The Edit

The Lowdown On Streetwear For Grown-Ups

Fear of God, Stüssy and Pop Trading Company – seven streetwise brands to sample

You can trace the origin of the streetwear trend back to the hip-hop scenes that bubbled up on the east and west coasts of the US in the 1980s. Items such as tracksuits, zip-up hoodies and graphic T-shirts were being worn by Run-D.M.C. on the streets of Queens and by N.W.A in Compton before they were co-opted by the skaters, drifters, grunge and metal bands of the 1990s.

Today, you couldn’t single out one particular tribe or subculture simply by its street style. The middle classes are falling over themselves to snap up items from Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with Supreme, fashion kids are saving up for Vetements’ Mitteleuropean-inspired, avant-garde streetwear, and who isn’t coveting a new hoodie right now? Designers are drawing on street culture at its multifarious best, and the lines between luxury mainstream fashion and streetwear have blurred beyond recognition. 

Which is why we at MR PORTER thought it high time we issued some guidance on how to incorporate streetwear into your wardrobe. It can be a tad intimidating if you’ve been surviving on a steady diet of tailoring for the past decade. Here are seven streetwear brands we’re road-testing this season, and some tips on how to wear them.

WACKO MARIA

You get the feeling that the designers at Japanese brand Wacko Maria, ex J-League football players Messrs Keiji Ishizuka and Atsuhiko Mori, have a wry smile on their faces. The brand, established in 2005, is best described as a rockabilly take on streetwear, and it stands out for its mixture of stylish, minimal cuts, bold graphics and controversial slogans. An example of the brand’s wit is its appropriation of the varsity jacket. In lieu of a sports-team crest or emblem, you’ll find “The Guilty Parties” or “Tengoku”, the Japanese word for “heaven”. Its boxy shape hides a multitude of sins (all those ribs and margaritas). Wear it with a white tee and black jeans for a strong, monochromatic off-duty look.

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BALENCIAGA

Balenciaga’s artistic director Mr Demna Gvasalia looks to the streets, at what people his age (and younger) are wearing, and exaggerates the proportions in a nod to the 1980s. His latest collection mixes corporate tailoring with streetwear staples, and is aimed at “the sort of guy who goes into the office on weekends”. Expect sharp business suits flecked with red power pinstripes, or tramline-straight coats layered over voluminous hoodies and boxy, cropped tops. The quilted plaid shirt above is trans-seasonal and, worn with tailored trousers and chunky shoes, is work-appropriate (unless you’re in finance or law). For a weekend look, pair it with selvedge jeans and sneakers.

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STÜSSY

Back in 1980, California-born Mr Shawn Stüssy was making waves on the surf scene with the short surfboards he designed from his home in Laguna Beach. Then, when he transferred his iconic graffiti logo and graphic reggae prints onto surf apparel, his eponymous brand transcended its Orange County roots to become one of the most recognisable streetwear brands in the world, and was picked up by DJs, club kids, skaters and creatives, including Messrs Hiroshi Fujiwara, Michael Kopelman and Luca Benini. The new collection features these camo-print seersucker shorts, which should be worn with something sober, such as a white tee by Public School.

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POP TRADING COMPANY

Having acted as consultants and distributors for skate super-brands Palace and Magenta Skateboards, Messrs Peter Kolks and Ric van Rest knew they could bring something different to the scene with their label Pop Trading Company – namely, stripped-back streetwear with modern graphics and a cool, urban aesthetic. Founded in Amsterdam in 2013, the brand draws inspiration from Benelux skate culture, which is evident in the functionality of its designs. The AMS jacket, for example, has been cut from tightly woven cotton that is durable, breathable and lightweight. It’s a dependable choice for changeable weather. Wear yours unzipped over a striped tee as summer draws to a close.

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JUNYA WATANABE

Mr Junya Watanabe is so fluent in the language of streetwear, he practically wrote the dictionary. His chopped-up-and-redone jeans, patchwork shorts, biker jackets and army surplus are amassed like trophies for his celebrity fans, who include Mr Pharrell Williams and Tinie Tempah. The Japanese designer has a knack for remastering and repurposing clothing, and his latest collection is a collage of collaborations and cut-up creations, which features Levi’s jeans finished with animal-print pockets and a Barbour jacket with leather motorcycle patches. But The North Face collaboration bomber jacket, made from a dismantled duffel bag, tops them all. Its handles, placed on the inside-back, have been repurposed as straps, so the coat can be slung over your shoulder when you’re not wearing it, and its zip pockets are big enough to carry a tablet. Streetwear hasn’t been this practical since the baggy cargo pant.

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CAV EMPT

Launched in 2011, Cav Empt is the brainchild of enigmatic graphic designer Sk8thing, a man shrouded in Banksy-like mystery, and Mr Toby Feltwell, the former music mogul who discovered grime artist Dizzee Rascal. Since launching, the brand has built a sizeable cult following for its razor-sharp streetwear, which typically comes printed with surreal and often controversial prints and floating slogans. Fix up and look sharp (sorry) in this printed shell jacket, which is emblazoned with “Silly fancy goods designed to create the illusion of a full life”, an excerpt from the German anti-capitalist Krisis Group’s Manifesto Against Labour. How about that for a bold statement?

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FEAR OF GOD

Fear of God is a thought-provoking Los Angeles-based clothing line created to pay tribute to founder Mr Jerry Lorenzo’s spirituality. Since launching, the label has established a trademark aesthetic with an emphasis on layering and reworked proportions that has attracted A-list devotees such as Messrs Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and Zayn Malik. For his most recent collection, Mr Lorenzo looked to 1990s grunge and hip-hop for inspiration, as evidenced in the light wash and boxy cut of this denim jacket. Balance the proportions with skinny-fit trousers or one of the brand’s signature mesh jerseys and a pair of sweats.

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