The State of Streetwear

market focus
category - fashion
category - luxury
sector - fashion
sector - retail
sector - youth
sector - luxury
type - market focus
Market Focus
LS:N Global unpacks the state of streetwear and where the lucrative but crowded category is headed.

Drivers: what’s happening

Streetwear is big business. Since its popularisation in the 1990s, the laid-back style rooted in street culture, hip-hop and skateboarding has moved from subculture to the mainstream.

Streetwear’s cultural relevance is undeniable, underpinning trends in fashion and luxury to the extent that its fans began feeling that pure players were becoming too commercial, losing sight of their roots and day one communities.

‘I definitely think there’s a bit of an identity crisis in streetwear,’ Isabelle Jones, junior strategist at Highsnobiety, tells LS:N Global. US brand Supreme’s product drops, known to fly off the shelves in seconds, have started selling more slowly, while other landmark labels like Bape or Stüssy are reportedly losing ground.

Now, the cool compass is pointing in new directions and power dynamics are changing. If street-style connoisseurs are rejecting what feels like manufactured, commercially minded hype, what does the post-peak streetwear scene look like?

If new generations of consumers are slowly turning away from established streetwear giants, including the likes of Obey, Bape, Stüssy and Supreme – who are the underdogs selling the hottest commodities?

A new wave of independent brands are taking over, such as London-based Corteiz, Ghanaian brand Free The Youth and Dutch label Daily PaperNewcomer brands usually follow the classic streetwear pathway of creating logo-heavy merchandise catering for specific niche interest groups which thedevelop into a cult fan base. Think graphic t-shirts or branded objects like caps, tote bags or skateboards.

New power players have been successfully using brand collaborations without selling out their identity. The Nike and Corteiz launch is one example, while Free The Youth has collaborated with Off-White and Jordan on limited-edition products and community initiatives.

These examples demonstrate that successful streetwear brands don’t have to pick between being overly protective of their IP and cautious of leaning into commercial opportunitiesinstead, they are finding a sweet spot of organic matches for hype-boosting brand collaborations.

Published by:

19 October 2023

Author: Marta Indeka and Gabriela Białkowska

Image: Free The Youth, Ghana


Supreme, US

Reclaiming the space

Streetwear has shifted from subculture to the mainstream in the past two decades, sometimes used as a quick fix for struggling luxury brands to court younger audiencesItems like puffer jackets and hoodies, graffiti lettering and XXL logos have become common sights in high fashionLuxury’s flirtation with streetwear is fashion trends-ledelevating the category and giving the luxe treatment to street credibility.

With these streetwear codes prevalent in fashion, a host of brands are reclaiming the space and re-affirming their valuesVienna-based Rare Humans is one such labelThe brand, which started trading in 2021, has been making waves with its immersive and – unlike many drops – free events, which have thousands of fans running through the streets of the Austrian capital. What makes it different? Rare Humans is committed to embodying the streetwear lifestylesurprising fans with creative social media campaigns and one-of-a-kind community events.

Similarly, another brand that owes its enduring success to an unswerving community-first mindset is Carhartt. We try to keep our marketing and our story to the worker,’ chief brand officer Susan Hennike told The Drum. If people choose to wear it for other activities, we are very appreciative, but we believe this is because the brand feels genuine.’ In a campaign launched in August 2023Carhartt reminds its audience who the brand really serves, offering a lesson in grassroots authenticity to other streetwear brands.

‘Streetwear’s business model can adapt to a culture that cares less about novelty with short lifecycles and cares a little bit more about sustainability’
 Isabelle Jones, junior strategist, Highsnobiety

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