Search “Supreme haul” on Youtube you’ll net about 282,000 results. That means hundreds of thousands of people are setting up cameras to record their elation as they reveal the famed skate company’s pricey, exclusive tee-shirts and branded streetwear. This fanatical devotion can border on cult-like obsession. One of the more popular videos includes a caution to the viewers, who the YouTuber calls “‘Preme Gods” while flexing his index fingers in air quotes. The young man, still in braces, premtively takes at shot at anyone about to ride him for ruining the Supreme community or the Supreme culture.
“Shut up, man,” he says. “This is a damn haul video. This is for entertainment.”
This small documented moment of a dude hypebeasting alone in his bedroom reveals the passion with which people across the globe both purchase streetwear and defend the boundaries of their beloved subculture.
Whether or not streetwear should be defined as a subculture of its own or a key piece of other subcultures remains up for debate. There isn’t a single definition for the fashion genre that’s agreed upon by all of the luminaries in the market. For some, streetwear is the product of life on the street, a representation of a specific, independent culture. For others, it’s just another form of consumption, devoid of the philosophical contradiction to mainstream society a true subculture ought to have. The lack of consensus in no way, however, impedes nations around the globe from developing their own streetwear brands or their stylish citizenry from haunting online retailers and waiting hours in line for the freshest gear to drop.
The staples — track suits, ball caps, hoodies, sneakers, and tees — remain consistent across streetwear, but countries manifest their own riffs on the classics. In some instances, they bite the look of a foreign subculture, costuming themselves in gear that would carry a definite ideology in other regions. This approach (which some might call appropriation and others cultural imperialism) supports the notion of streetwear as sheer capitalism. This modus operandi isn’t exclusive to international exchange, either; just look at the adoption of heavy metal iconography by hip-hop over the past year. Other countries are able to keep streetwear soulful by mixing existing elements from hip-hop or skating with those that reflect a national identity, like traditional iconography or patterns.
The following list explores streetwear trends in seven countries with unique expressions of what’s fly. Just don’t expect to see the fashion capitals, like the US, France, and Japan on this compilation. Instead, it’s time you get in touch with some lesser represented steez.
It is impossible to avoid mentions of K-pop, Korean dramas, Korean technology, and Korean beauty routines on social media right now. The profound influence of the country on global youth culture is undeniable. But, influence also travels the other direction. With traditional systemic cultural barriers diminishing over the last few decades, Korean young people are using their apparel choices as a demonstration of new found freedom, and they are drawing influence from the West.
Right now, Korean street style pulls heavily from both punk and hip-hop culture, even combining elements of the pair when constructing outfits. However, whereas a pair of combat boots, a bondage collar, piercings, safety pins, and a leather jacket are markers of not only an aesthetic, but also a mindset in the United States, the elements are being used purely for their visual appeal in Korea.
This is all about the sartorial statement, rather than a sign of rebellion. Point being: Often, the wearers don’t know a single thing about the bands on their patches.
Korea has had a thriving counterfeit fashion trade in place for decades. Even the increasing global influence of their own budding fashion industry has failed to stall the huge fakes market. Right before Seoul Fashion Week began in 2016, Ventments released an exclusive “Official Fake” collection in recognition of the strong knockoff game. Now, these customized, DIY fakes have migrated northwest to fellow Asian country Kazakhstan.
Despite being the globe’s largest landlocked country, Kazakhstan remains connected to worldwide style trends and has a vibrant streetwear community. Currently, street style looks are featuring a lot of do-it-yourself label making. Why wear plain skate shoes when you can ink Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette on the shell toes of some Adidas? It’s a sly ironic nod to fashion’s role in youth culture and a damn good opportunity to get creative.
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Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Almaty @mbfwalmaty fall/winter 17-18 sneakers @natskeeper @yung.tale @le21eme @yan_ray @_a_s_a_n_ @e.univers 📸@romeindaworld for @wassupmag ➡️ link in bio #WassUpMag #Almaty #Kazakhstan #StreetCulture #YouthCulture #StreetFashion #FashionWeek #fw17 #mbfw #mbfwalmaty #mbfwa2017 #mbfwa
Streetwear has gone fully global, with most countries having an active scene in place. Mexico is certainly among them. However, unlike trendsetters in more economically advantaged nations, style-focused Mexican youth living in rural areas often lack the budget needed to chase down limited-edition sneaks and tees. The result? The majority of the street style in Mexico is concentrated in Mexico City and anyone wanting to cop brands has to hit the big city to access retailers. However, growth is underway in other areas of the country.
Among the many style influencers shaping streetwear, music remains powerful. Rock n’ Roll was one of the first musical styles imported from across the border and its appeal endures in Mexico. Specifically, punk, goth, and metal are impacting the steez of stylish Mexicans. Ricardo Campa, of the popular Mexico City multi-brand retailer Headquarter, hypothesizes the strong connection Mexican people maintain with death and the afterlife may also contribute to the appeal of aesthetics that use skulls, angels, and devils. And where better than to snap up gear than “El Chopo,” the legendary subculture flea market in Mexico City?
