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The Influence of Street Art and Graffiti on the Apparel and Retail Industry


When you’re standing in the blowing chill of an arctic blast, waiting for the subway train to finally arrive, clutching at the collar of your coat, you pray that tomorrow will be summer.

You know that’s not living in reality, but just to get through the next seven minutes, until the train arrives, you will gladly leave the real world.

You look up to a vision of waving palm trees, a blue rolling ocean, furry coconuts and beautiful Hawaiians doing the hula spread across your line of vision, ten feet high. Has the icy cold made you hallucinate?  No, you are experiencing street art.  A graffiti artist who probably was also sick of the cold and decided to create a feeling of warmth and sunshine with his spray cans was here. The sparking of light on the ocean, the two surfers riding the waves in the distance, for a few moments you are transported to Hawaii. You absentmindedly reach into your bag, feeling around for your suntan lotion.  With a rush of wind and a roar of steel, your train pulls up.

That brief encounter with train station street art enchanted and captivated your senses.  Just for a moment, you were someplace else, taken outside of your reality. And that’s what really great street art does. The best can fascinate, delight and mesmerize the viewer.  What previously was considered vandalism is now celebrated in many forums as fine art.

This trend has spread into the apparel and retail markets. Seen on all products and within all categories, graffiti related merchandise provides a sense of bold, modern, artistic design with a hint of forbidden undertakings. This sense of the prohibited is why we find much of the graffiti art merchandise in the junior categories. Rebellion is the norm at that age. What mother wouldn’t rather buy a t-shirt with a wild graffiti pattern than have her child spray his or her own design on the side of the house?

Here are a number of stand-out street art images, found around the world and merchandise that has been influenced by this modern art form.  Some graffiti is definitely offensive to many people, but we also find a mixture of exuberance, important cultural messages and absolutely gorgeous street art that is unquestionably spectacular.

Presented are a few different categories with some daring and bold merchandise options.

1. Fabulous graffiti print straight pants by Cédric Charlier, the up and coming Belgian designer. Here we have the high end of the street art trend. Charlier offers tops and skirts in this vivid, audacious print and they’re terrific.

2. Painted leather graffiti cuff by Jessica Galindo. Titled the Alphabetum Freeform Cuff. Where funky meets fun.

3. Perforated mesh yoke graffiti print dress by Just Cavalli. For when you don’t want to blend into the background.


4. Swimwear is a perfect vehicle for trendy graffiti prints. Here’s a super design by Arena. Jammer youth competition swimwear. You won’t even have to get into the pool to win the gold.

5. An unconventional silhouette seems to work well with a graffiti print. Both speak of rebellion. This Bodycon dress has one cut out sleeve and a knock-out print. From the U.K.

6. Graffiti sneakers. In some groups, your sneakers define you as a member of the club.  These certainly go to the head of the class.

7. Ecko stands out as one of the top urban and street wear apparel manufacturers. The bold graffiti graphics on this hoodie are brash and brilliant.

8. Can’t talk about the graffiti trend without mentioning jeans. Comic book graffiti designs adorn the back pockets of these denim jeans, also by Ecko.

We end with a few images of street art by superstar graffiti artist Banksy, from Bristol, in the U.K. Want proof that this art form has gone from crime to cash? When Banksy stenciled and painted these walls his work was considered vandalism, now many of the same walls have been torn down and will be sold for millions…to the highest bidder. 



Fashion Trend Analyst contributor: Diane Weisbeck

TAGS: retail, retail trends, fashionista, fashion, fashion trends, fashion stylist,
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