An Emerging Culture in the UAE
By Layla Atallah on 08 Apr,2021
The UAE is well-known for its cultural diversity with almost 88% of the population being expats from all over the world. As a direct result of this cultural boom, there isn’t one discrete or set culture in the fashion. While high fashion is notoriously associated with Dubai style, streetwear certainly has not been affiliated with the culture in the UAE.
Streetwear, a relatively young clothing trend, dug its hooks into trend acolytes in the 80s and 90s. Casual clothing style associated with the urban and skating scene: streetwear was a new concept which grew into a crazed culture highly in vogue now. New York is most commonly attributed with dawning the era of streetwear. However, one specific creator is most often accredited with birthing streetwear and that creator is the now well-acclaimed Shawn Stussy. Founded in 1984, ‘Stussy’ is known for its popular trademark signature and its streetwear brand. Its first store opened in New York inspiring Soho retailers to join the creation of upcoming streetwear clothing. Soho is now known to be a hotspot for streetwear brands and the culture has become most popular among teenagers. Millennials and Gen Zers are said to be gravitating towards streetwear brands today. This fashion turnover has brought together a new fashion culture in new generations who grew up with the birth of streetwear. Streets in Soho are now known to be scoured with teenagers who are completely immersed in the culture. People religiously follow fashion brands for their next drops and will patiently wait for hours in long lines for limited edition releases. Streetwear is sneakers, graphic tees, caps, and more comfortable pieces that emanate the casual and laid-back style streetwear is known for. Along with streetwear, the sneaker culture emerged in the 80s. Sneakers have become so popular and in high demand, a new term for those who collect and trade them was coined: ‘sneakerheads’. Similarly, streetwear zealots have their own name: ‘hypebeasts’.
Hypebeasts and sneakerheads have begun to take over the fashion industry in the UAE. Streetwear is up and coming everywhere around the world, but specifically Dubai is still discovering its culture and its fashion style. Dubai, being a young city at a fresh 50 years of age, there is no set historical fashion culture for the people to follow. One part of it is the lack of historical fashion culture, but the other is the extremely diverse population of people from all over the world. As a result, fashion from many different countries has attempted to infiltrate the ambiguous fashion industry in Dubai. It’s the new emerging enterprises and popular brands that are starting to grow in Dubai that kick-started the streetwear culture in the UAE. The individuals that are exploring fashion and new styles will set the tone for streetwear in this region. Nowadays, style in the UAE is personal and and focuses on expressing their individual selves.
One very popular example of streetwear emerging in Dubai culture is Sole DXB. Introduced in 2011, a time where streetwear was yet to be established, Sole did not take off until more recent years where more and more of the younger scene has become interested. Music and fashion from hip-hop culture has become a large part of the lifestyle for teenagers in Dubai. Sole DXB brought artists like YBN Cordae, upcoming popular icons in hip hop to increase the turnout and it as expected, many teens came to watch. Not only has the hip hop scene become a more prominent part of the culture, but the hype for sneakers and streetwear comes from athleisure as well. To this end, Sole DXB hosted a UNITE campaign where Ray Allen joined the Jordan brand in Sole to share his experience playing basketball. The connection between athletes and streetwear comes partly from the launch of the ‘Air Jordan’, a shoe designed for Michael Jordan who is arguably the most well-known basketball player in the NBA. Seeing as his notoriety is what imploded the popularity of the sneakers, athletes are generally associated with streetwear.
Many concepts are emerging in the region other than Sole, such as us at OFOUR. The culture will continue to grow with the growing demand for worldwide popular brands like Nike, Adidas, and other clothing brands that have moved to the middle east region.