Streetwear has always been considered something of a renegade movement, brands like Stussy and Supreme among the first to fuse their love of skateboarding and music into cult collections of Tshirts and beanies that remained resolutely lo-fi.
So far, so familiar. But a select few brands are rising to the top of the fashion pile for the luxurious spin they give to street style. Constructing loose silhouettes from premium leathers and cottons, the stock-in-trade of these new labels is an upmarket but achingly cool reinterpretation of street staples.
Hood by Air, the Brooklyn-based label of designer Shayne Oliver, took to the catwalks of February’s New York Fashion week to international acclaim – and a closing swagger by rap star A$AP Rocky. Other fans include Kanye West, Rihanna and Ciara, who pay up to five figures for Oliver’s exclusive pieces. His more accessible T-shirts are stocked at Selfridges.
Rav Matharu of Clothsurgeon originally earned plaudits for a technique of cutting fabrics with an actual scalpel. Today, he may have taken up scissors instead, but he’s slicing out a new direction for street wear. “I’m obsessed with vintage Americana sportswear,” says the London designer. “But I’m a fan of Raf Simons and Yohji Yamamoto and I’m also into British tailoring and its heritage – mainly Gieves & Hawkes.” In less than a year, Matharu has become a go-to for the music scene – one familiar fan is A$AP Rocky.
With biker jackets and jumpers made from lambskin and nappa leathers, Matharu’s bespoke line is the crux of his business, but he offers seasonal collections too.
Following suit is En Noir, where California-born creative director Rob Garcia fuses the street with craftsmanship found in Parisian ateliers. “I pride myself on making a well-executed, honest product,” explains Garcia, whose leather jogging trousers and deconstructed tanks have been worn by Kanye West. “It comes from an authentic representation: street-fashion and high-fashion worlds colliding.”
Shayne Oliver concurs: “I want people to have new standards of what is classic and what is formal. If they don’t get it at first, I’m okay with it.”