They obsess. They wait in line. Their parents are ashamed of them. They're a cultural subset bound together through a common niche interest. No, these aren’t Hypebeasts. These, my friends, are Bronies.
After watching the documentary Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony, which recently made its way onto Netflix, it became readily apparent that the parallels between sneaker/jawns obsessives and grown men interested in My Little Pony run deep. The vehicle behind each community is simple: There is a product and a desire to consume said product. But take away the content and the only thing separating Brony and Hypebeast obsession is simply that it's a bit easier to tell people you collect Nikes than to sing them a song from a television show intended for 5-year-old girls.
I admit, even after viewing the documentary, I still haven't watched a single episode of MLP. I can take it on faith that when Bronies proclaim that the writing on the show is fantastic, that it's true. I mean, for my sake, it doesn't matter much anyway. Like sneakerheads, Bronies love to defend their obsession/addiction by selling outsiders on the idea of it. Bronies rely heavily on the moral lessons served up on their favorite show, which teach tolerance, caring, sharing and all that good shit. Hypebeasts preach that cool sneakers and clothes are inherently valuable to culture and design and, in some cases, that they're works of art, much like My Little Pony itself. But, either way, this need to proactively explain to others—to justify—why exactly this particular interest need exist at all stems from an inherent insecurity.
This social nervousness, certainly more severe in the case of of Bronies (after all, these are men fighting hundreds of years of gender norms quite aggressively), manifests itself in the form of communities. Here, members take solace in knowing that everyone at a particular, incubated venue or event has a similar interest, and thus may take a break from "normal society" to indulge upon their every whim. Hypebeasts have their sneaker conventions, but also find validation in weekly or monthly line-ups for the latest release. For Bronies, it's hard enough to even find brethren within their literal communities, as so many live in rural, conservative areas of the country. Of course, there's the Internet, but that is only a temporary fix. As a result, Bronies save up all of that pent up energy for massive, grandiose celebrations known as "Bronycons," where costumes are donned, music is played, and heroes (actors and creators of the show) are met. Regardless, the desire to let loose amongst one's peers and just nerd out is unquestionably the same amongst both groups.
Of course, at a certain point, the similarities end. In the case of Hypebeasts, they're buying hyped up shit because they think it will make them "cool." New Jordans or a Supreme box logo tee are supposed to give the wearer a sense of elitism, that feeling of "I have something that the average person does not have." They seem to be fighting against their nerdom on a day-to-day basis, whereas Bronies are embracing it whenever they can. They know wearing anything My Little Pony related, or just putting their passions on display, will have the exact opposite effect on their "cool" status, instantly informing the public that they are a true outsider with interests as such.
In that regard, Bronies actually have less to prove to one another than Hypebeasts. While there's a competitive and, once again, elitist nature to copping rare gear, for Bronies, the only competition is finding people in this cruel world that will accept them for them. Bronies are united in their passion, while Hypebeasts seem to need their peers only to validate their own purchases. Buying shit is very much a solo sport. At the end of the day, it's capitalism that is the driving force behind Hypebeasts. For Bronies, the most valuable currency is an open mind, and heart.