Strategy& and Hypebeast drop report on streetwear fashion market

23 May 2019 3 min. read

Fashion publication and online retailer HYPEBEAST has teamed up with consultancy Strategy& to examine the global streetwear market, with 40 percent of enthusiasts in China and Japan revealing that a key motivation for sporting streetwear was in making a political statement.

PwC’s global strategy arm Strategy& has joined forces with online fashion media company HYPEBEAST to produce possibly the most comprehensive insight into the streetwear fashion market to date, with the resultant Streetwear Impact Report including a survey of more than 30,000 streetwear fashionistas from around the world – nearly 60 percent of them hailing from Asia.

With the Asian demographic in turn dominated by respondents in Korea (~30%) and China (~11%) – two of the newer, burgeoning international streetwear markets – the survey revealed a distinct split in consumer motivation, indicative of the varying geographic maturity levels of the streetwear scene. Here, some 41% of respondents in China and Japan cited the political statement of wearing streetwear as a key motivating factor, compared to just 11% in North America and Europe.

While both geographic pairs selected ‘coolness’ as their primary motivation for adorning themselves in streetwear, followed most closely in agreement by ‘comfortable clothing’ (with the North American/European cohort also highly valuing ‘exclusivity’), on the flip-side to the Asian preferencing of ‘political statement’, North American and European streetwear consumers commonly cited ‘community’ – at a rate of nearly 40%, compared to just 7% in the two aforementioned Asian nations.Strategy& and Hypebeast drop report on global streetwear fashion marketThe differences, say the authors, reflect the changing face of streetwear; “Among the demographic where streetwear originated, community still carries great weight,” states the report, referring to streetwear’s emergence from 1980s and 90s countercultures such as the graffiti, hip-hop, and skate-boarding scenes. Yet, “as the style has been adopted and exported to new markets, interests have shifted.”

One further indicator of this shift in interest can be found in the average spend – which is as high as $1,000 per item for ~13% of Japanese consumers and above $300 for more than 60%, compared to the less than 1% of Western consumers who fork over a grand on average per item and the 85% who on average spend below $300 – demonstrating how streetwear has morphed across consumer segments and infiltrated the luxury market.

The notion of these divergent consumer habits as being relative to differing cultural perspectives is further backed by the responses given as to the fashionable longevity of streetwear items. Effectively three quarters of respondents in North America and Europe contended that streetwear products are always in style, while this figure dropped to just over one half of respondents from Asia being in agreement. “These insights highlight streetwear’s current market segmentation,” forwards the report. 

Here, the researchers categorise the market as featuring four distinct subdivisions; original streetwear brands, sportswear brands, adopted streetwear brands, and luxury streetwear brands. Whereas original streetwear brands place an emphasis on accessible price points, comfortable clothing and authenticity, luxury streetwear brands “reflect the most recent emergence of brands that blur the lines between original streetwear and luxury fashion.”

The report concludes; “The young, hungry consumer who is part of the on-the-ground community that drives streetwear’s brand of cool is not necessarily the same consumer who spends big on streetwear-inspired products. Instead, our survey results reveal that in newer markets to streetwear, the characteristics of the movement more closely mirror the traditional fashion market: product has a shorter lifestyle, community takes a back seat, and spend is significantly higher.”