Streetwear is becoming the boutique fitness of fashion—down to its billion-dollar valuations


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Photo: Getty Images/Pan Xunbin

Athleisure might have started out as a trend, but it’s now the fastest-growing category in fashion. And its staying power is trickling down to another style of casual dressing: streetwear.

At this point, the two words are basically synonyms to most people, because we use them interchangeably to describe a more everyday form of fashion than what you’d find on the runways. One that’s tinged with athletic undertones or overtones, if you will.

Streetwear is as much a community, however, as it is a style category. In a lot of ways, it feels like the boutique fitness of fashion. Not only have brands such as Supreme, Kith, and Off-White amassed cult followings and gained reputations for successfully disrupting the traditional fashion model. They’ve also attracted the attention of major investors.

Supreme received a $1 billion valuation last fall, making it the Peloton of streetwear startups. The estimate seems to answer the question: Are streetwear brands worth it? In a word: yes. In fact, investors have seeded about $180 million to streetwear startups in the last few years, according to Fashionista. And just like the boutique fitness industry, which expanded at an exponential rate, this influx of interest and capital has some already wondering if it’s creating a bubble around streetwear brands. And if so, will it burst?

At the moment, all we can do is speculate about streetwear’s future. But it is possible to see what this could mean from a consumer’s POV pretty well. For starters, a more streamlined secondhand market. Read: an eBay for hypebaes. The resale market for coveted items like Off-White sneakers can see them going for double (often more) of the suggested market value at online consignment. Fashionista notes that sites focused on women’s resale, The RealReal and Poshmark, have raised a combined $448 million already. Their menswear counterparts have collected about $74 million. Everyone seems to be trying to create the premier platform for such transactions…first.

Plus, we’re looking at the potential for even more innovation in the space as startups get the capital they need to play with established brands. Nothing like a little competition to keep things interesting, no?

Here’s why the sweatshirt is a staple in streetwear and this is these are the most office-appropriate leggings that you’ll probably ever find.

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