Streetwear has always been a staple in Asian circles. From Harajuku Japan’s obsession with vintage sneakers down to K-Pop’s powerful influence on today’s trends and fits, it seems that Asia draws inspiration from what the U.S. and Europe have started and gives it back with even more passion and umph. For sure, they may be the originators, but what’s amazing about Asia is its ability to morph something normal into a groundbreaking trend. Streetwear is all about one’s mindset and how far you can take it, so far that it breaks stereotypes and borders, strong enough to be called a global movement.

The Humble Beginnings

Asian streetwear’s popularity may be attributed to Japan’s obsession with western culture. The country’s penchant for pushing everything to another level has sparked a movement, one with a disregard for subtlety and more for lasting impact. That means extra baggy clothing, puffier jackets, and more colorful sneakers for added effect.

A Brave Mix

One thing that’s commendable about the Asian streetwear movement is its ability to explore possibilities. Harajuku has defined more of an attitude than an aesthetic. It encourages freedom of expression, which is a melting pot of influences. Ranging from the visual Kei look to the hardcore, punk, and goth disciplines to skateboarding and hip-hop.

The Shirts

Basically, it is the foundation of streetwear. The bigger the print, the better. Most designs draw inspiration from basketball icons, legendary rappers, and pop culture giants. Sly and even obnoxious slogans with wordplay are often present, making them extra appealing to the era’s younger demographic.

The Sneakers

Streetwear won’t exist without sneakers. Owning the most rare and exclusive sneakers is a must when it comes to assembling one’s aesthetic. It just takes the wearer’s ensemble to a new level.

The Asian Persuasion

If we are to talk about influencers within the Asian landscape, then look no further. Nigo, who started A Bathing Ape (BAPE), has taken his Planet of the Apes obsession to another level by creating a brand out of it. Bobby Kim of The Hundreds has pushed the power of “people over product” and community through The Hundreds. Crooks & Castles, owned by Dennis Calvero and Robert Panlilio, boast a strong streetwise aesthetic, while ATMOS, founded by Hidefumi Hommyo, started out as a sneaker store in Japan and has since become a streetwear brand of sorts and remains fully operational to this day. All these brands and owners mentioned merely scratch the surface, as Asians really do have the streetwear game on lock.

The Present Influence of K-Pop

Aside from the music, K-Pop is globally known to be stylish. Its global grasp and overpowering influence have immensely sparked a movement inspired by its Japanese counterparts. Check out any K-Pop group member’s outfits, and you’ll see the trendiest and most hyped brands. The most amazing thing about this one is that it creates trends that extend to global fanfare. Isn’t that amazing?

It’s Not Slowing Down Anytime Soon

As of now, based on trend forecasts and the pulse of the public, the Asian presence in streetwear remains stronger than ever. It’s only a matter of time until we see another groundbreaking brand or two that will take it to greater heights. We do change with the times, and our influence on streetwear will always be omnipresent.