It’s a 180-degree turnaround from the way high-fashion has operated since time immemorial, but high-priced tee-shirts, sweatshirts and even sneakers have made their way into the portfolios of brands like Gucci, Neiman Marcus and Louis Vuitton. 

According to Glossy, streetwear is now a $300 billion market worldwide, and retailers from every corner of the fashion industry are clamoring to get a piece of the action. UK-based luxury department store Selfridges, most typically known for its high-end goods, has launched a 1,775 square-foot sneaker gallery in its Oxford Street store in London featuring 700 styles from “fashion sneakers” to more traditional brands like Nike and Converse. The gallery is meant to cater to so-called “sneaker heads,” or die-hard sneaker enthusiasts, a rapidly growing consumer segment in the U.S. and abroad.

Streetwear is Making Department Stores Cool Again

Nordstrom has announced a partnership with streetwear consignment company Stadium Goods, which specializes in rare or limited-edition sneakers. As part of the deal, Stadium Goods will set up a concept shop inside Nordstrom’s soon-to-open men’s store in Manhattan.

Typically, Stadium Goods operates on a consignment basis, buying and selling rare or discontinued items that draw in sneaker enthusiasts ready to pay top dollar. Nordstrom’s partnership will involve a more subdued approach, featuring Stadium Goods’ monthly top-sellers, and it will not be accepting sneakers on consignment. Nordstrom is capitalizing on the sneaker head trend in the hopes that some of its coolness will rub off on the company and attract more millennial male shoppers to its stores.

Fueling the Hype Machine

Part of the appeal of streetwear is hype and scarcity, and the products tend to fly off the shelves significantly faster than other apparel categories, according to Glossy. According to data from Edited, streetwise and sneakers sold in luxury department stores like Neiman Marcus sell out, on average, in 134 days, as compared to 251 days for other apparel types.

The release of new sneakers or the latest streetwear has become an event. Barneys is capitalizing on this trend with their own release parties. A recent event held in partnership with Highsnobiety included 30 exclusive product debuts. Highsnobiety curated the featured products and brands, which included names like Off-White, Heron Preston and Amiri, according to Glossy.

Trends come and go, but the white-hot streetwear market has become impossible for even legacy retailers to ignore. Expect further collaborations between noted streetwear brands and high-end department stores going forward, as casual is the new dressy, and streetwear has become the new luxury.

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