Streetwear’s story played out in homes instead of its namesake, the streets, in 2020. Nonetheless, the category continues to resonate with consumers, not to mention conglomerates such as VF Corp., which plunked down $2.1 billion to add streetwear superstar Supreme to its roster of Gen Z-oriented brands.
But the trends that worked in 2020 do not have an automatic in for 2021. In a report, retail market intelligence platform Edited outlined how streetwear may evolve in the new year.
As an eternally youthful category that evolves with the tastes and interests of each budding generation, streetwear is ripe for a sustainable makeover that reflects the conscious consumption habits and values that Gen Z and younger cohorts espouse.
And with sustainability being one of the industry’s biggest buzzwords, Edited said it can no longer be overlooked by the streetwear segment. The streetwear twist, however, is that efforts may center around “intersectional environmentalism” or as Edited describes, “an inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet.”
In particular, this form of environmentalism shines a spotlight on how people of color are exposed to the harmful effects of irresponsible clothing production.
But just as fast fashion has induced the desire to buy more and buy often, Edited pointed out that streetwear is guilty of building up rabid demand for short-lived trends, collaborations and drops. Along with introducing more sustainable materials to their collections, the next year may see more brands rethinking their weekly drop cycles in order to encourage less consumption and avoid overproduction.
This approach, Edited noted, is a way for brands to leverage their influence over younger generations as a call to action.
At its core streetwear is a genre of fashion for people who move against the grain, but it is still susceptible to overarching themes in fashion.
The 2020 craze for comfortable at-home leisurewear is a natural for streetwear, which has a foundation in hoodies, tees and loose silhouettes. Tactile fabrics like Sherpa, corduroy, fleece and shearling are among the ways streetwear will get a cozy update for 2021, Edited reported. Look for elements of denim and nylon to break up the garments for mass appeal.
Sports that skew toward preppy styling have a place in streetwear as well. “Influences of rugby, soccer and baseball run rampant throughout streetwear collections and Instagram posts,” Edited stated. Retailers can enhance their merchandising stories by opting for garments with “sporty notes” like a striped rugby shirt instead of a basic polo.
While some fashion forecasts have alluded to apocalyptic trends for 2021, given the chaos 2020 wielded on the world, Edited expects to see streetwear apply functional details to garments in a manner that speaks to adventure.
“Utility vibes are at the heart of this trend primarily due to their functional nature,” Edited stated, noting that cargo trousers, printed short-sleeve shirts and bucket hats are key items to watch. Expect to see these styles carry into summer in more loose and lightweight fabrics.
Along with being loyal to labels, streetwear consumers have pledged their allegiance to a crop of garments that make up the essential streetwear wardrobe. Many items, Edited noted, stand for an update in 2021 that reflects the growing demand for neutral colorways and long-lasting fashion.
Keying into the utility theme, streetwear’s go-to layering piece—the shacket—will be updated in neutral tones of khaki and olive. “Comfort should be front and center when designing updates and the addition of buckles, chest pockets and straps check both function and fashion boxes,” Edited stated.
Though logo mania has waned, there’s still interest in printed loungewear, especially among new silhouettes. Pointing to the success of Fear of God’s turtleneck sweatshirt, Edited urged retailers to refresh their standard crewneck or hoodie offerings with turtlenecks and joggers with matching printed motifs and graphics.
Varsity jackets continue to be a streetwear must-have, but Edited said retailers should rally behind the jacket’s genderless allure by stocking neutral colorways of the collegiate staple. Premium details like leather trim lead the jackets more commercial appeal.
The current trend for busy knitwear is evolving into a staid look for 2021 as well. Cardigans, Edited noted, are an “ideal loungewear alternative” and offer the versatility consumers are searching for as they transition from home life back into society—hopefully. “Buy into neutral or pastel palettes for a springtime twist,” Edited stated.