Merging The Lines Between Designer & Streetwear
We take a look at how streetwear penetrated luxury fashion and formed a brand new streetwear inspired subgenre, luxury streetwear. As soon as we hear the word streetwear, brands like Supreme and Stussy come straight to our minds. However, the crossover between streetwear and luxury fashion has given birth to a millennial-friendly ‘Luxury Streetwear’ subgenre where traditional luxury brands such as Burberry, Gucci and Balenciaga have stepped up their game by adopting streetwear style & clever marketing techniques through collaborations & highly profiled artists.
The evolution of streetwear from underground, sub-cultural and authentic brands to mainstream luxury escalated rapidly. In 2017, the collaboration of two powerhouses, Supreme x Louis Vuitton (probably the biggest streetwear collaboration of all time), made the alliance of traditional luxury fashion and streetwear “official”. Soon after, founders of streetwear labels were being appointed as creative heads for luxury fashion brands. OFF-WHITE founder, Virgil Abloh, was then hired as the Creative Director Menswear of Louis Vuitton. He reimagined the streetwear staples by incorporating a hint of luxury to appeal to the younger generation for LV Menswear Pre-Spring 2020. A significant shift in the fashion market was observed which gave birth to Luxury Streetwear. Brands like Balenciaga transformed into the luxury streetwear category shifting their target market from older generations to young, digital, affluent Millennials and Gen Z. Let us dive into 5 Luxury Streetwear brands that should be on your radar.
OFF-WHITE is a premium streetwear brand that has now transformed into a Luxury Streetwear label. The brand and its founder, Virgil Abloh, have gained enormous popularity in the past few years. The recent acquisition of a majority stake in OFF-WHITE by LVMH was a talking point in the fashion industry. The French luxury conglomerate has discovered the potential of investing in an upcoming fashion category that is loved by young adults globally.
OFF-WHITE is typically known for a staple silhouette with a fresh modern twist, showcasing bold graphics on items from t-shirts to sneakers, all of them emphasising on company’s trademark stripes and its name ‘White’, distinctively embossed on the product. OFF-WHITE connects to its consumer on the idea of freedom to style oneself instead of following trends dictated by others. Sadly Abloh passed away in November 2021 after battling with a rare cancer leaving a lasting legacy on the streetwear scene. The OFF-WHITE brand continues to fly the flag for luxury streetwear. Highlights from the latest OFF-WHITE collection includes ski mittens, leather sponge loafers and the brands signature diagonal arrows across sweatshirts & hoodies.
Balenciaga, founded by a Spanish fashion designer was originally known as a traditional classic luxury label. After its more recent revival, Balenciaga is now revered as a Luxury Streetwear brand for portraying an amalgamation of luxury and streetwear in a way, no other brand has ever accomplished. It is one of the most progressive, trendsetting fashion labels with an ability to create cult classics. Demna Gvasalia, founder of Vetements and the current Creative Director of Balenciaga has infused luxe streetwear, disrupted energy to the business taking it to a new level of success. Youthful, bold, edgy, and wearable are the names associated with Balenciaga as its designs focus on comfortability, functionality, and technicality to create an aesthetic appeal. Highlights from the latest Balenciaga collection includes washed baggy denim jeans inspired by the early noughties Nu-Metal scene, nylon track jackets & script logo sweatshirts.
Burberry’s new Chief of Creative, Riccardo Tisci, took the brand to new levels by targeting affluent, tech-savvy millennials and Gen Z whilst still embracing the brands’ British heritage. Tisci takes inspiration from streetwear marketing strategies by understanding the power of ‘hype’ culture and ‘cult’ status among streetwear enthusiasts. Incorporating streetwear fashion is an impeccable way for a luxury house like Burberry to get its heritage and legacy across younger generations. Burberry drops fluid, tailored clothing paired with trainers and comfy tees in their recent collections displaying a perfect blend of ‘Luxury Streetwear’. It is true to say that Burberry remains “one of the most recognisable labels” universally. Burberry’s subculture & street connection to the UK is absolutely huge from the Casuals of the early 1980s to mid 90s Britpop & the London Garage scene of the late 90s. Highlights from the latest Burberry collection includes reversible jackets which utilise the British designer brands signature check, cross-body bags in luxurious leather & cashmere knits.
Gucci, owned by Kering, a French Luxury House, has been known as the market leader of the luxury fashion industry. Under the Creative Director, Alessandro Michele, Gucci has become the symbol of eclectic styling & gender fluidity making it one of the most ‘lucrative’ and widely ‘imitated’ brands. Gucci offers ‘exclusivity through a culture inclusivity’ while appealing to all, instead of specific genders.
Recently celebrating its 100th year anniversary, Gucci ‘Aria’ presented a key collaboration in luxury fashion history by exhibiting an affair between Gucci x Balenciaga. The crossover featured sleek blazers with Gucci and Balenciaga written all over it, stunning dresses with crystal embroideries on them, leatherwork on helmets and harnesses honouring the heritage of the brand. Gucci has been growing its consumer base digitally while investing in futuristic digital trends such as Augmented Reality (AR) on Gucci application. Speaking the language of young buyers, the application by Gucci offers the viewer to try on different shoes in chic colourways in Augmented Reality (AR), enticing them to purchase the product. Some of the highlights from the latest Gucci collection include ‘All Over GG’ track jackets, leather waist bags, catwalk blazers & patterned cardigans.
Francesco Ragazzi is the genius behind the Californian streetwear label, Palm Angels. Reaching the highest echelons of the Luxury Streetwear Industry, Palm Angels started not even a decade ago. Based in Milan, the brand shares stories through its designs featuring bold prints and bright colours. Palm Angels is the seamless blend of luxury and streetwear fashion. Ragazzi’s designs are freeing, fun, creative, highlighting the happy-go-lucky attitude of Californians. The use of super-luxe fabrics and notable craftsmanship stemming from Ragazzi’s Italian roots adds ‘luxury’ to Palm Angels while the easy-going silhouettes such as t-shirts, hoodies, drop-crotch trousers with rebellious prints screams ‘streetwear’. Influential artists such as Joe Jonas, Playboi Carti and A$AP Rocky have been spotted in Palm Angels. Inevitably, Palm Angels are taking the world by storm while emerging into a legendary Luxury Streetwear label. Highlights from the brands latest collection includes ‘flames logo’ sweatshirts, ‘kill the bear’ popover hoodies & colourblock track pants.
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