High-End? Streetwear…

IT’S 2017, certain aspects of life are evolving at faster rates than ever before; each day is moulding into the next. It’s gotten to a point where we’re finding it harder to pinpoint artificially manufactured issues, then differentiate in sight of problems that hold some relevance. At this moment in time, male fashion in particular has taken on a surprisingly similar image. Higher fashion has become evermore versatile, evermore applicable to streetwear-framed outfits; we see Gucci sneakers dropped with baggy Nike tracksuits over luxury brand composites. In light of this, however, there’s one huge factor in fashion that has been positively impacted; influence. Social media personalities have become far more powerful per se, if I were to drop names such as Ian Connor and GullyGuyLeo amongst others, you’d immediately relate back to their mass photo-sharing accounts whether that be in a positive or negative light.Above all, I’d foremost like to highlight a single point already made to proceed with, and develop throughout this article; the merge of higher-end brands with other genres, whether it be sports or streetwear.

Starting off, two very relevant brands that are key to this topic- Virgil Abloh’s Off White, and Gosha Rubchinskiy. Both of the mentioned designers have recently collaborated, be it surprisingly, with age-old sports brands Fila, Kappa and Umbro. Diamond logo shorts once found in school ‘spare-kit’ cupboards have been re-designed, re-vamped and re-branded to retail at £400+; so a high end price tag thrown at typically lower quality products- odd isn’t it? Well, it may not actually be as ridiculous as initially anticipated. These collaborations act as a binding process, or be it a symbol of how far fashion has come. In years gone by, brand-snobbery would direct you away from brands more commonly found in Sports Direct; it’s not shallow, thats just how it was and to some extent still is. We, as a whole want the best quality and fit; for some this works in direct relation to price-points- the highest inevitably the better. So, what better way to combine two genres with overbearing stigmas, than quite literally throwing them together? Loud, over-sized logos embellished in differing orientations remove any boundaries that luxury designers could build- a boundary to keep a collaboration centred towards their own brand. To think, sportswear brands have been featured in Fashion Weeks from New York to Paris this year; 10 years ago you certainly wouldn’t have expected anything of the sort. Fashion is changing in a big way.

To build on my last point, Champion are brought into frame. Over the last few years, our wardrobe basics staple has worked with numerous other brands on projects ranging from A Bathing Ape, to Supreme and Stussy. Their antics with Demna Gvasalia’s Vetements however, were a source of entertainment as 2016 passed by. We initially saw Vetements rip-off the well renowned Champion logo, for their oversized hoodies that we’ve become ever so accustomed to. Champion followed up by collaborating with Weekday, whose rather High Street orientated audience wouldn’t have been expecting a collection opting for exaggerated sleeves. Throwing their own twist, the ‘athletic apparel’ brand dressed the collection up in pink, brown and black; an over-dyed pastel palette kept almost within the confined boundaries of Vetements colour wheel. We were then presented the final chapter to the clothing trifecta, predictably being pushed to the point where these two brands had to release a partnered collection; further extension of sleeves and Champion trim overrunning the cuffs made the hoodies increasingly desirable. But this is asides the point, arising here are once again two brands of vastly contrasting genres coming together (albeit price increasing monumentally) to merge into this seemingly inseparable streetwear scene as we currently know it. All sorts of brands are slowly making their way towards streetwear, it’s what’s comfortable and will be for the foreseeable future.

Now onto the inevitable, Kanye West. Whether clothing or footwear is brought into conversation, his name will arise at some point, taking the sneaker-world by storm in 2016 with extensive releases towards the tail end of the year. Stepping back from repetitive uproar his sneakers caused, and will continue to cause; he’s found a way to combine higher-end with basic streetwear. Initial prices of SZN 1 ranged from a couple of hundred, to £1k+, however to see the point being made a supreme focus must be made on the footwear. As a whole, these prices have ranged from £100 for infant 350 to £419 for Crepe Boots; then £150 for adult sized 350 centering prices. This final pair is of huge importance, a shoe that has been used in every genre of fashion whether an outfit cost thousands in comparison to fifty. For many, disregarding how distasteful and boring the shoe can sometimes be viewed as, they became a staple feature for the standard outfit; relaxed sportswear, denim fanatics, technical get-ups, Yeezy have made appearances in every style mentionable. Essentially, a shoe that can’t quite be labelled, being shared across every genre to form what can now be seen as the new identity of fashion today; no limitations, no boundaries, they function as a minor detail or major feature within a market that has changed monumentally image-wise over the last 5 or so years.

SZN 5 has teased Kanye’s ‘Calabasas’ tracksuit and Adidas Powerphase sneaker, which has, and always will be likened to the notorious Reebok Workout. As an invitation to SZN 4, recipients were noted to have receive said track-pants; thus initiating this highly anticipated combination and kick-starting a Three Stripe track-pants frenzy…once again spreading across every accessible platform. He’s started to indirectly re-introduce a mentality revolving around self-expression incredibly, influencing what can only be described as a herd, aiming to dress as he does but also those outside of this following have been encouraged in other ways. Injecting my personal viewpoint into this piece, it’s encouraged ‘creatives’ to find their own guidelines or path to follow, in turn spreading individuality in an expansion of brand use and knowledge. Recently, Karhu were pictured on Kanye’s feet- a brand sidelined as it struggles to find a stature post regardless of Foot Patrol or Patta collaborative releases. This raises my recent point of exploring brands not normally associated with the relevance of Nike and Adidas, as prime suspects.

Other such occurrences and releases worthwhile to mention include a majority of H&M’s annual collections, seeing at least one exclusive designer collaborative drop per year from the likes of; Alexander Wang, Balmain, Margiela and Versace to name only a few. What would these workings be classed as? Highstreet or passed off as cheaper designer brands? The same can be asked of Raf Simons working on Adidas’ Stan Smith silhouette, where does this sit on the spectrum? What was once an everyday, typically ‘tennis’ sneaker now receives the quality treatment of plush leathers and exuberant block colouring season-in, season-out without fail. Admittedly, his other Adidas silhouettes which hold no obvious purpose other than to look pleasing, Ozweego per se, couldn’t possibly be marked down as streetwear with such high retail pricing and to some maybe a lack of historical heritage.

Streetwear and fashion culture as a whole has changed, there’s a distinct growth in resell on particular branded items such as Supreme, paired with a reduction in brand exploration. Boundaries of this genre are so wide, they could encapsulate brands at either end of the spectrum if a handful of pieces fall into line- there’s no defiant meaning anymore, which is why we struggle to label it. No longer is streetwear about an expression of self-interest, but a representation of wealth and opportunity to announce this over a variety of media formats to others. Every genre takes on this form, which exemplifies a conclusive point and metaphorical mesh amongst styles. To conclude, it must be highlighted that none of this change is negative, no interlinking should be seen as a flaw in the slightest. In retrospect, blending across genres should be encouraged instead of frowned upon; without progression nothing would be at the stage of which it is currently situated thus no new trends or brands would surface. We would get bored, a mixture of styles keeps fashion interesting; it’s an essential factor balancing an envelope otherwise stale as time passes by.

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