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Streetwear Consumers are Unmoved by Social Media Influencers

The major players in the streetwear category may have evolved to include sport and luxury labels, but its biggest influences remain unchanged, according to a new report from Hypebeast.

The “Streetwear Impact Report” released last week reveals how music, art and sport—areas that helped spurred the development of streetwear in the ’80s—continue to be key drivers in the youth-oriented category.

The report, made in partnership with Strategy&, is based on a survey of more than 40,000 consumers across the globe (80 percent being male), while the industry portion of the report surveyed 763 respondents from a range of companies, including high street, luxury and resale sites.

Eighty-percent of consumer respondents indicated that hip-hop/rap music was a major influence on streetwear, while 42 percent named contemporary art and 40 percent pointed to sports as influences.

And musicians—not social media influencers—are the main muse. The report found that 80 percent of consumers “regard musicians as the most credible figures in streetwear,” followed by “elected industry insiders” with 52 percent, indicating that consumers’ thirst for authenticity in this category has not waned.

“Human interaction and influence are of more value—provided the person giving the information has a clear cultural authority—than a nameless digital source. Though consumers value a product’s quality and design, they crave interactions with brands, friends, influencers and creative directors who have deep roots and knowledge in the community,” the report noted.

While social media influencers are proving to be less influential in the streetwear category, the report says streetwear is built for social media in a way that “mainstream fashion” is not. Social media amplifies streetwear culture’s sense of community, providing a place for consumers to buy and sell product, discover upcoming drops and collaborations and to simply talk shop.

Instagram is the overwhelming favorite social platform among streetwear fanatics, with 96 percent of consumer respondents reporting that they use it to gather information. YouTube came in second with 42 percent, followed by old-school streetwear forums with just 16 percent.

“Consumers aren’t responding to figures who have made their name purely from Instagram followers or likes; instead they respond to people who have a demonstrated cultural influence outside of social media, for example artists and musicians,” the report noted.