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Featured Dec 9, 2019 6 min read

Why streetwear is still relevant and how to interpret the next season’s most important trends

In a category that continues to disrupt the market, we unpack the essential streetwear trends to consider for 2020.

streetwear trends

In a category that continues to disrupt the market, we unpack the essential streetwear trends to consider for 2020.

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

The birth of streetwear up until now

Let’s get up to speed. There are two major brands credited for getting streetwear to where it is today and paving the way for today’s most hyped labels to enter the market. 

streetwear trends
Stussy

The first is Stussy, a Southern California brand started 1980. Originally a surfboard manufacturer, the brand is now synonymous with the hip-hop movement in the ’90s. The second is Supreme, established 1994 in New York. Known for collaborations with high-profile designers such as Louis Vuitton, Supreme is responsible for igniting the relationship between luxury and streetwear. It has also been credited for coining drop culture by creating items with short product runs to build exclusivity and demand.

Streetwear is not a new concept. How’d it get so popular now?

First to thank is the e-comm boom. This propelled sites in the early 2000s such as karmaloop.com to open streetwear brands up to the masses, making them more accessible for a wider audience. Then in 2005, consumers were introduced to hypebeast.com, a media site that commands 77 million page views a month and is recognized as one of the world’s pre-eminent authorities on streetwear. 

Second, through celebrity endorsement. This backing is vital for something to reach trend status and streetwear has it in abundance from the likes of Justin Beiber, Jonah Hill, ASAP Rocky and more. 

And finally, interest from the luxury sector is when streetwear really skyrocketed. The menswear Spring 2017 collaboration between Supreme and Louis Vuitton remains one of the most talked-about shows in history with items from the first drop now reselling on some sites for a price 374% higher than the original. This collaboration shed light on the spending power of younger generations and gave Supreme mainstream exposure. 

This collaboration kicked off a streetwear trickle-up effect into the luxury markets with brands such as Gucci and Fendi drawing on inspiration for their own collections. Virgil Abloh, founder of Off-White, was appointed creative director at Louis Vuitton in 2018 –  further symbolizing the influence of streetwear on luxury fashion. 

streetwear trends
Louis Vuitton X Supreme Spring 2017

Who actually buys streetwear?

While the luxury collaborations are pitched at a higher price point, suggesting an older consumer with more disposable income, it’s the Gen-Z market building this hype. Every Thursday, lines of consumers, predominantly teenage boys (some are so young they are accompanied by parents), wait at the Supreme store for the latest drop.

According to a survey by Hypebeast, 55% of consumers polled would spend $100-500 for a streetwear item and another 18% over $500. Yet when it comes to a non-streetwear item, only 40% would spend this much. About 70% of respondents in the survey reported an annual income of $40,000 or less. Still, these consumers are eager to shop. Just over half (54%) of consumers reported spending $100-$500 on streetwear each month, while another 18% indicated they spend over $500.

streetwear trends
Hypebeast.com

How to interpret next season’s most important trends

This clear demand for streetwear is why mass market brands who cater to younger consumers need to get involved. We’ve seen successful examples recently, such as boohooMAN’s SS19 streetwear inspired collaboration with rapper Quavo. This range not only offered key streetwear trends (including tie-dye, oversized tees and bold graphics), but drew on inspiration from drop culture to promote its launch. BoohooMAN had a countdown on their Instagram feed and released a few pieces early. This resulted in an instant sell out, proving creating hype for a collection is just as important as the design aesthetic.  

As mass market retailers continue to draw style inspiration from these labels, we delve into the trends currently spearheaded by the biggest streetwear brands to consider for 2020. 

Safety orange

Current State: From Aperol-hues in the Summer to safety orange in the Fall, the shade was dominant at retailers in 2019. Streetwear labels are primarily using bright orange shades in outerwear silhouettes. In a nod to hunting looks, the color is popularly paired with camouflage patterns. Supreme recently released a printed short-sleeve shirt that offers a seamless transition into Spring.

To Consider for 2020: With streetwear brands showing support, orange does not appear to be going anywhere and should be strongly considered for next year. A prominent shade already in Spring 2020 collections, safety orange provides a pop of color to any assortment from T-shirts to vests. For a more commercial use of the trend, incorporate into footwear and accessories through color-blocked sneakers or eyewear.

Sporty themes

Current State: Sports-inspired apparel has been bubbling up for quite some time, especially in streetwear. Supreme most recently collaborated with sportswear giant Nike on a range of leather anoraks, trousers and jerseys. Similar styles are available at mass retailers where customers can achieve the look for a fraction of the price. PacSun has a motorsport hoodie for $44.95, while Pull&Bear offers a bomber at £29.99.

To Consider for 2020: From varsity jackets to basketball jerseys, the trend will be key for sport and athleisure stories in Spring. Pair sporty tops with longline jersey shorts and low top sneakers for a head-to-toe look. Graphic hoodies offer an easy entry into the trend to test the interest of your consumer – see pieces from the Spring 2020 collections at Neil Barrett and Liam Hodges for inspiration.

Camouflage trousers

Current State: Camouflage trousers feature in a majority of current streetwear collections and at mass retailers. This military-inspired print is translated most often on cargo styles in an oversized fit. Vetements and Palace both offer colored-up versions of the trend, while Kith and Carhartt WIP have gone a more traditional route. Styles stocked at mass retailers are more risk averse offering providing such as sweatpants and slim-fit trousers.

To Consider for 2020: Valentino backed camouflage for Spring featuring the pattern in colorful variations on short-sleeve shirts and accessories. Ramp up promotion for the trend moving into festival season and consider alternative silhouettes like vests and button-down shirts for a utility story.

Want to see the other 3 most important streetwear trends? Log in to EDITED’s Retail Decision Platform to read our full report.

Don’t forget to sign up to our weekly Insider Briefing for the latest data-backed trend analysis. 

Research contributions by Tara Drury.