It is 5:30 AM on a balmy Indian morning. I had woken up an hour earlier, chugged a cup of coffee, thrown on a tee and shorts slipping into my NMD City Sock. I got into my car and reached the location in about 10 minutes. The line was already there, about 75 – 100 people had queued up from a lot earlier. Some of them, even carried folding chairs and a magazine/book to read till the shutters open. The only difference is, they are all here for something the Indian Government deems necessary – an Aadhaar Card – and not for a streetwear brand’s collection release.
While you will be excused for thinking this is a story about a Supreme or Palace drop, factors like geography, relevant target audience and the Indian consumers propensity to shop during discounts have kept much of streetwear away from the country.
While streetwear is only making in-roads to India right now, it appears as though the culture/subculture/whatever you call it has already become mainstream. Brands like Supreme and Off-White have replicas in abundance in the market, even before discerning first-movers have managed to flex their originals on Instagram. To make things worse, I have come across at least 2 influencers/bloggers who wear these replicas and talk about them – because they aren’t aware of the the movement or just don’t care. What one calls appropriators. They must’ve been like hey, if Kylie and Bieber are wearing it, so should I because it is cool.
Speaking of which, if Bieber is wearing a Supreme jersey in a DJ Khaled music video then am sorry to say my friends, but the brand has already become mainstream!
Closer home while you might have a Ranbir Kapoor who knows his sneakers, there is also a Diljit Dosanjh who likes anything hype (he’s a massive Yeezus fan) or an Abhishek Bachchan who probably picked up him Air Jordan 5 Supreme from a reseller. And I don’t know what to make of this, but Karan Johar got his hands on a Louis Vuitton Supreme holdall. And I guess in India, it doesn’t get any worse than that. Of course, you have your rich kids who like flexing with their peers. More on that, in a bit.
Sneakers and Streetwear are proper mainstream now. Don’t you see your favourite blogger talking about how much they love sneakers and have always been a “sneaker girl” or “sneaker boy”? Exactly.
The reason I fell in love with sneakers and streetwear is because it was not mainstream. When everyone else around me was keen on being dapper in a suit, I was pairing sneakers with ripped denims and a G Shock. Because that was me. It felt real to me. It wasn’t what everyone else was wearing or talking about. But now, with all these “celebrities” appropriating it because it is “cool” it’s become a trend for the rich to indulge in.
I have shopped for streetwear and sneakers from every country imaginable, including the obvious suspects America and UK. I am a customer to countries like Germany, Poland, Russia, Italy, Sweden, Hong Kong, South Korea so on. Of course, the shipping along with duties and taxes I pay on them almost doubles the selling price. But in my endeavour to wear niche brands that no one else in India has or ever has heard of, I did not really care. I was wearing tees from brands most people knew nothing about or at best had seen in passing – The Hundreds, HUF, Obey. There is a very small niche audience that knew those brands, of course, it is only fair I mention it. But like everything that was hitherto unheard of, the audience perhaps did not understand or associate. Not until social media exploded and with it the abundance of information on what it takes to be cool.
What started out as niche, edgy and inaccessible; very quickly became mainstream. The aesthetic has been copied by almost every single brand you see around you. First ones to be thanked (not) perhaps are Zara who are quick to replicate anything that a streetwear icon like Kanye or Jerry Lorenzo is seen wearing and gets all the required attention/hype.
Every blogger now is talking about how they love sneakers and tees with joggers and hoodies. Pfffttt…
People are jumping on to the streetwear bandwagon and appropriating it more than they are watching Game Of Thrones out of F.O.M.O.!!!
I have had this same conversation with 2 friends on isolated occasions – is Streetwear going to die in the next 2 years perhaps? They both had different views. I mean, everybody wants to wear Supreme right now. They don’t know what the brand is, how inaccessible it is. Heck, they even compare it’s styles to being fresher than what a “Koovs” sells online. If the number of DM’s I get on my phone asking me where Supreme can be purchased is anything to go by, I think it is time I moved to something other than streetwear. Isn’t that how something becomes uncool? When it is accessible to a majority and more so, the ones that try to be the “cool kids”?! I obviously ignore their questions. We have google and reddit for that.
If you can’t do your research on readily available information, you don’t deserve to know.
Which brings us to right now. Kids blowing their daddy’s cash on BAPE or employed men buying their 5th pair of Jordan 1s, every one wants in on the “trend”, which is anything but. It is a good phase, it is broadening the horizon and potential of the streetwear market in India. But it is the “why” that bothers me, not the “what”. Everybody wants to flex for the gram or amongst their peers. I am part of this Whatsapp Group that discusses streetwear and sneakers, and every second twat is a teen showing off what his daddy’s money helped him buy. Talking about backdoor access to Supreme and how BAPE hoodies are something they wear every day. Like, Lol.
Now, you’ll be like “Allen stop hating on the people who are getting into the game“! And all I have to say to you is that the people getting into the game are ruining it. Much like Michael Jordan playing Baseball. Don’t spoil it for the rest. Ok maybe that analogy is bad, but nevertheless. Whenever you try to cop your favourite sneaker and they’re sold out, it turns out they were copped by individuals with the intention of reselling. It is different if you buy a pair but then decide to flip it. Not bringing in your grandma and her geriatric friends to the raffle or using bots for that matter, to buy multiple pairs just so you can sell it to people who really want it at a premium. And what’s worse? These “rich and want to be cool” people who pay reseller premiums to acquire those pairs thereby taking up resale prices through the roof.
Streetwear has always been a genre of fashion that had a niche audience, that was anti- authority and rebellious. They did not care for trends. They sought and scored rare pieces and brands that were not something everybody else would wear. Seldom would they wait for a sale to shop. But now with brands and designers appropriating streetwear’s aesthetic and feeding a “hungry to fit in“ frenzied audience that don’t mind wearing fakes in some cases, it is only a matter of time before it perhaps is disowned. People are bound to move on to the next thing once they feel the “trend” of streetwear has died.
But the ones that have embraced streetwear as an integral part of them, will continue to buy and wear these brands. That, is the audience, that are legit. Not someone buying a tee because a Bieber wore it.
Somewhat like the brand BAPE, that became so mainstream at one point it almost died. But then they managed to salvage themselves and return, much to the excitement of hyped kids who had discovered a means to stand out by fitting in.
All Tees – Supreme; CDG Box Logo, Thrasher Collab, Sade Photo
Joggers – XBYO by adidas Originals
Sneakers – adidas Ultraboost 2.0 Gold Medal and 3.0 Triple White
Glares – RayBan Wayfarers
Watch – G Shock