High fashion: Can cannabis culture ever be luxe?
By Jian DeLeon

With legalisation of the drug growing, especially in the United States, can cannabis culture ever be fashionable in the luxury sphere?

Apr 20, 2016
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Sorry, DHL t-shirt, there’s a new exorbitantly-priced Vetements tee making waves. The shirt in question features the rapper Snoop Dogg, and retails for $924 at SVMoscow. Eagle-eyed fans of obscure rap ephemera recognise the image as originally appearing on promotional merchandise for the artist in 1993. In addition to a long string of hits and ushering in the G-funk era of hip-hop music, Snoop Dogg is probably known for another thing: his career-long association with marijuana.

In the United States, recreational use of cannabis has been legalised in Oregon, Colorado, Washington state, Alaska, and Washington D.C. Some 20 more states have legalised the use of medical marijuana. In states like Colorado, some dispensaries are attempting to give cannabis culture a facelift.

Stereotypically associated with burnouts, hippies, and smoke-filled hip-hop music videos, self-styled apothecaries like Aspen, Colorado’s Silverpeak aim to give the green stuff a white-glove look and feel. Silverpeak approaches cannabis from a connoisseur’s perspective, likening it to wine. “Move over Merlot. Cannabis has arrived!” exclaims the shop’s website.

The interior is full of wood-panelled shelving, cannabis-infused edibles and strains displayed in glass cases, and knowledgeable associates ready to espouse the finer points of consumption.

Yes, it does smell like cannabis, but in a very tasteful, non-invasive way. Less college dorm room with a Bob Marley poster, and perhaps more like the office of a tenured professor who’s a closet Grateful Dead fan.

Last year, we published a report about the aptly-named “Green Rush,” but the question remains: Can cannabis ever overcome its lowbrow connotations and be taken seriously in the luxury realm?

Companies like Marley Natural (run by the family of Bob Marley, of course) are also attempting to reconcile marijuana’s past with its growth potential in the future. In addition to minimal, dark wood-detailed accessories like holders, trays, and pipes, it also makes a series of hemp-infused grooming products and publishes a lifestyle magazine that looks like the furthest thing from High Times, and more like an issue of Kinfolk.

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Of course, cannabis has a long association with the alt-lifestyles associated with streetwear culture. HUF’s “Plantlife” socks have become something of a West Coast staple, and offer a variety of colors and washes on all-over weed leaf printed socks. When Stüssy first started, founder Shawn Stüssy drew from the well of Rastafarian imagery and reggae music as much as he did New Wave and punk. It’s safe to say there’s a likely chance he also partakes in a little bit of kind bud every now and then.

In the fashion world, designers like Lucien Pellat-Finet have readily used the weed leaf motif, like on this $495 long sleeve t-shirt. Jeremy Scott included a weed leaf print in one of his collaborative collections with Adidas. San Francisco-based company Pax, known for its minimal vaporizers, made an active push to have more of a presence in the fashion industry last year, collaborating with storied NYC menswear retailer Odin during fashion week on an exclusive product, while finding its way into stores like Opening Ceremony and American Rag. Pax also collaborated with The Weeknd on a custom vaporiser tied to his The Madness tour. It retails for $279.

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It’s no secret that several prominent celebrities also enjoy indulging. Certainly, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Kanye West, and A$AP Rocky often talk openly about smoking marijuana, if not outright doing it in public or on the stage. As cannabis culture becomes more mainstream, it’s only natural for some of its participants to want to elevate it to a—ahem—higher level.

Thoughtfully designed devices along with educating a growing consumer base about cannabis consumption is just the first step. Hemp-infused products, big ticket fashion items that pay homage to the culture, and celebrity co-signs may help ameliorate the long-standing stigma of reefer madness. But so far, the idea of cannabis as an aspirational product and lifestyle still remains a pipe dream.

LIKE THIS? Follow Jian on Twitter. Subscribers can view the five-page report on cannabis culture here. For more in-depth analysis, join WGSN.

 


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