Streetwear is all about drops and product stories as opposed to themes. It is a specific fashion genre, streetwear is a style of comfortable, casual clothing inspire by skateboarding, surfing, hip-hop, punk and other subcultures – think hoodies, t-shirts, trainers, and tracksuit bottoms by companies who aim for a distinct style and ethos.
Capsul, India’s first multi-brand streetwear platform, has a mix of skate brands, pop culture based brands and street luxe brands in its portfolio. The platform has spent the year building partnerships with streetwear brands that it now makes available to Indian consumers through the curated platform, www.shopcapsul.com. It offers over 15 brands to its discerning consumers including Stussy, The Hundreds, Chinatown Market, Thrasher, Carhartt WIP, HUF and Staple Pigeon to name a few. It also has sneaker care products by Reshoevn8r and Rastaclat bracelets.
Capsul’s model of retailing is online, via direct messaging and through popup stores. The brand does not display products at its pop-up stores, but instead creates an IP called ‘Word on the Street’, a platform for India’s street culture community, wherein it brings together tribes representing streetwear, sneakers, art, music or just about anybody with an interest in being a youth culture creator.
Capsul is always on a lookout for great product and greater product stories, curating multiple brands and each brand has interesting products with stories. In the first year of its existence, Capsul worked on projects around street culture such as India’s first Hypecourt Hoopers and Air Canada. It also worked for Budweiser India’s foray into streetwear with BUDXStreet.In an all-encompassing chat with Bhavisha Dave, Co-Founder and Director, Capsul, talks about the prevailing scenario of streetwear fashion in India.
Excerpts from the interview…
How do you feel about the current state of fashion and the growth of streetwear clothing in India?
It is an incredibly exciting time for streetwear in India. With rappers like Kanye becoming designers, global style icons and trend setters, the rise of hip-hop as the most popular genre of music and the growth in influence of communities that started streetwear – skate, surf and graffiti – is enabling this form of self-expression in India.
An almost universal sense of style among Gen Z and Millennials, the proliferation of Instagram and the gradual acceptance of comfortable, functional clothing, including tees, hoodies and cargos, as work wear have catalysed the streetwear movement. Streetwear is poised to explode!
Is the culture of streetwear style still as authentic as it used to be or is everybody just copy and pasting outfits?
Both. There are genuine communities who are the torchbearers, who dress to represent their communities. This is true both in India and outside. An overall shift in the way people are dressing shows that streetwear isn’t just a trend; it’s the fashion component of an attitude that spans music, art, sports and culture. And it seems like everyone wants to be on it. And there are those who want to capitalise on the buzz-worthiness of ‘streetwear’.
As for consumers, there are kinds--and are essential for the eco-system to flourish — those who create looks, style trends, those who appreciate those trends, are inspired by them or just copy paste them.
Has streetwear clothing been able to revolutionise the western wear trend in the country?
The overall athleisure trend has done that. Streetwear is a subset of that trend that gives more importance to community building, product storytelling and authenticity. Globally, streetwear’s impact on luxury as well as the ‘hypebeast’ culture has also been acatalyst for pushing the trend in India.
What does streetwear stand for Millennials and Gen Z in India? What are their style influencers?
We’re seeing two kinds of streetwear consumers — one, those who are fans of the OG (original) streetwear brands, for their heritage, storytelling, role in building sub-culture communities and breaking through societal barriers. Others, those who identify primarily with the ‘hype’ aspect of streetwear. And this is how it is both in India and outside.
Streetwear is a way of representing the tribe or sub-culture you feel connected to. So, if you’re into skateboarding you probably connect with Thrasher, HUF or RIPNDIP. If you’re into art or are opinionated, you probably identify with The Hundreds.
Rappers are the biggest influencers for streetwear, followed by designers of cult brands like Off -White, Heron Preston, The Hundreds, Staple Pigeon, BAPE. We have seen that these personalities are style influencers for early adopters.
Bollywood has embraced luxury inspired by streetwear and been repping ‘streetwear fits’ thus further spreading that aesthetic in India. For a majority of Indians, Bollywood celebrities like Ranveer Singh, DiljithDosanjh, Ranbir Kapoor, etc., are style influencers. Micro influencers focusing on streetwear content also influence their communities.
Tell us about the competition in this category and how do you make your fashion brand stand out from the rest?
The space is nascent in India and at this point in time everyone involved is helping build the market. It is too early for competition, in our opinion.
The streetwear landscape in India currently has Capsul, which is the only platform offering streetwear at retail prices, VegNonVeg, India’s first sneaker boutique that also has their own branded streetwear drops and Superkicks. There also are a few other amazing Indian labels such as Space Biskit, Jaywalking, NorBlackNorWhite, Huemn and NoughtOne. And then there are resellers who curate hype brands and resell them to various communities, spread across India.
As we’ve said before, it’s a very exciting time because the ‘tee’ has never been a bigger canvas for making a statement or showing one’s creativity. We’re regularly seeing new brands popping up, inspired by Indian streets and Indian culture. Consumers who want to buy authentic streetwear, whatever their definition of streetwear is, will buy brands that speak to them. And they know where to buy streetwear.
How has Indian retail identified the prospects of this category? Are big box retailers giving space to new breed of streetwear brands or its just restricted to e-commerce?
We’re seeing brands and platforms include ‘streetwear’ or ‘streetstyle’ in their offerings to consumers. However, most of the traction and push is from our platforms and the brands that I have mentioned earlier, along with Bollywood celebrities and rappers.
Do you think the mainline sportswear brands link well with the streetwear category too?
Yes. They go very well together. And personally, we believe that sports brands have been instrumental in the mainstreaming of streetwear. While streetwear helps keeps all collaborators relevant and topical. Streetwear has its origins in action sports and has been regularly collaborating in creating exciting drops.
How would you define the future of streetwear clothing?
Streetwear is an attitude, it’s the fashion expression of youth culture. Streetwear is also sometimes about being among the only few wearing it. So, it’s possible the early adopters who took to streetwear because of its ethos, will continue looking for more obscure emerging brands. All of these factors along with more access to fashion trends through social media are going to help catalyse the streetwear scene in India, over the next few years.