'Gully Boy' fever continues: Hip-hop streetwear makes more room in wardrobes of millennials
Street wear is one of the largest and the fastest growing categories in Myntra.
Inspired by the story of a street rapper from Mumbai, a hoodie-sporting Ranveer Singh chanting 'Apna time aayega' doled out the third-highest grossing film so far this year in ‘Gully Boy’.
Now, the film’s hip-hop street wear style — hoodies, tees and sneakers often emblazoned with bold graphics and colours — is what young customers are demanding from fashion retailers, and gaining momentum from it are more than a dozen street-inspired labels such as Veg And Non Veg, HUF, Roadster, Breakbounce and Skult, Stussy, Chinatown Market, The Hundreds, and Thrasher.
“Street wear is one of the largest and the fastest growing categories in Myntra,” said Amar Nagaram, head of top online fashion retailers Myntra and Jabong.
“The primary consumer is under the age of 25, and clearly becoming experimental in their choice of brands and looks.” The Flipkart-owned fashion portals had launched street wear as a separate vertical in 2017 with about 200 brands and witnessed double-digit growth in the category since the release of Gully Boy in February.
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While fashion brands and department stores are busy rejigging sales floors to court youngsters with street wear, even non-apparel companies such as the world’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev have joined the rush. “Customers specifically ask for street-wear styles worn by film stars in movies like ‘Student of The Year 2’…(or for) real-life or airport look,” said Vasanth Kumar, managing director at fashion retailer Lifestyle International. With a median population age of about 27 years, India is estimated to have about 390 million millennials and about 440 million in the Generation Z cohort, according to a recent study by consulting firm Deloitte. That's a huge consumer base – more than 11% of the world’s population – with many trying to sport the younger, hipper look.
People born between mid-1980s and mid-1990s are considered millennials, and those born between mid-1990s and early 2000s belong to Gen Z. No wonder, then, AB InBev, maker of Budweiser and Corona beer, is launching an inhouse collection of street wear in the next two months, based on a throwback theme that pays an ode to Budweiser in the America of 1960s.
“Street wear is about freedom and youth culture which aligns with Budweiser’s positioning,” said Kartikeya Sharma, vice-president, marketing, South Asia at AB InBev. “We are not in the retail business, but this is an opportunity to enter the lives of consumers beyond beer.” AB InBev rolled out online collections in collaboration with Indian street wear designer brands earlier this year.
Merchandise such as trainers, over sized hoodies, baggy and bold graphic t-shirts inspired by hip-hop, skateboard and surf wear culture are the new status symbol for fashion-conscious young consumers from across Indian cities rewired by the internet. And the trend is spreading beyond urban centres now.
Capsul, a Bengaluru-based web shop for international street wear brands, said a quarter of its sales comes from Tier 2 and 3 markets. “Street wear is being looked upon as affordable wearable art and an organic progression from sneaker head culture that gained popularity in recent times,” said Bhavisha Dave, co-founder of Capsul.
“Our vision was to target 15-28-year olds. However, we receive orders from 10-35-year olds,” she said.
But streetwear alone won’t draw younger consumers. Brands are approaching the products from the point of how to make them less intimidating despite edgier fashion bent. With India's growing appetite for badminton, kabaddi and hockey, sports can be a good hook, experts said.
“Consumers in India over the last few years have been open to colour adaptations and bold in-your-face prints,” said Rakesh Kathayat, chief operating officer at Cravatex Brands that manages India operations for California-based skater footwear label Vans. “Our customer is one who is driven by personal choice, an individual who genuinely believes in the art of creative expression of any kind.”