Why New York guys are striving to look like London’s “roadmen”
By Jian DeLeon

American men are readily adopting the styles and slang of London subcultures. WGSN’s Jian DeLeon explains why.

Apr 15, 2016
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As the lines between street fashion and high fashion continue to blur, one of the more interesting things we’re seeing is London rise up as one of the key cultural hubs for menswear at all levels. Buzzy brands like “Palace” have achieved a great degree of success stateside, and Stone Island, an Italian outerwear label with a strong association to London’s “casual” football culture, has actively made strides to boost its presence in America. Meanwhile, catwalk sensations like J.W. Anderson and Craig Green have captured the hearts, minds, and wallets of discerning American men’s fashion consumers—with a growing stateside shelf space to show for it.

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LFW Craig Green AW16 catwalk show

The London “roadman” is akin to a New York City insider—and it’s a term that stems from London’s affinity for “roads,” that outnumber its proper “streets.” It comes with it a certain look often attributed to celebrity influencers like Skepta, who’ve gone onto influence other popular acts in America like Drake and Travis Scott.

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Grime star/performer Skepta

Given the high engagement level these names have with their fanbase, it’s one way the look has proliferated into American street culture. The look often includes Stone Island outerwear, a curved-brim baseball cap (with a logo, natch), rare running trainers, and plenty of sporty staples, like track pants or jackets.

Think of it as a rough-around-the-edges answer to the oft-derided “athleisure” trend. The last thing any man in this look would do is yoga—let alone set foot in a gym. It’s a sportwear-inspired aesthetic that speaks to an alternative lifestyle, instead of an active one. With it, certain London vernacular and slang has found its way into the American youth consciousness, partly because of the rise of online style tribes, and partly because social media has made it easier than ever to proliferate in-jokes and slang. Don’t be surprised to hear more Americans address friends as “mates,” or complimenting someone’s “proper” look. Of course, there are plenty of other, more vulgar terms that have found their way across the pond.

‘All of this is to say that the takeaway is London’s growing soft power in men’s fashion. People used to look to New York City for its grittiness and abrasive urban attitude, but perhaps in a cleaner, smoothed-out city with increasingly exorbitant rents, there’s a waning influence.’

As plenty of its prominent creatives and striving artists are heading to places like Los Angeles and abroad, perhaps that’s why its new generation of rebellious style icons are looking for inspiration elsewhere. You can find out more about this emerging menswear trend here.

LIKE THIS? Follow Jian on Twitter. Subscribers can check out the eight-page report on The London Look In NYC here. For menswear retail analysis, join WGSN.


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