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streetwear isn’t dead but influencers are

Good news for hypebeasts, bad news for Insta thots.

by Roisin Lanigan
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May 22 2019, 1:36pm

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This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

For the past few months there have been rumblings in the darkest corner of the internet, whispers among those who cleared out their overdrafts to buy Balenciaga Triple S trainers. Could it possibly be? Is streetwear… dead? While the style has been taking over the world, everyone from Virgil Abloh to Kim Jones to Reddit hypebeasts have been cautiously preparing themselves for the tracksuited gravy train to come to a shuddering stop.

But look a little closer and it seems that the influence of streetwear isn’t coming to an end, instead it’s the influence of the influencers who wear it. In fact, a mammoth study which tracks the streetwear revolution said that three quarters of those surveyed actually expect the trend to grow in the next year. When it comes to who influences what they wear and buy, however, more and more tend to be impressed by musicians and “industry insiders”, than social media influencers.

Hip-hop and rap musicians in particular were identified as a main influence, followed by contemporary art and sports, identified by around 40% of respondents respectively as an important influence. Social media influencers dragged way behind, with just 32% of those surveyed identifying them as an influence on their style or what they buy. The report attributes this to a craving for authenticity among streetwear fans -- and let’s be honest, #sponcon isn’t exactly known for its authenticity.

"It found that 70% of the people they surveyed actually earned under $40,000 a year but are still willing to drop huge amounts of this income on select pieces. Perhaps this is because, as the study also reports, two thirds of those surveyed said that a streetwear item never goes out of style."

The Streetwear Impact Report, published by Hypebeast, surveyed 40,960 fans, asking them what they buy, why they buy it, and what they like and hate about the world of streetwear. Unsurprisingly for everyone who’s ever vied unsuccessfully for a Yeezy drop, footwear raced ahead as the product that most respondents would likely purchase, at 62%, followed by T-shirts and hoodies at 30%.

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Photography Maxwell Tomlinson

The multipage, seriously hefty research paper also delved into buyers’ reasonings for spending hundreds on shoes, tops and bricks. It reports that the main draws for streetwear for consumers are exclusivity, the ability to own a “status symbol”, and the sense that, by wearing streetwear, they can easily identify themselves as part of a community.

Because of the huge mark-ups that exclusive drops can be seen going for on reselling platforms like Depop and eBay, there’s a stereotype that hypebeasts and streetwear lovers are affluent, maybe even spoiled -- teenagers with more money than sense. But the Streetwear Impact Report shatters that stereotype. It found that 70% of the people they surveyed actually earned under $40,000 a year but are still willing to drop huge amounts of this income on select pieces. Perhaps this is because, as the study also reports, two thirds of those surveyed said that a streetwear item never goes out of style. So, don’t pack up your trackies yet. It seems like streetwear is going nowhere any time soon.

If you want to check out the full report, you can find it here.

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.