Streetwear is my nemesis. Actually, that's not really true. People's reactions, assumptions and mental associations with streetwear are my nemesis. I bring this up now because streetwear is undergoing a fashion revival. Before I go into my current issues with this, let's take a trip down memory lane.
There was a time, from the ages of 15-18, when you could describe my dress as streetwear. Baggy hoodies, Akademiks (PRPS is the best rebrand ever), Sean John. All XXL, all 38 waist. Just so you get a clear mental image, imagine a lanky 6'2 kid who could've fitted into a medium and 34 waist pair of jeans wear that aforementioned get up. It was a funny time.
One time I was getting on the train, resplendent in a XXL And1 hoodie and black jeans so large I could have fit another person inside and done an egg and spoon race. It was a relatively crowded train but I managed to find a seat. The woman sitting opposite me wasn't pleased by my arrival. Due to my dress code, she'd assumed I was a hoodlum type. A goon, if you will. She sneered at me as if to say "I'm disgusted and appalled by you but please don't rob me". Yes, you can say that much from a sneer.
I sat down, pulled out my A-level Law book and started revising.
The look on her face changed from revulsion to confusion sprinkled with a little shock. She spent the entire train journey (I say entire, it was about 15 minutes) staring at me, trying to figure out this puzzle of a person dressed like an (American) goon studying AS level Law. I found it hilarious.
Back to present day.
I'm want to avoid non-incidents like the one above happening again, so I have to tread into the work of streetwear very, very carefully. I've come up with a grading system on how yout(h) orientated an item of clothing is and whether I can get away with them. I'm marking them out of 5 mandems - stars aren't cool enough - just so you know.
Baseball cap - 5/5 Mandem's
For me, the baseball cap is the ultimate streetwear yout(h) accessory. No matter what fancy material you make it with, it will always be associated with yout(h) behaviour. In fact, as has been seen by fashion's take on it, the only way to change the association is to change the wearer. On a fashion editor at New York fashion week = harmless. On me at 8pm in the depths of winter = harmful. It's a shame but as 2Pac says, that's just the way it is, some things will never change.
Running trainers - 3/5 Mandem's
This one depends greatly on the trainer itself and what it's worn with. Vintage running nikes are harmless, you can't run in those things. But a pair of Air Max 95's and some jeans and, in the eyes of some, I might as well stamp 'potential hoodlum' on my forehead. But a pair of Nike Free's are harmless due to the fact they're the newest Nikes and, therefore, an association blank canvas.
The main style trick people are doing is wearing them with trousers, which brings the mandem score down by 2 mandems. I've found that wearing them with anything other than black jeans brings the mandem score up by two. So I'll wear these with indigo denim the next time I go to the barbers and with black jeans when I go anywhere else.
Basketball trainers - 6/5 Mandem's
No. Just no. High top basketball trainers are a step up in the mandem stakes from the Air Max 95's, which is saying something. Add in the fact that I never liked Jordans and you've got a recipe for a trainer that I'll never wear unless I'm doing a Drake and shooting in the gym.
Bomber jackets - 1/5 Mandem
Technically part of the streetwear revival, only the most hardened mental associators (you know, racists) still strictly link the bomber jacket with goon mentality. There's also the fact that bomber jackets have been back for a while now, so everyone's wearing one.
So, as you can see from the mandem score above, I can only wear one streetwear item at a time. Anything else is the streetwear equivalent of going Tropic Thunder's 'Full 'tard'. You only go half 'tard, never all the way.