Streetwear is so ubiquitous that its name doesn’t really do it justice these days. It’s no longer just for skaters oblivious to fashion. Nor is it a cooler-than-cool subculture for people who wear everything first. Right now, streetwear is a certified menswear phenomenon, mainstream fashion and haute couture, price-tag depend.
For proof this statement isn’t a load of hype about hype, you only need to look as far as the luxury world, in which titans like Burberry and Louis Vuitton have swapped tradition for ultra-stylised comfort and utility.
If you want to inject the same level of swag into your line-up but don’t spend your days tearing up half-pipes, we’ve got seven expert-approved ways to level up your streetwear game for the coming season. And the good news is that streetwear is made for autumn-winter: layering, oversized fits, different textures and weatherproof sneakers.
Outdoor Performance Gear
The outfits worn at Fashion Week and the outfits worn while attempting to summit the actual Mont Blanc are usually two very different things. Not this season, though. Streetwear’s trailblazers all have one thing in common: they’re decked out head to toe in high-performance outdoor gear.
“The fascination with outdoor gear has been slowly building, but now it’s starting to peak,” explains Tayler Willson, online style editor at MixMag. “People used to laugh if you wore a pair of shorts with a big coat, but it’s now becoming common practice. Meanwhile, the type of clobber that used to be worn by your old man on Sunday walks is being paraded down the catwalk.”
At the core of this shift is the streetwear scene’s obsession with utilitarian design, performance labels and technical materials. Gore-Tex, for example, is a functional fabric that we’re increasingly seeing being repurposed by designer labels. Meanwhile, brands like Arc’teryx and The North Face are now just as prevalent at the fashion shows as they are on the mountainside.
The ugly sneaker trend birthed by Raf Simons, popularised by Balenciaga and milked dry by quite literally everyone else climaxed long ago. However, while bulky, platform-esque silhouettes may be dead in the water, maximalism in general is still very much afloat.
“The Raf Simons x Adidas Ozweego truly catalyzed a shift toward overstated footwear,” says Highsnobiety footwear editor, Chris Danforth. “As sneakers became a bigger business for fashion houses (nearly every major fashion house has introduced an original sneaker silhouette in the past 2-3 years), we started warming up to the idea of a statement sneaker, something that would be the ultimate outfit accentuation.”
The new breed of over-engineered sneakers gaining traction is just that. These kicks boast just as much detail as a Balenciaga Triple S, yet are less likely to make you the butt of jokes down the pub. Look to the unprecedented levels of hype around the Nike x Sacai LD Waffle, for example. Or the re-emergence Nike Shox, particularly in the UK scene.
’70s Textile Takeover
In keeping with menswear’s fervent idolisation of your dad’s duds, streetwear has started copping classics that your old man’s been wearing for years. This time though, it’s not the turn of the millennium that’s being plundered, but the murky depths of the seventies.
“It’s now fashionable to look like your dad’s slightly sketchy best friend,” says Oliver Winn from Sunderland-based menswear independent Aphrodite, which stocks brands such as Stone Island and Vans. “Thick suede and fur-lined garments are starting to become as essential as a fresh pair of AF1s.”
Bear in mind that there’s a fine line between full Saturday Night Fever and contemporary streetwear skuz. To land safely in the latter category, you’ll need to go easy on the vintage threads and stick to the one piece rule. A fur-lined aviator or fleece worn over a tracksuit is all you’ll need to nail the look. Who knew looking so knowingly disreputable would be such a cinch.
As we transition into the ’20s, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that skinny fits will be remembered as one of the hallmarks of the last decade’s style. However, silhouettes have been expanding for a good few years, and we’re now seeing a definite jump towards pure, unfettered bagginess. Nowhere more so than in streetwear.
“It used to only be in Shoreditch or Soho you could get away with loose cuts without being heckled as a goth, but thankfully that’s changing, says Willson. “There’s a mix of both Japanese and American fashion influence in this, as well as the obvious old-school ’90s skater cues. Boxy tees, wide-legged trousers and oversized garments aren’t going anywhere.”
This new breed of cut isn’t just wide, though. Cropped and cuffed jeans and trousers are losing ground in favour of longer, baggier styles that cover the tops of sneakers. Hoodies and sweatshirts are being worn several sizes too big to achieve a baggy fit, and in general, dressing like a character from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is cool again for the first time since your 13th birthday.
Trail-Running Gear (Still)
Despite style observers harping on about them for seasons, trail-running shoes – and the gear championed by the brands that make them – are only getting bigger. This season, ergonomic designs, technical detailing and generally taking your wardrobe cues from an ultramarathon runner has never looked or felt so good.
“There’s solace to be found in the idea that what you’re wearing can perform a function, if needed,” says Danforth. “Outsole tread, supportive cushioning, weatherproofing like Gore-Tex, or an anatomical fit are all factors that will keep your feet happy.”
As long as hydration vests and wraparound shades are given a wide berth, incorporating the odd bit of fitness gear into a functional wardrobe is actually fairly simple. Footwear-wise, a pair of purpose-built trail runners from the likes of Salomon or Hoka One One would make a good day-to-day sneaker. Particularly when paired with other streetwear-leaning staples like baggy cargo trousers, a hoodie and a thick-pile fleece gilet.
Historically speaking, delicate knitwear and streetwear don’t really go hand in hand. However, pullovers featuring punchy, retro logos and intricate graphic designs are beginning to come onto the scene in a big way.
“In terms of fads, this shows no signs of slowing down,” says Willson, “especially now the likes of Off-White, Raf Simons and Balenciaga are getting in on the action, too.”
Graphic knitwear is vibrant and eye-catching. This considered, if it’s to be pulled off without causing any migraines, it should be worn as a statement piece. This means keeping the other parts of your outfit stripped-back and simple while letting your jumper do the talking.
Being transparent is not usually something many would take pride in, but for the streetwear set this season, showing your motives is all the rage. Translucent materials have from gone laughably impractical to absolute essential, giving the streetwear crowd greater chance to show off their carefully curated brand line-up.
“The allure of translucency is in being able to incorporate your own personal touch underneath, so in translucent trainers could go out there with it with a neon pair of socks,” says stylist and photographer Chris Tang, who has worked with the likes of Liam Gallagher and Theo Walcott. “Lots of bags been crafted from translucent materials too, and there are even translucent luggage sets if you’re open to showing what underwear you’ve packed.”
Copping a pair of see-through kicks might sound easy, but it’s categories like outerwear where things get a little trickier. Just make sure the rest of your outfit is in a simple palette (read: navy, grey, black, khaki, cream). Unless that is, you’re looking to get papped at fashion week, in which case, go for batshit crazy neon as your base.