Street wear has evolved from a subculture movement into a major fashion trend. There is no need to call it a global phenomenon. Sector leader Supreme may have first arrived in China via Dover Street Market Beijing in November 2022, but it is far from being introduced to mainland streetwear.
When it comes to streetwear consumption, Chinese Generation Z is promoting a culture different from that of the West. This fact stems in part from the history of American and European hip hop, which has not equally resonated in China. With the national pride of being “Made in China”, internet trends and eclectic pockets of subcultures in such a populous country, more and more local high street brands are gaining cult status.
From Roaringwild and Sankuanz to Randomevent and Melting Sadness, famous names may not seem like they have millions of followers on Weibo, but their popularity comes from the community and foreign brands that partner with them.
Global sportswear brands such as Reebok, Fila, Adidas and Puma have partnered with these Gen Z favorite local brands as a result of their increasingly powerful headquarters in China.
As cult sneakerhead Jeff Staple told Jing Daily in 2022, “China is becoming a major sales force for these brands, so collaborations are getting the green light more often than ever. Historically American and French, Wilson and Salomon are also now wholly owned by Chinese corporations (both owned by the Anta Group). They are no longer #1 and #2 sales leaders, but executives.
As these sportswear brands instill confidence in Chinese streetwear, global awareness of them is increasing day by day. Therefore, now is the perfect moment to introduce the most interesting players in the growing Chinese scene.
Founders: College friends Sai, Mimi, Qiao, Ppl, and Reika.
Biography: Born in Shenzhen, Roaringwild is a celebration of Chinese street culture that combines influences from art and music. Each of the seasonal collections features simple cool architecture and an urban minimalist vibe.
The collective behind the brand encourages its consumers, mainly Generation Z, to “roar” using clothing as a means of self-expression. And he has created a unique aesthetic that is used by a long list of global brands, including Puma, Casio, Adidas and Vans.
Roaringwild started selling on Taobao in 2010, but it has definitely gained popularity in recent years, becoming one of the most popular items on the local street scene.
Founder: Junker Hong
Release Date: 2012
Biography: Randomevent is another popular record label that originated on the mainland. and is now sold in 23 cities, including Beijing, Changsha, Hangzhou and Shanghai. Milan and New York
Created from the brand’s youthful image. Ready-to-wear features slouchy silhouettes, bold shades and solid pieces like fleece and cargo pants. According to founder Junker Hong, the brand’s inspiration comes from 1990s pop culture aesthetics. which is popular among Chinese Generation Z and Millennials
Brands such as Mizuno, Gramichi, Reebok, Puma and New Balance have tried to emulate the Randomvent cult through collaboration. The brand has also launched its very own Be@rbrick for the year of 2020.
Founders: Simo Zhou and Une Ye
Release Date: 2015
Biography: At the other end of the premium streetwear spectrum, Staffonli was created by two friends who graduated from London’s Royal College of Art and London College of Fashion.
With growing partnerships with brands like Onitsuka Tiger, Ugg, Monopoly and Puma, Staffonli has become a staple in the local streetwear space. This playful collection pairs sweatpants with shirts, experimenting with different textures. From leather to frayed sleeves
2022 launched the NFT series created in collaboration with Studio Office Creative and dedicated to Ugg Tasman, a project that reflects how the brand pushes the boundaries between the digital and the physical.
Founder: Taf Leung
Start date: 2015
Biography: Designing an apocalyptic look, Humkus is a technical clothing brand born in Guangzhou. Each collection is built around the idea of characters created for an otherworldly universe and features head-to-toe military clothing, ethereal jackets and exaggerated turbans.
Adidas, known for spotlighting local talent, partnered with Hamkus for their final Fall 2022 collection.
All over Weibo, you’ll find pictures of Gen Zers posting their OOTDs (Outfits of the Day) with #hamcus# tags. Collectively, they portray the grunge aesthetic you’d expect to see on a typical art school campus.
Founder: Liang Dong
Start date: 2015
Bio: The endeavor is known for its functional minimalism and experimentation with different techniques and fabrics. It was the brainchild of Liang Dong, who founded the brand after graduating from the Hubei Academy of Arts.
With 19,000 followers on Weibo – an impressive number for a streetwear brand in China – the brand’s cool sci-fi identity has attracted a loyal following. As a result, the company launched apparel and footwear brands such as Ugg and Puma. The first was unveiled in January 2023, reflecting the brand’s signature focus on architectural design.
The founder said in a 2018 interview that fans wear streetwear in China because they want to create a unique lifestyle. “I try to focus on creating clothes that can be adapted to different situations and worn in different ways,” says Dong.
Founder: Shangguan Zhe
Start date: 2008
Biography: Sankuanz, one of the most popular names, is sold by global retailers such as Farfetch, Ssense and Yoox. Like brands like Attempt and Humkus, Sankuanz has a dystopian feel. Think faux bulletproof clothing and hybrid functionality.
At the higher end of the spectrum, the label has been exhibiting at Paris Fashion Week since 2016. So even though it’s known for its streetwear, there are also things that fit the Parisian streets.
Sankuanz has also done several global shoe releases, including crossovers with Crocs, Puma and Adidas.