Is The Roadman Look A Gentrification To The NYC Fashion Scene?

The New York streets was the place to look when sourcing streetwear inspiration, but now New Yorkers themselves are looking elsewhere, embracing looks that originate from the London ‘roadman’. Is this an example of gentrification in fashion?


You probably read ‘gentrification’ and had no idea what the word meant. Explained easily, gentrification is the word that is used when something is picked-up from somewhere and placed in an unexpected area or out of context. Of course this then becomes the word on the street.

The leading trend forecaster, WSGN, who cover fashion and lifestyle trends have released a blog post about how “American men are adopting the styles and slang of London’s Subcultures”.

Italian outerwear label ‘Stone Island’ is a brand highly associated with London’s casual football culture, and has now found its way into the wardrobes of New York’s youth. As well as curve brimmed dad hats, and other sporty staples.

Travis Scott- Wearing Stone Island (Via Instagram)
Travis Scott- Wearing Stone Island (Via Instagram)

A lot of these styles are looks that are seen on ‘roadmen’ in the UK- which according to the urban dictionary (reliable source: we know) is the new 21st century slang word for a person who knows the in’s and outs of their area. Artists like Skepta and Drake are sporting the ‘roadman’ look. Not only are fashion trends entering the US market, but so are the slang words like ‘mate’ and ‘proper’, influencing a shift New Yorkers lifestyles and slang.

Girls pictured in Shutdown video wearing Roadman inspired outfits.
Girls pictured in Shutdown video wearing roadmap inspired outfits.

Steering away from fashion, another example of gentrification happened when industrial style cafés began opening their doors in South Bronx, locals thought this was the start of the gentrification of a slowly deteriorating and poverty stricken area. Their theory seems right as a developer did try to change the name of South Bronx to the ‘Piano District’.

"South Bronx Gets High-End Coffee; Is Gentrification Next?" Source: NY Times
“South Bronx Gets High-End Coffee; Is Gentrification Next?” Source: NY Times

FIB’s point being; those who follow street-wear trends often look to New York for their rough around the edges inspiration, but new Yorkers are now highly influenced by London. Just as gentrification is one that is driven by social movements, so are the trends within the fashion industry. Is the ‘roadman’ look an example of gentrification that will take over the New York street scene or is it just a passing trend?