Titles with the word “guide” in them tend to elicit strong reactions on both ends of the spectrum. Still, Highsnobiety’s giving it a go with its first book due out later this month, called “The Incomplete Highsnobiety Guide to Street Fashion and Culture” as part of a larger deal that includes books in the future.
The coffee-table book, published by Gestalten, aims for a broad look at people and brands important to the space through the Highsnobiety lens. That includes the usual roster of suspects, including Comme des Garçons, Supreme, Stussy and Kaws among others.
“Highsnobiety’s been around 13 years. We’ve really been focused on covering a space that was called streetwear for a long time and is now really referred to as street fashion, but it encompasses more than fashion,” said Highsnobiety North America managing director Jeff Carvalho. “It’s really about a certain way of looking at product. A lot of people want to label it a lifestyle or a culture, but it’s more than that….What the book is not is a history lesson into street fashion and style.”
Timing is everything and the present would seem a particularly appropriate time for a book release on the subject as street fashion continues to be adopted by a more mainstream consumer and mainstream brands looking to remain relevant.
“The timing now [for the book release] is more important than ever, especially if you look at the industry side,” Carvalho said. “Big luxury corporations and groups are trying to understand what this new youth market is looking for and what they’re interested in.”
Highsnobiety sits in a space between the underground and mainstream, giving it a unique coverage lens that extends to the book. It also helps, Carvalho pointed out, that the company’s roots are in Europe, where founder David Fischer is from.
“People ask me often ‘Is [street fashion] a trend,’ and the thing to know about street fashion is that it’s really been here at least as far back as the Fifties and Sixties. It’s a little less about the fashion as it is about a mind-set that individuals who wear these garments have. They’re looking for something else and they’re identifying with brands or good that are maybe not what the traditional mass market has looked to.…What’s interesting today is that it’s bigger than ever.”
The brands may change and the consumer’s definition and perception of what defines a luxury product will continue to evolve, but Carvalho and team don’t see the momentum in street fashion slowing anytime soon.
The book had been in the works for about a year. Carvalho said the subjects of future books from Highsnobiety have not been worked out but could home in on more specific topics, including stickers as cultural indicators or other objects. The book, in some ways, also provides something more permanent in a digital world.
“One of the difficult things in the digital world, [is] you put up a piece of news and within 30 minutes or 24 hours, there’s something else that’s new,” Carvalho said. “Fashion is faster than it’s ever been. Consumption is faster than it’s ever been. Social media shows you that. Being able to put a book together allows us to capture it all. It’s a little more present.”