The brand with the story seemed to be the trend overall. Fashion has been moving in this direction, particularly among underground brands for the past few years, which is part of the on-going DIY movement and new subculture shows such as Agenda, which took place two blocks from ASR (see Agenda review), and concepts such as Campground and Pool during MAGIC fashion show.
Nikita Clothing has always explained themselves in terms of their philosophy—for girls who ride. But they also have another story including the fact that they straddle the North American and European tectonic plates by being located in Reykjavik, Iceland. In addition, their head designer, Heida Birgisdottir is one of the best snowboarder, skateboard, and motocross riders in Iceland, which is why she started the brand with partners Runar Omarsson and Valdi Hannensson 5 years ago when she couldn’t find anything she liked to wear. Their winter line for ’05-06 which showcased at ASR clearly shows a more urban and street appeal and retro ‘80s and even ‘70’s styling, including slick black and gold track suits, green striped fitted snow jackets, and excessive use of their trademark reds and blacks.
Among the most urban brand doing new things for girls is DC Girls. More known for their guy shoes and having just been acquired by Quiksilver, DC Girls’ future remains to be seen, however, their denim collection, jackets, wovens, and accessories such as wine and vanilla leg-warmers, are urban and cool. Like many girl brands though, getting their stuff to market through knowledgeable reps, sales force, marketers, and retailers who understand women’s buying patterns is a challenge for the line. Therein lies the problem for many brands doing the girl-thing now.
The girls’ scene is also a part of Vans new story. Most known for their checkerboard slip-ons and punk rock roots, Vans girls is pushing design for girls into a more urban environment, i.e. hoodies, skate shoes, and again, button-down woven shirts.
Zoo York pulls its inspiration mostly from urban skaters in New York City and it shows. Graffiti, hip-hop, and skateboarding—cold, concrete and asphalt, New York style—has always been a part of their package, from shoes to dark clothing, hoodies, caps, T-shirts, and the guys they sponsor.
Volcom had its typical individual style by dressing up their booth in a unique theme: this year is was about going nuts, literally. Their booth was covered with peanuts and reps were passing them out all day long. The energy was still hyped in the area, but not as much as last show, probably because the concept is getting old. Still, their brand continues to attract a younger and younger demographic, particularly with their tie-in to the punk scene.
The spotlight on surf apparel and surf-inspired lifestyle clothing was typically on Billabong and Roxy. But there’s a difference emerging among surf style brands. Billabong you can tell because of their green and blue retro swimsuits and apparel; Roxy is more pastels. RipCurl has stepped up with hoodies, shirts, and shorts, as well as O’Neill with their women’s denim products. But they’re still very “surf” which was reflected in the ElleGirl/ASR fashion show.
Hurley’s junior line again went with pastels, including purple, and an ‘80s look for women, but moving prep, like Quiksilver, for men’s. As we reported in our North American Youth Culture Study fashion ethnography, the new preppy look has roots coming out of two schools—east coast urban and west coast surf. Other lines that stood out against the usual at the fashion show were the DC jacket in green, Oakley’s jackets, Matix pants, and a dress by Ezekiel.
The fashion show also represented the latest stories in accessories, particularly the take-off of Ugg boots moving back into the era of moonboots. Naughty Monkey moccasins (the purple pair with a little heel were the hottest), and BC footwear moccasins were key accessories—especially with the punk addition of a silver chain on the left boot.
Other notable brands included Reef, Amerikan, American Apparel (another brand with a story behind it), Oakley, Matix, DVS, Ezekiel, Too Hot Brazil, Rusty, Etnies, Lost, Atticus, and watch company Nixon with their new move into accessories (and cross-promos with musicians such as Metallica).
Overall, the main story today in action sports and youth culture street and urban fashion is that the brand that stands out has a story to tell. Otherwise they get lost among all that’s taking place in youth culture fashion, which changes incredibly fast. With so many design trends still leaning heavily on retro styles of the past, those with a unique story, mix of design and music, and functionality, are the ones leading the pack.
Military/Camo vs. Bright Colors
DIY, patches, stitching, buttons/pins
Frankenstein hybrid style: ‘80’s, ‘70’s, ‘90’s music genres mixed into one outfit
Story/theme/raison d’etre behind a T-shirt, shoe, jacket, watch, brand…
Faux Fur hoodies
Capri denim (girls)
Jackets in solid subdued colors
Denim for guys and girls
Wovens/colored shirts with art graphics
Cardigans, V-necked sweaters
Psychedelic graphics (including hot colors and camo)
Deer emblems, horns, outlines
Big fur boots
Chains on big boots
Teched-out ‘90’s sneaks (Nike)
Couture art-inspired limited editions (Reebok, Adidas)
White (on occasion)
Bright pinks, purples, orange, red