Blame Instagram, blame the dizzying fashion cycle, but it seems our subcultures never seem to hang around that long any more. So as we bid bye-bye to the post-Soviets, in-and-out in less time than it took to dismantle the Berlin Wall, we welcome six new looks to bite right now.
Elbowing their way into the zeitgeist, these style tribes aren’t just overpowering your Instagram feed, they’re turning the heads of designers. Their looks are filtering into luxury and high street collections alike. They’re all over pop culture, and soon they’re likely to find their way into your wardrobe in one way or another.
What is it? As detailed in W David Marx’s excellent book of the same name, ‘Ametora’ is the Japanese contraction of ‘American Traditional’. Initially, it meant the Ivy League style that Japanese teenagers co-opted in the 1960s, but now includes all the classic Americana that was first copied in Japan, then improved, then perfected. With Hawaiian shirts trending last summer, this is an evolution of that mid-century aesthetic, being referenced in spring next year by high street labels.
How To Wear It
Ametora is the way that Japanese designers recreate American style in their own way, from cowboys to bikers and even hip-hop. But the most obvious way into the look is artisanal reworkings of things like denim, workwear, unstructured blazers and knits. “Stick to a classic colour palette of neutral tan, deep brown and navy, with the introduction of colour through printed shirts, ties and scarves,” says stylist Toby Standing, from personalised menswear shop Thread.”Mix up your textures and definitely invest in some wide, selvedge jeans.”
Japan’s select stores were the first to bring the American look over, and Beams is still a stronghold for Ametora. As far as denim goes, perhaps no brand cares more – or costs more – than Visvim, which somehow makes Western-inspired jeans that feel more authentic than the real thing. If you’re more into the Ivy League look, then Osaka’s Ring Jacket has been there since the beginning.
The guys that championed skatewear in the mid-’90s are now approaching 40. At least. Time to grow up, then, without trading in your identity. Perhaps as a reaction to all those hype-fuelled streetwear brands, the new generation (which is actually the previous generation) is creating prep-influenced clothes that you could wear for a quick mini-ramp session on the way to dinner at your in-laws.
How To Wear It
Not head-to-toe logos. “Fit is the key component here,” says Standing. In this more mature world, there’s no reason the timeless skater uniform of baggy Dickies and a hoodie can’t be finished with a soft-shouldered blazer, or a chunky knit.
Doing skate right isn’t about being first outside Palace any more. For one, all those logos are starting to feel a bit inauthentic. Instead, look to older heads, like Brendon Babenzien, who left his gig as creative director of Supreme to found Noah, which features loose tailoring alongside its logo hoodies and Aprix, which does smart-ish skate shoes. Fellow New York brand Aimé Leon Dore also does a neat spin on grown-up streetwear – think rugby shirts and cable-knit cardigans – while Awake NY has you covered for legal-drinking-age takes on graphic prints.
Depending on your level of cynicism, this man-the-barricades-inspired trend is either designers reflecting a collapsing society back at us, or the worst kind of exploitation. Think tactical vests, belts with buckles borrowed from helicopter gunships, and in one instance, an actual riot shield. Well, it’ll help on drop day.
How To Wear It
Going all-in on your war core look can quickly start to feel a touch prepper. So apply the military touches lightly. “It’s all about technical and tactical items finding their way into everyday outfits,” says Standing. Cross-body bags and mesh vests are the more obvious ways in, but anything ripstop or covered in pockets, poppers and heavy buckles taps the trend, too. “It’s function and form, which also means it’s not adventurous in colour.” Think dark greys and khakis, with the odd bit of black and beige.
As a look inspired by the streets, it’s appropriate that streetwear brands would lead the charge. The key one is Alyx, whose rollercoaster belts have become something of a sensation – Kim Jones even tapped its founder Matthew Williams to craft a special version for his debut show at Dior. Williams is a former Kanye acolyte, around whom you’ll find this trend concentrated (he’s been doing the combat kit thing with Yeezus for a few years now, after all). At Heron Preston, that means flak jackets, whereas for Off-White and now Louis Vuitton boss Virgil Abloh, it gets more literal with berets and paratrooper trousers.
This look has been around for a while. As in, a century and some, based as it is on Industrial-era workwear, chunky knits and boots you can drop bits of tractor on without coming a cropper. Not so long ago, British heritage fashion was about tweed jackets, brogues and countryside aesthetics. Now, perhaps taking a cue from the popularity of American workwear, this very rugged approach to utility fashion.
How To Wear It
The heritage look’s been big for close to a decade now in one form or another, originally as a reaction to how soft modern life had got. Freed from suits, creative types began dressing like old factory workers in an effort to grasp hold of something that felt authentic. Which translated as time-tested materials designed to protect you from elements and machinery, but which as a bonus all look quite sharp in a Shoreditch content agency. “A dark waxed outer layer, like a Barbour field jacket, with some dark denim, leather work boots and textured knitwear can be your go-to for a great British look,” says Standing.
Ideally, you want to pick up pieces from labels who’ve got some history under the belt. Barbour’s been making its waxed jackets in South Shields for a century, fellow motorcycle specialist Belstaff still makes some of the best leathers anywhere, while for footwear you can take your pick of any Northampton brand. We’d go Grenson for something with a modern twist, or Loake if you like to keep things classic.
Guitar music might be struggling in the charts, but its look is about as easy to kill as Keith Richards. Look to Michigan rockers Greta Van Fleet, with their musty-looking mix of leather and denim, or Atlantans the Black Lips, for something a touch muckier. Or keep an eye on Hedi Slimane (the guy who made skinny jeans a thing), back making rock n roll menswear at Celine after leaving Saint Laurent in 2016.
How To Wear It
Skin, attitude, a flagrant disregard for what parents think looks good. In other words, everything that’s always made rock ‘n’ roll unique. “It’s a kind of modern evolution of what Steven Tyler was wearing in Aerosmith,” says Standing. “Loose, printed shirts, unbuttoned perhaps too far, with skin-tight black jeans and a pair of worn-in Chelsea boots. Swap the shirt for a faded band tee if you’re not feeling particularly pirate-y.”
It can be expensive to look this trashy – Saint Laurent still has that Slimane DNA, and his first collection at Celine will drop soon. Then you have brands that never quit the rockstar aesthetic like The Kooples or AllSaints on the high street. But really, vintage is best. You want everything you wear to look like it’s been on the road a few times, so try to find leather jackets and skinny jeans that actually have.
The mashed-up, anything goes aesthetic favoured by Korea’s zeitgeist-y pop stars, who espouse a similarly genre-agnostic approach to music, is less a look and more a mindset. More is more, trends are fleeting but to be embraced wholesale, individuality is all, although ideally in a way that shows you get groupthink. In the mix here there’s preppy fashion, unstructured tailoring, big-brand streetwear and some ’80s denim for good measure.
How To Wear It
Do you avoid the limelight? Does having your photo taken make you uncomfortable? Do you think three belts is too many belts? Then K-pop fashion may not be for you. “It’s a real mix of high-end brands and trends,” says Standing. “You want to be adorned in the latest silhouettes, with the latest sneakers and extraordinary hair.”
K-pop is as much about Balenciaga as it is Palace, but if you’re hitting a nice high-low contrast in one look, you should be good. For authenticity, look to mix in some actual Korean brands: Ader Error has been labelled as Seoul’s Vetements, for its collective approach to design and ugly-is-beautiful spin on streetwear; 87mm specialises in slouchy, off-duty staples like puffers and fleeces; and Thisisneverthat is basically a homegrown spin on Supreme, ideal for where’d-you-get-that? accessories.