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🎸'El Chopo' Market🎸 Have you ever been judged by the way you look? I'm sure that many of the people on this album have been. Me and my friend Pau talked to this couple who came from San Diego for the second time to Mexico City and El Chopo. We could feel in their voice how good people they are. Unfortunately, most people would be scared even to get close to them. Just be who you are, express yourself and dress the way you like ❤️ ………………………………………… 🎸Tianguis El Chopo🎸 Alguna vez te has sentido juzgado por las pintas que llevas o cómo te vistes? Estoy seguro que esta pareja y otra gente del álbum se han sentido así. Mi amiga Pau y yo conocimos a esta pareja que venía de San Diego por segunda vez a El Chopo y Ciudad de México. Simplemente hablando unos minutos podíamos sentir lo buena gente que eran. Desafortunadamente, la muchísima gente cambiaría de acera al verles llegar. Da igual lo que la gente piense, sé tú mismo y vístete como quieras ❤️ 📷Cover pic by @pompettina
Despite being a large country experiencing swift growth, Brazil’s footwear scene took time to develop. Now, there is a rich culture for sneakerheads, and it has shifted from the trends that were in place as recently as a few years ago. At that time, the Brazilian footwear milieu was hobbled by a lack of choice, as high import duties and a generally protectionist bent made bringing outside brands into the country difficult. Further, young Brazilians were having a hard time finding Portuguese web sites that could educate them and pull them into the community.
Because of limited access and a lack of educational resources, the trend was conspicuous consumption, with buyers on the mainstream market paying big bucks for sneaks with “vis-tech” (visible, mechanical technology). Adidas Springblades and Nike Shoxs were huge. Now, hypebeasts are more concerned with the style of their kicks than the price tag. Converse, especially the classic Chuck Taylors, and Vans are popular. But, more prestigious brands like NikeLab, Adidas Originals, PUMA Select, and ASICS Tiger are also hot.
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Despite the global nature of contemporary streetwear, Iceland was continually finding itself lagging behind style in other countries. The small population of the country (there are only 300,000 residents) meant it wasn’t a priority market for eminent streetwear labels. Iceland’s location in the North Atlantic also meant that homegrown labels couldn’t reach the world stage and grow. However, in the last couple years, social media and the popularity of the country with tourists have contributed to a streetwear boom. The small market does mean that there are gaps in what can be sourced via local retail, but ecommerce is thriving.
Although there is a growing interest in brands, Icelanders still blend a lot of vintage items into their looks. This means incorporating classic knitwear with skate lines like Thrasher and Stüssy. The diversity is a marker of contemporary style in the country. Famous Reykjavik store Spúútnik is the oldest in the country, and the owners spend a large amount of their time traveling through Europe and America gathering the best vintage for their customers. When it comes to new stuff, brands that get global hype are sure to be coveted in Iceland.
Where you find skateboarders, you find streetwear. Though the skateboarding subculture has long been present throughout Africa, more established elements of the lifestyle have arrived relatively recently. Ethiopia only built its first skate park last year, and Nigeria’s first skate crew was founded seven years ago, though the country still lacks a skate park. Right now, skateboarding in Africa is a lot like skateboarding in the US in the 1970s. It isn’t consistently well understood by the masses, but it is a thriving youth culture. Streetwear brands are another way that the skating community is being pulled to the forefront of fashion.
The classics play big in Nigeria; expect lots of old skool Vans, jeans, and logo t-shirts. But, Nigerian steez also draws from native culture; it isn’t just about Western streetwear. Brightly patterned, cotton items that show a pride in the textile traditions of the nation are popping. Loose fit pants and shorts with elastic waists and short-sleeved, button-down shirts are everywhere.
United Arab Emirates
After Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates has the largest economy in the Arab world. Tourism is a big part of that economy, and visitors can enjoy some of the finest hotels in the world, as well as world class shopping. It’s no surprise that Dubai is frequently listed among the top five shopping destinations in the world. The emphasis on unrestricted opulence contributes to a streetwear scene that is evolving via retail. Trends are trickling down from high end brands and the lines of major designers. That means people will be sporting side-bags (the name being used to re-brand the fanny pack or bum bag as cool) from the Louis Vuitton collaboration with Supreme.
Modern streetwear draws inspiration from a number of communities, and trendsetters look for brands that lean more heavily on the culture they revere. It’s not uncommon to be turned off by a brand that is too graffiti oriented or too surf style. In the UAE, reverence is for the luxe hip-hop life. Even the leading skate store in Dubai is pushing snapbacks with Tupac and Biggie.