May 04, 2017 | By Nivindya Sharma
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When it came time for Nike’s SB skatewear division to collaborate with Silas Adler’s brand Soulland (in conjunction with pro-skater Eric Koston) the capsule range that emerged was an amalgamation of SB’s in-built performance-inspired detail, designed for skateboarding, along with Adler’s clean and graphic style.
This marriage of subtle formal nuance and urban sensibility is typical of a style movement that feels like it’s about to dominate the menswear scene.
Silas says: “We wanted to go in two directions with the collection, with half being experiential and style driven, I guess you can say for a fashion kid or sneaker head. The other half is practical and functional with close attention to detail”.
Soulland’s FRI.day project nails the look; a seven-piece collection offering a two-piece virgin wool suit with printed and patched detail and an Oxford shirt, which are casually offset by a 100% waterproof coach jacket and two special-edition versions of the Zoom Eric Koston QS and Hyperfeel Koston 3. Classic tailoring cues alongside Nike’s market-leading tech advances in one neat package.
The power of Supreme and Stussy, among others, indicates the thirst for established brands with a track record of authentic skate history, who mean as much to Millenials as they did to Gen X. Part of Supreme’s brand ethos is to impart knowledge of the bands, films, art and culture that have shaped its aesthetic since its inception. Akin to a rite of passage, this is about handing down those references, icons and implicit meaning that are part of the DNA of skate as a movement, a culture and a way of life. As Adler put it, “When asked by Eric and Nike SB if we wanted to work on a project it was a no brainer. Eric has been one of my childhood heroes growing up from the skateboard community”.
This meeting of generations has created a buzz in menswear. For those Gen X-ers who are still into the skate aesthetic, what to wear when ripped, butt-sagging jeans are not appropriate is a moot point, while for the Millenials who want change their profile pic as often as their look, an appetite for smarter outfits with a definite skate feel is pertinent.
Meanwhile, menswear continues to upscale wardrobe staples, so it’s currently not uncommon to find coach jackets in sartorial wool blends; plaid shirts in high yarn count cottons; or simple Dickies-style work pants in polished, fine twills. This upgrading of essentially skate-wear items (which are themselves predominantly born of humble workwear staples) is something that certain brands have really latched onto and their influence is set to be felt in a more mainstream context.
The key brands who excel at striking the right note with this smart skate aesthetic are: Clothsurgeon, Second Layer, Noah, and Japanese brand Phingerin. High street brands such as Topman already seem to be assimilating the look into their Street Tailor range, which features a wide leg, cropped trouser style.
As trends go, it makes more sense than some and certainly feels as though this has more potential reach for commercial brands than, say, the whole genderless conversation (which the high-street has struggled to deliver with any real authenticity).
Bringing the skate aesthetic to a wider audience by subverting the original silhouette of baggy tee shirt and anti-fit pants to a totally different setting, lending it a new, smarter context (in luxe fabrics and with sexed-up trims) and handily giving men’s smart looks a shake-up; this is a trend to watch.
For subscribers, WGSN’s S/S ’18 Forecast sheds more light on the trend.
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