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The hottest streetwear trends for 2021

We take a deep dive into how this year's hero categories performed and where these streetwear trends are heading next.

In a category that continues to disrupt the market, we take a look at themes across recent collections, which trends the biggest streetwear brands are backing and what to keep top of mind moving into 2021.

Reach out to learn how your business can monitor the performance of successful streetwear trends and take the guesswork out of range building.

Current overarching themes

Sports influences

Influences of rugby, soccer and baseball run rampant throughout streetwear collections and Instagram posts. Long-sleeve striped rugby shirts are available at Obey and Huf. KITH teamed up with MLB earlier this year for a capsule of apparel and accessories and Patta regularly collaborates with Umbro. Infuse sporty notes into upcoming merchandising stories to capitalize on the momentum.

Cozy feels

Tactile fabrics are being leveraged in all market segments this season, from mass to luxury labels. Sherpa has been a widespread favorite for streetwear fanatics – noted on products from jackets to bags. To visually break up the design, material block with nylon or denim and give the garment more mass appeal. Honorable mentions across cozy fabrics include corduroy, fleece and shearling.

Adventure time

Explorer themes were spotted all over the Spring 2021 runway, so it comes as no surprise that streetwear labels are already picking up the story. Utility vibes are at the heart of this trend primarily due to their functional nature. Look to cargo trousers, printed short-sleeve shirts and bucket hats for inspiration. Keep clothing fits loose and fabrics lightweight in the approach up to summer.

1. Plaid shackets

Current state:

This shirt and jacket hybrid has steadily noted investment across the market since late last year; nevertheless, it seems this silhouette is more popular than ever in streetwear circles. A trend that serves board culture aesthetics particularly well, it is perfect as a layering piece paired with a graphic T-shirt or hoodie.

To consider for 2021:

Utilitarian themes and industrial hues will be more pronounced in spring and should shape your approach to the shacket. Trade fall-favored checks for solid shades of khaki and olive. Comfort should be front and center when designing updates and the addition of buckles, chest pockets and straps check both function and fashion boxes.

Instagram L-R – Neighbourhood, Off-White, Huf, Bape, The Hundreds, Billionaire Boys Club

Mass market interpretations:

2. Printed loungewear

Current state:

It’s no secret that loungewear reigns supreme in streetwear – and even more so now consumers are relegated indoors. Traditionally basic silhouettes like hoodies and joggers are now littered with motifs, text graphics and logos. A step up from solid selections, this approach not only gives the garment a more unique feel but is an opportunity to play into branding trends as well.

To consider for 2021:

Streetwear brand Fear Of God had immense success with the turtleneck sweatshirt in its Essentials collection, arriving and selling out on the same day across several retailers. This silhouette holds even more appeal after backing from Prada earlier this year and investment from a slew of mass market retailers. Refresh your standard crewneck or hoodie offering with an embellished turtleneck and matching joggers.

Instagram L-R – OBEY, Liam Hodges, Palace, Billionaire Boys Club, Vetements, Awake NY

Mass market interpretations:

3. Varsity jackets

Current state:

Nearly every streetwear brand is stocking and promoting this collegiate-inspired outerwear style this fall. Major players including Kith, A Bathing Ape, Supreme and Stüssy are all leading the charge, pushing silhouettes with leather sleeves, striped trims and chest logos. Preppy releases like The Queen’s Gambit and the Gossip Girl reboot are putting further spotlight on varsity looks and TikTok subculture Dark Academia has also played a significant role.

To consider for 2021:

If you’re a retailer looking to increase your gender-neutral offerings, this trend is the perfect place to begin. Push marketing features with both men and women rocking the trend. Hermès featured a striped-trim leather bomber in its Spring 2021 collection, a simplistic interpretation with more commercial appeal.

Instagram L-R – Billionaire Boys Club, Supreme, Human Made, Stussy, Bape, Golf Wang

Mass market interpretations:

4. Graphic sweaters

Current state:

Knitwear received a fresh update this season as several streetwear labels dropped graphic pieces, a cold-weather twist on the always-popular graphic tee. Vetements presented a monogrammed logo option while Off-White played up its logo with a skeleton. Palace and Golf Wang both experimented with color and Needles designed a style with butterfly graphics – a fashion-forward motif stocked at several retailers this season.

To consider for 2021:

More and more streetwear labels are incorporating cardigans into their assortments. An ideal loungewear alternative, the trend is perfect for working from home, layering or dressing up to go out. Cardigans also feed well into the prominent Cottagecore aesthetic trickling down from TikTok and celebrities. Buy into neutral or pastel palettes for a springtime twist.

Instagram L-R – Palace, Vetements, Off-White, Golf Wang, Needles, Awake NY

Mass market interpretations

5. Cut & sew blocked garments

Current state:

Already a hot trend in the luxury space, lockdown has further propelled the desire for deconstructed looks. The trend is versatile in application and lends itself well to a variety of stories. Vetements, Human Made and White Mountaineering all opted for an edgy workwear interpretation. Visvim, BAPE and Yuki Hashimoto took a different approach with smart button-downs and knitted outerwear.

To consider for 2021:

Retailers can leverage the cut and sew approach to create newness from deadstock fabric or recycled stock. This not only promotes sustainable methods but will also leverage all existing resources. Look to short-sleeve button-downs and lounge shorts for spring 2021 and transition into knits and outerwear next fall. Consider tailoring silhouettes next fall as well for a contemporary utilitarian story.

Instagram L-R – Vetements, Yuki Hashimoto, Human Made, Bape, White Mountaineering, Carhartt WIP

Mass market interpretations:

Future focus: Sustainability

In the past, streetwear labels have pioneered some of today’s most prominent trends and are looked to as a source of inspiration among mass brands. However, sustainability is perhaps one of the industry’s biggest buzzwords and can no longer be ignored by this market segment.

What is Intersectional Environmentalism?

Covered extensively in our blog rethinking sustainable fashion, this term is described as “an inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet.” The reality is, people of color are constantly on the receiving end of the harmful effects stemming from fast fashion production.

The Hundreds

How does this involve streetwear?

Often flying under the radar due to its small scale compared to big brands, streetwear is still a far cry from eco-friendly. Its business model sees labels buying limited runs of blank T-shirts and hoodies to turn them into billboards for their brand. However, major players in this space like Supreme and Off-White are no longer a drop in the bucket and have built empires among these consumers. The weekly drop cycle employed by most of these brands has also encouraged rapid consumption, which directly negates sustainable initiatives.

What’s next?

While streetwear has established itself as a platform for social causes, climate change will be next on the agenda. Fundamental cornerstones that brands should keep top of mind are designing products with sustainable and recycled materials, avoiding overproduction, encouraging decreased consumption, and leveraging influence over a younger generation as a call to action.

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