The first time I saw the effect of Corteiz in real life, I couldn’t believe it.
Clint – @clint419 on Instagram – had announced on his Instagram story that he would be in Soho giving out free t-shirts, the ones with his signature “bun the rest” slogan stamped on the back. In exchange for the t-shirt, the caveat was that you had to give up a travel card. I was going to be near Soho and went down after my errands. Clint’s Instagram story didn’t specify a location for the meet-up, so when I arrived in Soho, my compass was formed by kids wearing Corteiz and walking with urgency towards the end of Carnaby street.
As I approached the end of Carnaby Street and rounded the corner, I saw a swarm of people standing outside Kingly court waving travelcards in the air, edging closer to someone or something in the centre I couldn’t see.
As I moved closer to get a better look, people in the crowd were shouting “Corteiz” whilst another person said, “give him space, give him space!”. I saw two guys dressed in all black wearing a Corteiz balaclava in the middle.
“Corteiz, what?” one of them says.
“Rules the world”, the crowd responds.
“Corteiz what!” they repeated.
“Rules the world!”
One of the masked guys throws a t-shirt to the crowd, and everyone surges in the direction it flies.
Corteiz was founded in 2017 by Clint and began releasing clothing in 2018. In under four years, Corteiz has amassed a cult following who are willing to run through the streets of Soho to get their hands on a t-shirt. In the social media age, where the competition from other clothing brands is heavy, how has Corteiz managed to stay relevant and keep a buzz around the brand?
This isn’t Clint’s first experience with a streetwear brand. The predecessor to Corteiz was CADE, which he started with his friend Ade in 2015. The brand adopted “on the map” as its slogan and gained a lot of attention on social media, laying the foundation for Corteiz to thrive. Clint was also part of APEX – a collective of creative teens who became well known for their individual sense of style and their IDGAF attitude.
This ethos runs throughout Clint’s endeavours, the idea that you can create your own lane and not give a damn what anyone else is doing. From ‘on the map’ to ‘rules the world’, the message is the same but packaged differently.
Over the weekend, we witnessed the impact of Corteiz again as Clint had his followers on the lookout for unreleased CRTZ ‘Bolo’ Jackets in an excellent guerrilla marketing activation.
Dubbed ‘Da Great Bolo Exchange’, Clint released a poster letting his followers know he would be giving out 50 unreleased ‘Bolo’ Jackets in exchange for jackets from high-end brands like Arc’teryx, Moncler, North Face, and Supreme.
The response? Mockery, confusion, disdain and shock. Why would anyone trade their North Face Nuptse for a Corteiz jacket? One Twitter user wrote, “You lot have gassed this guy up too much who does he think he is, who’s swapping stone islands for a corteiz.”
Hours later, Clint quote tweeted his original request with a photo of 50 jackets in a circular formation. On Instagram, the image featured Clint crouched in the middle of the puffers with a middle finger held up to the camera.
The mockery and confusion turned to disbelief and awe whilst the shock remained. Tweets and comments threw around words like lick, scam, marketing, genius, stupid, idiot, robbery, and finesse about Da Great Bolo Exchange. One Twitter user quoted speech from a video of the first person to swap his jacket – a Nocta that retails for $400 – for a CRTZ Bolo: “”back the jacket off broo”, the most strategic bamboozaling I’ve ever seen.”
Another Twitter user said, “Corteiz sent guys a very heavy message today Lmfaooo, there’s panic in boardrooms right now”.
If you’re wondering what the end goal of Da Great Bolo Exchange was and what message Corteiz sent, keep reading.
Corteiz founder Clint had been planning the Da Great Bolo Exchange since November last year. An idea that was supported by one of Clint’s followers dm’ing him asking to swap his North Face Nuptse for a Corteiz Bolo.
One of Corteiz’s followers putting them on the level of the North Face is significant because brand association is everything when it comes to building a solid brand. If one of Corteiz’s followers thought like this, it was likely he wasn’t alone. Clint taking this knowledge about his followers and running with it shows that he understands his audience and knows how to create an experience for them based on this.
What comes to mind when you think of Nike, The North Face and Supreme? Nike elicits words like performance, training, athletics, and their famous ‘Just do it’ slogan. The North Face will be associated with the outdoors, quality, and warmth – words that align with their mantra ‘Never Stop Exploring.’
Due to Corteiz’s guerrilla marketing stunt, when people think of Corteiz, hundreds of people willing to exchange one of the jackets mentioned above for Bolo jackets will also come to mind. This behaviour from Corteiz supporters was primed over many years with their Soho pop-up event last year and countless other pop-ups Clint has organised.
When Corteiz’s followers remember the memory of running through White City to get a Bolo jacket, that feeling of exhilaration or being part of something will come rushing back, and that’s an emotional connection. Once a brand can achieve a positive association with its core supporters, it will have an audience actively engaging with the brand and generating excitement and momentum. Corteiz has done that, in the process disrupting the positioning of high-end jackets against their Bolo jacket.
Even better, Corteiz has involved their followers in doing some good. All the jackets exchanged for a bolo, worth a total of £16,000, were donated to St. Lawrence’s Larder, a charity in London that provides meals to the homeless and now a warm jacket too.
Watch live footage of Da Great Bolo Exchange Below:
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