The individuals behind brands such as Hood By Air, Nasir Mazhar and Cottweiler are at the frontier of a new fashion format. They each share the artistic inclination to explore deeper facets of our humanity through their work, revealing something subversive about our species. The way they present their collections is also fitting of this new formation. You can find their clothing seeking refuge from the commotion of commerce in sparse exhibition spaces, moving away from the segue of the runway, indicating the need for a change in the way fashion is communicated.
These brands also have a closely connected peer group both online and IRL, which has been described by some fashion critics as “cult” and “tribal”. This description seems banal for an industry which is supposed to encourage collective forms of creativity within communities. The clothing that these brands produce is also more ambiguous and casually constructed than has previously been the norm in traditional fashion circles, leading to their collections being generalised as “streetwear”. This is a term that some designers strongly disagree with. Nasir Mazhar has spoken out about this on numerous occasions and doesn’t understand why critics “can’t just call it fashion?”. When mentioned in an interview with Cottweiler, they were also quick to gloss over the term, and re-frame it as “High-end” or “Luxury”. Although the stereotype of streetwear still carries some stigma, these brands have helped to move it into the mainstream; making it one of the most successful styles of our generation.
Streetwear has gained the luxury status it needs, to show that being casual can also be cool. Shayne Oliver of Hood By Air says, that this new kind of luxury gives “the feel of being rich while looking active”; further highlighting the compelling paradox of this new fashion culture. Part of the reason for the convergence of these styles is that brands are actively taking advantage of the demographic-defying possibilities of our times, and are purposefully cross-correlating “two aesthetically different but emotionally similar categories of lifestyle”. While these brands propel their ideas out into the world, they are also helping to evolve concepts such as “streetwear” and “Luxury” beyond the parameters set by the previous generation, which is a huge triumph.
As a result, these fashion brands and their concepts are appreciating in wealth and value while remaining static; they are active without breaking a sweat, like moving stills in a gallery and users as they move around the internet. Their approach to fashion places more importance on the symbiotic appropriation of “Luxury” and “streetwear”, and by combining these concepts, they have been able to break through multiple social strata at once, while operating from a place of authenticity. In this way, they continue to directly confront the dynamic creativity most visibly found in our culture, on the street. Although this new formation in fashion requires that we dig a little deeper to understand the symbolism behind the clothing, it makes sense that we make this effort to see these brands and their creations as part of a larger concept or continuum; as a feeling which far surpasses any singular fashion cycle.
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Written by Emily Stoker,
featured image is by Studio Boum, of model Leo Topalov in Cottweiler‘s AW15 presentation.