The Beginner’s Guide to Techwear

If you happen to’ve noticed more than a number of of your style-aware colleagues dressing like they’re extras in some futuristic, sci-fi dystopian thriller these days, you are not alone. Techwear is a bona fide trend, and it looks like it’s here to stay.

Techwear at its essence is strictly what it sounds like: “technology” (generally in the loosest sense of the word) that you could wear within the form of intricately crafted clothing designed by a bunch of people whose rallying cry is rarely sacrificing kind for function. Today, the best techwear pieces—those you’re most likely to see lusted after online—come with enough functional particulars to satisfy even probably the most ardent gear wonk, whether or not he is spelunking his way through a cave or speed-walking to catch the subway.

As a style movement in its own right, techwear has been effervescent up in the tradition for a minute now. There’s just something satisfyingly reassuring about wearing clothing that may withstand way more than it’ll ever must, or so the thinking goes. Call it doomsday prepping for clothing enthusiasts. Call it man’s last desperate grasp for the comforting acquaintedity of the analog world in an increasingly remoted digital reality. I call it a rattling good look, for those who can pull it off.

Luckily for you, there are five big names that tend to dominate the dialog (just a few of ’em you might already be acquainted with), and, as with almost all niche subcultures, knowing which names to drop is half the wrestle to fitting in. Provided you know what’s good, picking up the lingo will be a cinch. How do you do, fellow techwear fans?

Urban techwear defines an offshoot of streetwear in which technical apparel is styled with nods to the dystopian future portrayed in ‘80s and ‘90s media. This is sui generis techwear: matte GORE-TEX jackets, black cargo pants, sling bags, zippers – you name it. Draped in blacks and grays, one dressed in city techwear looks like a cross between Strong Snake and Shadowrun. Add in the manufacturers named like insurgent factions (alk phenix, Stone Island, ACRONYM, Guerilla Group), and it’s easy to see the place urban tech finds each its inspiration and its edge.

The entire styling conventions that make techwear so radically different from the typical hoodies-and-sneakers range of modern casualwear are almost caricatured by the military-inspired, aggressively-lower garments that encompass it. Make no mistake: dressing in city tech will get you weird looks on the subways. But just as critically, the clothes are so goddamn cool.

There’s a reason films like Blade Runner have stayed rooted in common culture: over-the-top, future-going through functionality just looks badass.

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