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3 Ways Youth Culture Drives Men’s Wear Trends

In 2003, Project launched as a global trade show with 50 brands to showcase premium and contemporary fashion. And it turns out the show’s debut aligned perfectly with the upward trajectory of men’s fashion.

“We were about to embark on [a] period when men’s fashion went from fringes of cultures into center stage,” said Brian Trunzo, WGSN senior consultant and forecaster, at Project Las Vegas Thursday.

The big shift, Trunzo explained, is that young men went from gravitating toward clothing that exemplified the “things” they liked such as skateboarding or comics, to fashion becoming the “thing” they were into.

And that trend is especially noticeable among young men today. Here, Trunzo shares three takeaways about the current men’s market and why youth will always be the strongest indicator of where fashion is headed next.

Eternal Youth

Youth culture has always driven pop culture, but Trunzo said that influence is even more prominent and obvious in 2019, thanks in part to social media, meme culture and collaborations.

And the concept of “selling out” has vanished from the youth vocabulary. Whereas fans of a streetwear brand like Supreme would have once given a luxury label like Louis Vuitton the side-eye, the collaboration between to the two mega brands will go down as one of the biggest fashion moments from the 2010s.

Instead of seeing it as selling out, Trunzo said, young consumers “see it as smart brands and retailers capitalizing on their energy.”

Fast Times

The evolution of men’s wear is seeing a quickened pace. While it may feel as though decades had passed since hipsters adopted deep V-neck tees and Kanye West and Pharrell Williams made prep school fashion cool, Trunzo pointed out that the trends popped up just three to four years ago.

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“Some of these trends feel like they hatched a million years ago,” he said. “We’ve arguably seen more innovation in the last 15 years than the previous hundred, so it’s definitely incumbent upon all of us to stay abreast of these changes.”

Designers and retailers, Trunzo added, need to become pseudo anthropologists. “Be aware of what’s happening around us and how fast trend is actually moving,” he said.


From the return of track suits, to the bold bursts of neon invigorating men’s luxury streetwear, Trunzo describes the quick bursts of nostalgic trends that hit the men’s market as “near vintage” eras.

“Nostalgia cycles are the shortening,” he said. “Near vintage is this idea of vintage not being 20-plus years, but vintage being just five to 10 years ago.”

And the early 2000s, he said, is “ripe with imagery” and directional looks that feel approachable again today, including tattoo graphics on T-shirts and embellished or moto denim.