Before you have to search the Internet for what "Hypebeast" means, someone is passionately buying and collecting the latest clothing from the world of streetwear.
Streetwear is a specific kind of fashion, a style of casual and comfortable clothing inspired by skateboarding, surfing, hip-hop, punk and other subcultures.
Think of hoodies, t-shirts, sneakers and sweatpants, but made in limited quantities by brands looking for a distinct style and philosophy.
It originated in the United States before being globalized in the 1990s. Today the market is still dominated by American heavyweights such as Supreme and Stussy, but in recent years an increasing number of new Asian brands are entered the sphere. And their sales are up sharply.
"The pleasure of discovering a small Asian brand of streetwear means that I stand out in a saturated market, where everyone is wearing the same thing," said Mr. Aw.
Singaporean, 40, spends up to $ 300 a month on Asian streetwear. "Supporting local brands is crucial to me because if we don't wear them, how can we expect the world to follow our lives?"
A few Japanese brands have long been present on the world streetwear scene, but companies from other Asian countries have experienced strong growth, ranging from China to South Korea, via Singapore and even Indonesia.
Yeti Out, based in Hong Kong and Shanghai, says global sales of its clothing have doubled in the 12-month period ending in March this year. Annual sales of the Jakarta-based Paradise Youth Club are said to have increased by the same amount.
Jeremy Tan is the director of Culture Cartel, an annual street culture convention held in Singapore. He says that the popularity of Asian streetwear has increased worldwide as it is more and more sophisticated.
"The world is looking east because of the huge amount of young talent that has emerged in recent years," said Tan. "It reflects the rise of Asia."
He adds that the surge in global popularity of Asian streetwear has also been helped by fashion bloggers and other social media and online players. He says these individuals are increasingly focusing on Asian designers, who had previously been overlooked by established fashion publications.
"Bloggers are transforming lesser-known brands into major market players, giving new generation brands the opportunity to present themselves internationally," said Tan.
Joanna Lowry, strategist at Fitch retail consultancy, said Asian labels also benefit from people's eternal desire to try something new.
"Looking for unique and fresh pieces rather than simple flashy logos of big brands is a major trend in both the luxury and streetwear sectors," she said. "A young man in his twenties in London may not understand the whole context of products from an Asian brand, but he can still buy items based on general aesthetics."
While Western customers may be buying Asian streetwear because they just like a certain color, shape or pattern, the brands themselves take their design philosophy very seriously.
"A brand must be much more than a simple graphic on t-shirts, it must be global and represent a certain mentality." says Arthur Bray, co-founder of Yeti Out.
He explains that the culture of Asian clubs is a recurring theme in Yeti's streetwear clothing. "Late night adventures often inspire our creations, whether it comes from a conversation we have in a dive bar in Bangkok or from the fun things we see at 4 am in Seoul."
Vincentius Aditya, co-founder of Paradise Youth Club, explains that his creations explore human behavior and digital technologies. His 2017 collection "Mind Benders", for example, would reflect the transformation of social media into "a huge echo chamber ... because we only see and hear what we love".
"The main source of inspiration comes from society, from the way people interact, from the way they manage their time and relationships in this digital age."
South Korea's Ader Error has a similar goal for its unisex clothing. "Fashion ... should be used to break down borders," said a spokesperson. "What we want to communicate is to all young people who are looking for new experiences."
While global online orders make up the bulk of sales for Asian streetwear brands, Major Drop, a streetwear store located in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, says that their physical sales in its store now trump those of Western brands. He claims to have sold 22,504 Asian streetwear items in 2018, compared to only 3,765 pieces of Western brands.
Back in Singapore, Marc Aw says he is particularly delighted with the success achieved abroad. "Asian streetwear has always existed, but social media has taken our designers further into the world."
We are also at Yukio very appreciative of the rise of Asian Streetwear in the world of fashion and we are proud to carry this movement for almost 2 years with our online store which mainly includes Streetwear items with Asian influences!