Luxury fashion has been greatly influenced by Hip-Hop. Full stop. That is all. This is probably the understatement of the year — and it’s only February. What was once seen as a B-boy or B-girl, “urban” rapper uniform of sorts, has brought the street to the runway and shows no sign of looking back.
Streetwear brands – old and new – are now considered to be luxury labels. Traditional luxury retailers like Louis Vuitton, have hired influential streetwear designers to head up their menswear divisions. They understand that the customers they want to attract value streetwear as the most luxurious items they own. Champion, Nike and Carhartt (Carhartt WIP) have all moved from sport and workwear brands to coveted, high-value, streetwear brands that define the idea of New Luxury to Gen Z and Millennial generations.
This isn’t a flash-in-the-pan trend. WGSN’s industry trend forecaster, Laura Saunter, reports that the streetwear industry saw sales of over $133.5 billion in 2018 and it is expected to grow 3.8% by 2023. When you’ve grown up with streetwear as your “best” and most expensive clothing, it makes sense that those are the styles you would want to wear to work. So, as young people age into the workplace, they are naturally mixing softly tailored items like pleated pants with their streetwear bomber, coach and track jackets to create “new original” looks for the modern office setting.
It is Black History Month and so, to borrow a phrase, we will respect the architects of luxury streetstyle. Streetwear’s building blocks are iconic looks marked by minimalist, sculptural styles that are both “throwback” and “right now.” What started off as a niche market for Black consumers set the stage for innovators like the king of couture customization, Dapper Dan, or LL Cool J with his fresh Kangol hat. Their styles now make up a huge part of the luxury industry.
Think about this from Luxury Daily just four months ago:
- Black Americans are 20% more likely to pay more for a product that is in line with their self-image
- They are more apt to shop at high-end department stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s
- At 47.8 million strong and with a buying power that is on par with many countries’ gross domestic products, Black Americans continue to outpace spending nationally
- Black American consumers have $1.3 trillion in annual spending power
With all of this in mind, what should your new merchandising mix include? How about the simple flair of the New Era® Coach’s Jacket and the minimalist style of the Sport-Tek® PosiCharge® Tri-Blend Wicking Long Sleeve Hoodie for a comfortable street-savvy monochrome look. You can top this look with the New Era® Shadow Heather Striped Flat Bill Snapback Cap or the trending, brand new and versatile New Era® Hex Era Bucket Hat — consider it an updated LL Cool J hat. Think of mixing in the New Era® Track Jacket with your corporate wear options paired with tees such as the New Era® Heritage Blend Crew Tee or the new District® Women’s Flex Scoop Neck Tee. These tops and hats are stylish choices for both men and women.
The positive influence of diversity cannot be underestimated as the art of making and designing apparel evolves. The contributions of Black culture in streetwear and so many other kinds of fashion are honored today and I hope that influence is forever respected and never forgotten.
See you next month when we start breaking down what “contentment is the next growth industry” means. Hint: it’s an important concept with a lot of products your customers will love!