Fashion and subcultures have changed a lot over the last 30 years. More recently a new breed of clued up consumers have been ruling the retail and resale world from teenagers and “Hypebeasts” to UK Grime Artists to US Trap artists to Berlin Gangsta rappers. Covering everything from the latest hyped drops, printed publications and social media, it doesn’t take a genius to see that streetwear culture is bigger than ever before. When it comes to streetwear, the blending of genres has seen a huge surge in both affordable and designer labels coming together and creating something that’s guaranteed to get the views on Instagram and more importantly, sell out literally within seconds. Although premium designer labels have always had a street appeal, the game really changed two years ago in 2017 when the pioneers of modern day streetwear, Supreme New York, joined forces with the luxury label Louis Vuitton. The die hard Supreme fans from the 90s wondered what the hell was going on and the Hypebeast’s jumped on it like a pair of Yeezy BOOST 700 V2’s that had just been left in the street.
Above: The Supreme x Louis Vuitton collab started a massive transition from streetwear to designer streetwear.
Since the Supreme x Louis Vuitton drop in 2017 the streetwear game has changed and premium brands like OFF-WHITE have Heron Preston to name a few have taken designer streetwear to all new levels. Take a look at Heron Preston for example. The American based fashion houses’ SS19 collection ticks all the boxes for the perfect designer streetwear brand. In the collection we see a clear emphasis on sportswear and oversized fits. Titled ‘en vouge’ the latest drop includes boldly designed sportswear and eye-catching outerwear pieces. HP and streetwear fans will be delighted to see that the utility belts, vests, work shirts and chore jackets are very much the core choice for the brand and lets not forget the reoccurring camo print.
Above: The new kings of designer streetwear. Virgil Abloh (left) and Heron Preston (right).
Just when we also thought that the collaboration between streetwear and high end fashion wasn’t enough, KITH return to showcase their upcoming Versace collection. The men’s collection, headed by Lucky Blue Smith will see outerwear, formal wear and sportswear, featuring camel hair topcoats, puffer jackets, blazers, denim zip jackets and 90s inspired nylon track suits and hoodies. Perhaps the most exciting part of this collaboration is that the KITH x Versace collection spans out to over 100 pieces. Utilizing custom-mulled fabrics, such as silk, satin, velour, nylon, design was all down to KITH whilst Versace came through with the fabrics. The brands have used model Bella Hadid to showcase the women’s collection which includes, long puffer coats, silk robes, leather bottoms, biker shorts, mesh tees, and a selection of bras. The collection will launch on Friday, February 15th.
Above: The latest Kith NYC x Versace SS19 drop optimises what designer streetwear is in 2019.
So is streetwear now considered mainstream fashion? Arguably, streetwear can now be considered mainstream fashion. With it taking an influence from every crevice and corner of the industry, it’s becoming increasingly harder to stand out from the crowd. Of course the industry is forever changing and those that were shopping from leading high street retailers where considered fashion forward at the time, but jump forward to 2019 and high street shoppers have become a thing of the past. In an interview with the Financial Times Demna Gvasalia, the creative director of Balenciaga explained the changes of the industry. “The emphasis has gone from quality and craftsmanship into the uniqueness of the product,” he said. “The younger generation are looking for something that stands out and makes them special rather than necessarily an amazing finish that you would find with some traditional brands.”
Above: The Palace Skateboards x Ralph Lauren literally sold out within minutes becoming one of the most sought after drops of 2018.
Or is it just hype created by the designer brands to connect with a different audience? Not necessarily, in its 2017 report on the luxury market, management consulting firm Bain & Company observed that high-end fashion brands are “investing in luxury street wear” to attract those younger audiences. Speaking to Soledxb it’s something that PAUSE magazines’ editor, Johnson Gold, has observed. “The game has changed now. I remember back, like even for me, we used to work with models but now we just work with influencers,” he says. “They are helping brands reach a certain level of audience, and its working, and we can all see it because it’s in our faces as we scroll, and it influences us even if we talk about it.”
How long will this continue? Although you can argue that the re-sale market being as strong as it ever has been, the continuation of high end and designer streetwear is very much asking a question that no one really has the answer too. In one, the industry is thriving and with the likes of Palace Skateboards teaming up with Ralph Lauren only a few months ago and more recently Kith and Versace. Expect plenty more to come in the world of designer streetwear over the coming years!
Featured Image Credit: Financial Times