New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Breeding entrepreneurship at NYU: Wesley Breed’s streetwear universe

Wesley Breed, Gallatin student and TikTok creator, has become an Asian streetwear pundit in NYU’s fierce fashion and social media scene.
Jason Alpert-Wisnia
Gallatin junior and content creator Wesley Breed. (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

In between classes and studying, Gallatin junior and fashion content creator Wesley Breed is in brand-deal meetings with media companies, or writing the script of his next closet tour TikTok.

Breed, who goes by @needforbreed on TikTok and Instagram, has accrued almost 300K and over 150K followers on each platform, respectively. His content, consistent in its clean editing and essay-like exposition, is diverse. Recently, he’s reviewed seasonal collections, like UNIQLO’s new HEATTECH LifeWear collection and demystified the luxury fashion and lifestyle conglomerate Ralph Lauren by charting the brand’s universe of sub-labels.

@needforbreed Stay comfortable as the weather gets colder with #UNIQLOHEATTECH, which is an innovative fabric that absorbs moisture from your body to generate and retain heat. Layer tastefully without the need for any unwanted bulk! #UNIQLO #LifeWear #UNIQLOpartner @UNIQLO USA #needforbreed ♬ Sunny Day – Ted Fresco

TikTok’s algorithm, Breed says, is difficult to predict — much of the platform’s content can seem mindless, designed to provide momentary entertainment. But Breed attributes his account’s growth to thoughtful content with a clear narrative. 

“My content has always been longer and it’s always involved a very personal connection to me,” he said. “Having it as a story…it’s like you’ve come along with me.”

In Breed’s hometown, Longmeadow, Massachusetts, he said lacrosse-inspired preppy-wear was the style of choice. He began posting “Thrifting With Wesley” videos on TikTok during the pandemic, filming himself exploring his hometown’s vintage clothing scene that diverged from the buttoned-up presentation he was used to.

“It’s so cliche to say, but starting is the hardest part,” Breed said. “There was a time where I was putting so much time into these videos and they were getting no views. Luckily the views caught on. I feel very fortunate to have such…an immediate audience.”

Growing up with his Korean grandmother’s strong presence in his household kept Breed’s Korean skills in check. Now, while earning a Korean minor at NYU, he says that his familiarity with the language has helped him better understand the tsunami-like onset of Korean fashion, media and culture in the West—a phenomenon known as Hallyu or “Korean Wave.”

Breed’s been riding this wave too, as he’s begun to lean into Asian streetwear’s freshness and simplicity, citing the Seoul-based brand Andersson Bell as his current inspiration. The brand builds on the wearable, comfortable styles of Scandinavian fashion houses like Acne Studios and OUR LEGACY, for consumers in both Eastern and Western markets. 

In one video, Breed suggests other South Korean clothing brands like Andersson Bell for his followers to try. The designers he lists often flirt with traditional menswear conventions — brands such as WOOYOUNGMI, blackmerle and ADERERROR, which he called an “Asian streetwear giant.”

Breed transferred to NYU at the start of his sophomore year from Emory University, his parents’ alma mater. 

“I wasn’t really jiving with the flow of where other people were going,” he said. “I’ve just met so many more creatively driven people [at NYU] with a lot of stuff going on outside of school, which I think was very healthy for me.”

Members of Generation Z, like Breed, feel just as inclined to start businesses or become entrepreneurs as they do to work a corporate 9-to-5 job. Breed says that being at NYU and in the city has given him access to more business opportunities, making it easier for him to explore what his life could be like as a content creator while still chugging along with his responsibilities as a student. 

Despite the opportunities that flood his way, Breed is disciplined about prioritizing his school work before socializing and content creation. Right now, he’s figuring out whether he could make influencing a full-time gig, or if he should move into adjacent roles with a more steady stream of income, like joining fashion partnership teams at tech giants like Meta, for example. 

“I want to see if I can get to a point where I can sustain myself in New York just on social media after I graduate,” Breed said. “I don’t have to immediately go corporate after I graduate, but hopefully by that point, I can leverage my position to be in the media industry.”

Breed added that companies are always on the lookout for Gen Z creators who enable them to sensitively tap into youth markets by creating content that Gen Z will actually engaged with instead of what corporate executives imagine this group to be interested in. 

Breed spoke about his positive experience making a video with eBay that gave him almost full creative freedom. Being in the driver’s seat allows Breed and other creators to both have their work in a format suitable for corporate media usage, but that is still authentic to their personal brand. 

For now, Breed is actively learning in class and applying it in the real world. He’s meeting people passionate about the same things he is and having fun doing it. He’s light-hearted about his future and ready to take on what comes his way.

“My worst nightmare is that I’m an influencer at 35,” Breed laughed. “But then again, maybe culture will change and that will be normal. I have no idea what the future looks like.”

Jason Alpert-Wisnia contributed reporting.

Contact Sabrina Lee at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Sabrina Lee
Sabrina Lee, Identity & Equity Editor
Sabrina Lee is a senior majoring in Journalism and Public Policy. Born and raised in Singapore, she is interested in evaluating questions of culture, identity and community in our changing world. Outside of work and school, she’s building Pinterest boards, cooking meals to replicate tastes from home, or perched on her fire escape.
Jason Alpert-Wisnia
Jason Alpert-Wisnia, Editor-at-Large
Jason Alpert-Wisnia is a junior majoring in Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts, primarily focused on photojournalism and documentary photography. His photography ranges from coverage of professional sports, to political protests and music festivals. When he is not pounding the pavement with a camera in his hands looking for the next story, you are likely to find Jason in a used bookstore looking for rare finds or in the park reading. You can find him on Instagram @jasonalpertwisnia and contact him at [email protected].

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