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Streetwear, in case you hadn’t noticed, has infiltrated every level of dressing. That safety orange sweatshirt, that impractically small beanie, those trainers that may or may not have required a waitlist. It's no longer just about 20-year-olds looking to one-up each other with the latest limited edition pieces. Instead, streetwear grew up.

Unlike bespoke tailoring or avant-garde fashion, streetwear is – at its core – about being accessible. Influenced by both the skate scene in 90s L.A. and the hip-hop world, streetwear's foundations are comfort and practicality. Legacy brands such as Dickies and Carhartt were co-opted by a younger generation. Niche labels such as Supreme sprang up and became desirable – not through the traditional routes of uptown stores and supermodel endorsements, but by word-of-mouth (and artificial scarcity).

Of course, not everyone is a slave to the BAPE. So for those who just want to nod towards the trend, these are the must-haves that will make it easy.

The graphic hoodie

Bold designs are about more than just grabbing people's attention. “With streetwear you’re looking to represent a busy urban environment where there are a lot of visual distractions,” says Thread stylist Freddie Kemp. “Graphics and patterns can send a message, whether that’s political or cultural.”

A graphic can turn something as slouchy as a hoodie into the cornerstone of your look. Especially if the design actually means something to you. The oversized, electrified 'W' on this hoodie by cult Japanese brand WTAPS (pronounced 'double-taps') is a spin on its logo. Wearing it signals an affinity for a particular kind of street culture. Sure, not everyone's going to get that. But with streetwear, that's kind of the point.

The lived-in jeans

Denim is the building block of any self-respecting streetwear wardrobe. The key is finding a pair that will take you from weekday to weekend without looking out of place.

“On the wash front, having a lighter or a washed jean fits in nicely with the casual nature of the streetwear look,” says Freddie. These are, after all, clothes designed to be worn on the streets. It's nice when they look a little lived in.

The statement trainers

If you don’t want to go for the latest, hyped-up release, then your best bet is going retro. A classic pair of trainers from iconic brands like adidas or Puma will earn you kudos, without seeming needy. Go for something neutral and they'll work with everything else in your wardrobe, too.

“Also, there’s the sports connotation,” says Freddie. “For athletes, the most common style for them to rock is a streetwear look. There’s a really cool sporting heritage to trainers like this, with their references to 90s terrace and rave culture as well. Any way you can tie subcultures to streetwear is good.”

The signature accessory

Does it get more old school than a Stüssy beanie, folded up just so and in a must-have shade of orange? We think not. The beauty of donning a bright beanie is that it keeps your ears warm, hides any bad hair days, and instantly turns a set of clothes into an outfit. Our advice? Go bright or go home.

“You can choose to buy a plain hoodie and you can choose to buy a grey beanie, but by going for a bright orange one it shows you’re making that decision,” says Freddie. “It has that youthful, non-conformist feel which is what a lot of streetwear is about. Also, within that look you’ve got orange in the socks and the hoodie, so you’re not just chucking in some crazy bold thing that doesn’t work.”

Words: Theresa Harold
Photography: Chris Howlett
Styling: Brooke Philips