Thailands obsession with streetwear

How American Streetwear took over Bangkok.

Zameen Brar, Editor

Bangkok, a city known for its skyscrapers and ping-pong shows is quickly becoming one of the world’s most fashionable capitals. The booming economy has seen high-end designer brands blow up, with rich kids burning through cash on the latest trends.

Mirroring the West’s obsession with hip-hop, luxury streetwear has become the uniform of choice for the young and wealthy. With a surplus of high-end boutiques neighboring cheap knock-off stalls, young people are copying trends set by Instagram influencers.

We spoke to fashion photographer, Dylan Vechaton, to find out how American streetwear is shaping youth culture in Thailand.

First, tell us a bit about how you got into fashion photography.

I’ve always loved Photography, when I started getting into sneakers I started taking sneaker pics. I got my inspiration from guys on Instagram and Facebook groups, I wanted to express my outfit so that’s how I got into Fashion Photography.

When did you first start noticing that American streetwear was becoming big in Thailand?

American fashion has always been noticeable in Thailand and “Streetwear” has been around for decades. It started blowing up late 2015 when the Yeezy 350s were released. People caught on to the hype seeing the Yeezys resell value, then poured into the culture hoping to make quick money. Most celebrities were also in on it, setting trends that people followed. Streetwear turned more and more mainstream and now everyone knows what it is.

What are your favorite brands right now?

My favorite brands are Supreme, Off-White, Vetements, and much more, I can say I’m a Hypebeast.

We’ve seen similar trends in other Asian countries such as Korea, why do people like this look so much?

Personally, I think people wanted to look the part. Asian culture is highly influenced by the west, people want to stay “In Trend” so whatever the Americans or Europeans are on. This doesn’t apply to all Asian countries, some actually start trends, like Japan or Korea.

Do you think Instagram is the reason behind the growing street-wear trend?

Definitely, Instagram is a platform to express streetwear and people get inspired by others, that’s how it keeps growing.

A lot of brands are insanely expensive, Off-white for example sells T-shirts for hundreds of dollars. How are young people affording these clothes?

Most young people in Thailand just admire the brands, some hustle by reselling. The ones who can afford them are usually spoiled kids with rich parents. I personally resell to buy things I want, in Thailand it’is huge, so many people are into reselling rather than actually wearing. It’s kind of sad but It’s just how the streetwear scene is. Gon’t get me wrong though, there are plenty of people in it for the culture too.

Do you think the appeal of some labels like Stone Island has more to do with the price-tag than the look?

Definitely, this is really noticeable in Thailand, people think just because the brand they’re wearing costs a lot, it means its cool. People just buy what’s pricey to show off.

By copying American fashion do you think Thailand is missing an opportunity to develop a look of its own?

Yes and No. Yes because most brands are highly influenced by American fashion and no because Thailand already has it’s own “look”. People are really Into a Thai Brand called Hold’em, It’s become the “Thai Streetwear” look. Basically, the outfit consists an expensive tee, a pair of Hold’em joggers which cost around 180$-800$ US, a pair of Gucci Sneakers or just Yeezys. In some cases hyped Collaboration NMDs or UBs. I personally hate this look, the outfit screams I have money but no sense of style. It would be great to see something new from Thailand.

What are the big Thai street brands right now?

I would say Carnival and SneakaVilla. I can’t really think of anything else. There’s also Hold’em Denim but I don’t consider it as a Street Brand. There are loads of up and coming small brands that may blow up in the future.

Lastly a few quick-fire questions for our readers traveling to Bangkok:
Best place to buy Sneakers

I would say Carnival, Slum Ltd also has a wide variety but given that they’re a consignment store their prices may be higher than the market. KANEZ and Yo Khris are go to’s as well.

Best street-wear store

Personally, I buy my streetwear online, there’s more variety and it’s usually cheaper. I buy from FB groups and IG Stores, but if you’re looking for a Walk in store I recommend Upper Ground, Carnival. Then theres KANEZ, Outcast, Slum LTD for hyped pieces with resell value. Outcast also sells small Thai brands but their main selling point is Supreme. Though beware, recently they were exposed for selling fakes. For your own safety, I recommend legit checking after purchasing from them. They claim that all their items are authentic so If you do buy something fake from them, they will refund you. Be sure to bring evidence of the sale and you should be good.

Best place to find knock-offs

Knock-offs are everywhere from nightmarkets, the street, or even in some malls. But if you really want knock-offs I say go to Chatuchak weekend market. Be sure to bargain because they like selling it expensive to foreigners.

Favourite club/bar

I highly Recommend BEAM, DEMO and DND. These places are different than regular clubs because they’re more Western. The music they play and the drinks they serve are way different than in regular clubs/bars. You should also check out SWAY, drinks aren’t too expensive and the music they play is either modern rap or trap, not just regular EDM and pop. All of these are in Thonglor, a district where the young go out to party on weekends. You can find multiple places to get drinks and hangout with friends here.

Any other recommendations for places to check out?

If you’re looking for streetwear head to Siam, that’s where most stores are. It’s also Bangkoks most popular place for people to hangout during the day. If you’re into the nightlife shoot straight towards Thonglor or Sukhumvit. Clubs, bars you name it, all here. Perfect for getting wasted with friends on a Saturday night, but watch your spending, stuff in this area ain’t cheap.

If you’re looking to experience the culture I say head to Wat Phra Kaew also known as The Temple of the Emerald Buddha. If you have a chance check out the Chatuchak weekend market. Loads of things to buy for cheap. It’s really hot during the day so dress light. Most importantly, don’t forget to bargain, sellers sell to foreigners at a higher price.

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