From gritty streets to stylised catwalks, the cultural clout of streetwear fashion is no longer limited to just hypebeasts (streetwear aficionados) and skater kids. With an industry that’s mushroomed into one valued at US$175 billion, and a secondary sneaker resale market that’s projected to be worth US$6 billion by 2025, the cache of streetwear has spawned a new global style.
The power of youth culture and the interconnectivity of social media have been the key driving forces behind the present dominance of streetwear. In the past, a trend that started in big fashion cities such as Paris, Tokyo or New York would need time to flow down to Singapore, but these days it’s instantaneous. This awareness and knowledge is something we didn’t have before, but now it’s right at our fingertips, especially among the youth.
US$30,000: Resale price of Kanye West x Louis Vuitton sneakers, the most expensive on the market.
Brands view the younger generation as the future. If they don’t convert them now, they’ll lose them as customers. Where previously a luxury brand would stay away – or perhaps limit themselves – from being associated with street fashion, today, they want to be exposed to this important demographic.
What’s also changed is how customers are hunting down drops (when a label releases new products). Sneaker aficionados used to travel overseas to get limited-edition releases, but now everything is online. Today’s generation isn’t interested in the hunt – they want to get their hands on the goods as soon as possible.
Another change-maker is the emergence of collaborations between edgy street labels and high-profile luxury brands. For instance, Supreme and Louis Vuitton’s collaboration in 2017 had a huge wow factor and set the bar high. Since then, it’s become common to expect similar tie-ups. Some names to look out for are Virgil Abloh’s Off-White, Fear of God, ACRONYM and local label and sneaker customiser SBTG, which Limited Edt works very closely with.
“The cache of streetwear has spawned a new global style”
Streetwear’s global appeal prompted myself and several other co-founders to put together a street culture convention. Into its second year, Culture Cartel’s goal is to capture the different synergies of streetwear culture, across art, toys, tattoos, fashion and music, and showcase the best of street culture in Asia and around the world.
When people talk about Asia in terms of fashion or culture, they often just focus on China. But Southeast Asia has an undeniable energy that is missing in more mature markets. There is a true diversity of voices here. If we can band together, we can become a powerhouse, maybe leading big global brands to put more emphasis on the region. This is a momentum that we can build on to try and make Southeast Asia the next big epicentre for international street culture.
Illustrations by Michael Driver
This article was originally published in the December 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine