Jul 2, 2016 9:05 AM

Is Luxury Cannabis Culture Myth or Reality?

As long as marijuana continues to break out from behind the closed doors, the usage of weed in fashion and culture will continue to evolve. Today, brands that make great products are developing a clear, unique, and luxurious identity based on the cannabis culture.

According to a cannabis-focused venture capital firm, the ArcView Group, the marijuana market grew nearly 75 percent in 2014, which made legal pot the fastest-growing industry in the country. There is no doubt that current developments in the process of weed legalization make it a consistently hot topic, which leads to an increasing urge to cover everything—from your clothes to your laptop—with a printed cannabis plant. This year's 4/20 in Denver was supposed to be the biggest yet since 1971.

Today, cannabis culture is not just about smoking the plant—it is about wearing it, eating it, applying it to the skin, being perfumed by it, and even simply reading about it.

But when did the green hemp leaf turn from something associated with lowbrows, hippies, and smoke-filled hip-hop music videos to a furtive wardrobe presence and a hot topic in the global culture?

After Vetements dispatched its DHL T-shirts designed by Gosha Rubchinskiy on to the Paris runway, a new line of exorbitantly-priced clothes appeared—$924 oversized T-shirts based on the vintage Snoop Dogg merchandise.

There are a lot of reasons why people spend almost a thousand dollars on a piece of cloth with the Snoop Dogg's image on it: because of the rapper's impressive solo career, his delightful personality, his career-long association with marijuana, or his loyalty in struggling for chicken and waffles chains. Or, what is actually the only reasonable explanation, because it is a product of a luxurious, streetwear-inspired label that manufactures all its products in insanely small batches in order to keep the supply low and the demand high. At the same time, the image is similar to the West Coast rapper's 1993 “Beware of Dogg” tour merchandise.

The current crux of marijuana marketing is reaching a different audience than it has done in the past. Both industries, cannabis and fashion, attract more and more creative people, thinks Zac Cohen, a founder of a brand incubator and digital agency Blank Space. He adds that it is becoming usual for him to see high-fashion clients smoking weed—it is a tool for relaxation and boosting creativity. Cannabis becomes not just a potent medicine but also something that suits a person's individual lifestyle. It is no longer associated only with pot's negative image—the manufacturers are trying to attract businesswomen and slim, athletic fashion bloggers who order sushi for dinner, drink smoothies from their special plastic bottles, and go to private parties. Prominent celebrities like Cameron Diaz, Fergie, Rihanna, and Sky Ferreira, who also enjoy indulging in weed, help them succeed in their efforts.

Of course, consumption of marijuana is not a phenomenon, but what is particularly interesting is that today, successful career people are specifically acknowledging that they are choosing cannabis consciously.

“Move over Merlot. Cannabis has arrived!” That is what the website of a Colorado-based shop Silverpeak exclaims. It also assures that a trip to the shop “can be a quick stop to pick up your favorite artisanal blend, or a fascinating education in the art and science of enjoying a superb cannabis experience.”

Most of us know someone whose idea of relaxing after a crazy workday is not a glass of Chardonnay but a toke of marijuana. And boom—the first myth about the lowbrow connotation of cannabis culture is debunked.

In the 1980s, there were certain behaviors associated with weed: promiscuity, carelessness, belonging to a lower caste. Today, you may know people who have a pack of E-Z Wider rolling paper in the silverware drawer or keep a tiny marijuana pipe at hand next to a pile of magazines.

Today, the way cannalovers talk about their vaporizers and pipes is similar to the way they used to talk about luxury cars, status watches, or tech innovations. Just look at the high-tech vaporizers Firefly: these portable, downright stealthy, and damn stylish doodads look less like vaporizers and more like flash drivers or backup batteries.

Companies like Marley Natural attempt to reconcile the plant's past with its growth potential in the future. Inspired by Jamaica's vibrant culture, the family of Bob Marley crafts a premium non-psychoactive product line—strains, accessories, body care line, and cannabis-infused grooming moisturizers—an analog of famous American Crew in the pot-friendly world. Among pot products, Marley Natural commodity is a status symbol.

Recently, the company has published its own lifestyle magazine that looks like a mix of issues of Kinfolk and Esquire. The magazine highlights the art, music, science, legal issues as though reminding us that cannabis consumers are cultured, conscious, and creative people.

Marijuana has a longtime association with the street culture. Everybody knows that HUF's “Plantlife” socks are a mandatory attribute of garment for any self-respecting skater, hipster, or reggae musician. But in the modern fashion world, the weed leaf motif is used in full by such designers as Lucien Pellat-Finet, who made marijuana leaves, skulls, and peace signs the holy trinity of his menswear 2014 summer collection; or Jeremy Scott, who included the prints in one of his collaborative collections with Adidas; or San Francisco-based company Pax, which in collaboration with menswear retailer Odin managed to redefine the future of smoking and marketed a stylish, minimalistic vaporizer for fashion customers; or Kiva that offers delicious cannabis-infused products that come in beautifully designed professional packaging. The list is endless.

Marijuana is well on its way to legalization. An industry that has long been in isolation is moving into the light. Interestingly, the recent rise of the design-minded, thoughtfully branded cannabis products has targeted different clients, from gilded youth to refined audience to successful business owners. And as long as consumers take care of their lifestyle and status, the luxury fashion industry has all chances to get its winning ticket.

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