spoke to Eugene Kan before and that didn't go anywhere. I was with Armin Motamedi in New York at Agenda last year and ran into a photographer at Hypebeast that acted like he didn't know who I was. I’m like, "You don't know Blanchard de Wave!? That's despicable." If he would have been thinking instead of hating he would have realized how valuable a picture of me would have been for his career as a photographer at the time. That would have been the biggest post of 2014. It's 2015 and there still has yet to be a Blanchard de Wave Street Snaps. There still has yet to be a Blanchard de Wave essentials.
I'm doing a Complex Magazine Interview right now. COMPLEX! MAGAZINE! That's like trying out for the Drew League and not making the team and then trying out for the Clippers and replacing Chris Paul! Somebody on their staff deserves to get fired. But you know what? Everybody has to get their money and take care of them and theirs. And the Bible says don't curse so I'm not going to wish that on them. I forgive them. No hard feelings.