The appropriation of luxury and premium brands formed the basis of the streetwear look. From the casuals and dressers of the North who wore premium Italian sportswear (Stone Island, C.P. Company), to the Lo Life Crew of America who borrowed from the Preppy Polo Ralph Lauren look, the way in which these subcultures took and repurposed pieces to tell their own story was defined by the street. Now, everyone is in on the game, with luxury brands from Gucci to Valentino tapping into what has become a global trend. “Street culture was only street culture because everyone in the scene aspired to have luxury brands. Hence half the rappers name checking lots of luxury brands, it was an aspirational thing.” High fashion is now appropriating the very look that was once borrowed from them.
On the evolution of streetwear and sneaker culture from when he started out, into the digitally driven, hyper-luxury phenomenon it is today, Kish explains the differences, for better or worse. “There was less available, and some of the stuff you really wanted was hard to find. You’d be lucky if you went abroad on occasion like I did, to visit family in the States and Canada – that’s when you’d come back with stuff that wasn’t available elsewhere. It was all about being individualistic and having your own look – being the first to have something, or having something different, and you’d be admired for that. These days, it’s all about conformity. You’re not someone unless you’ve got latest Off-White release, or the latest Supreme box logo. It’s gone from being a few people in the know to a much bigger thing. I would argue that street style has got less to do with the street than it ever has done, because most of the people who are wearing it now aren’t from the street, but they want it to look like they are, which is quite funny really.”
In a bid to sustain a more authentic and off-line version of the sneaker and streetwear culture he holds dear, Kish got involved with Milk Collective and Sneakerness. The former is a group of in-the-know writers who authored the first ever book on sneaker culture back in ’98 Sneakers: Size Isn’t Everything. Kish’s involvement is a statement – honouring the original stories of the scene to better understand what is happening today. The latter is the London edition of the global Sneakerness convention. “It’s to draw community to the culture and provide a platform for likeminded enthusiasts to meet up and get some bargains, and have a chit chat. Because if everything is all social, via the internet, then how do we interact apart from virtually?” For Kish, the joy of sneakers is IRL, not Instagram. From the thrill of getting your hands on a sought-after pair of kicks, to meeting a likeminded obsessive to coo over a rare collab with. Thanks for keeping us connected, Kish, a true Sole Man. We’ll be staying in touch for sure.