The rise of streetwear


A model poses with Nairobi Apparel District streetwear. PHOTO | POOL

Baggy pants, crop tops, big shirts, puffer jackets, sneakers, leggings, and a hoodie: these were fashionable in the 80s, but now they are best-sellers in Nairobi fashion shops. Mom and dad jeans that were recently unfashionable are also making a comeback, even among young Kenyans.

Known as streetwear, the appeal is that the clothes are “too comfortable to wear, laid-back or the classic and worn with no effort.”The best-sellers currently are streetwear that is artsy; fashion items are classified as cutting-edge and have an association with hip-hop music and skateboarding.

Diallo Gatabaki, a manager at Shop Zetu, an online fashion retailer, says the fact that streetwear is constantly reinventing itself, and allows people from all walks of life to express themselves through dressing, appeals to many.

“It [streetwear] refuses to play by the rules, and by drawing its inspiration from the zaniest of places, it avoids your basic cookie-cutter outfits,” he says

Effortless look

He adds that hoodies, sweat pants, and oversize T-shirts are some of the trends that he wishes to be adopted widely in the future.

“Oversize T-shirts, hoodies, sweatpants, and all of that. I just love that effortless look. I was also born in the mid 80’s so the new trend that is, how do I call it, retro-modern, but anything 90’s themed is killing it right now,” he says.

“Streetwear is all about pushing boundaries, and with an increasingly environmentally-conscious marketplace, many streetwear brands are already shifting their creative styles and fresh takes on streetwear to represent this ideology,” he adds.

Today, streetwear has also merged modern trends but still kept aspects of the 80s’ originality. The beauty of street fashion is that it can be daring, and yet casual and accessible to the everyday person. “ I find that to predict what’s going to be in vogue in future, you might have to look back,” Mr Gatabaki says.

What has influenced Shop Zetu brands perspective on fashion?

“What I love about Shop Zetu is that we are a fashion marketplace. And what I love even more is that majority of our brands are Kenyan. There is a vast selection of styles that continues to grow every day as we broaden our offering, and want every Kenyan to discover their style,” he says.

Some of the designers stitching a sense of Kenyan culture on modern pieces of clothing is Junior Orina of the Nairobi Apparel District. He says streetwear has been readily embraced not only for its accessibility but also for the freedom it offers when mixing colours reminiscent of the cool and chic 80s era.

He has been in business for almost seven years and says their brand has been growing. “More Kenyans are now wearing streetwear. We even sell outside the country,” Mr Orina notes.

Invest in sneakers: Sneakers are often the most important (and most expensive) part of an original look. If you want to make a big style impact with just one clothing item, sneakers are the trick.

Stick to a single logo: Brand loyalty is an important part of streetwear culture, so it’s rare to see a true fan layering different streetwear brands in a single look. If you have a limited number of items from different streetwear labels, try showing off one logo at a time, and supplement the rest of your look with workwear and athletic clothing.

Play with proportions: One of the streetwear’s biggest fashion wins was bringing sweatshirts into the realm of high fashion. Streetwear aficionados often wear baggy denim, oversize sweatshirts, and other loose-fitting garments, breaking the rules of proportion to fashionable effect.

Baggy pants: Baggy jeans are versatile. For an office-ready outfit, wear them with a neutral blazer, leather loafers, and mixed metallic accessories. Dare we suggest a denim jacket for a bold denim-on-denim look? Baggy jeans are ideal for wearing on repeat, offering endless styling options for all occasions.

[email protected]