Fashion is a global language. Some of the most hyped designers right now are from the former Soviet Union, Georgia (the country) has become a low-key hotspot for industry insiders, brands from Korea are killing it and every month our Under the Radar feature spotlights upcoming labels from across the world.
21st-century kids are harnessing the internet and social media's power to scour the world for newness, while designers and brands use it to take their visions global. It’s created a globalized melting pot of culture, and it’s one of the most exciting things about streetwear in 2017.
With that in mind, we’re venturing further afield to get a little closer to the scenes happening over the globe. Next up in our roaming reporting series is the owner and creative director of the Carnival Group, Anupong Kuttikul. First starting out in 2010 as a Converse-focussed sneaker store, Carnival then stepped up and set up its second brick 'n' mortar the following year in east Bangkok. After another two years of continued growth, becoming an authorized dealer to big streetwear players, and introducing Thailand to some of the biggest brands in the game, Kuttikul's company, Carnival Group, set up UPPERGROUND by Carnival—a place dedicated to multiple brands in the CentralWorld shopping plaza in the Thai capital.
We hit up Kuttikul to find out what’s happening in the kingdom, and specifically about Bangkok's unique sneaker and streetwear scene at the moment, and how its music culture, social media and reselling is influencing the country's current trends.
What’s your opinion on the current state of streetwear? Is it too dominated by the rules and ways of social media?
The scene has changed a lot since its inception. Streetwear is not a subculture anymore. It’s massively mainstream now. We could say it is a global movement. Overhyped drops are being released every single week with an increasing number of people lining up on release days.
Social media makes fashion more accessible than before. Online stores and many well-known streetwear brands have stockists here which helps rapidly establish various styles and trends. Compared to the last five years however trends have a much shorter life cycle now, and this results in certain heavily trend orientated brands having a shorter product life cycle. Social media can cause chaos but also help grow your business, it all depends on how you apply it to your business.
Consumers are now more focused on the outfits especially with easily recognizable branded pieces being the go to. Everyone has developed their own social media channels to expose their styles daily but trying to please everyone is a bad idea. Stay true to yourself, create your own lane and yourself will be found.
What is the streetwear and sneaker scene in Bangkok like right now? Does it differ from the rest of the world?
I believe the sneaker scene here is very diverse, and mostly revolves around different ways of dress. We now see more interesting models and designs with more color ways, and we don't have to acquire them abroad anymore. From bulky retro trainers to all time classic sneakers like Vans Old Skool and adidas Stan Smith.
The scene in Thailand is quite different from the rest of the world. However, we do get 90% of the releases through our store and most of them are sold out within the first morning. A lot of new faces have come and gone with only a few establishing themselves and growing their reputation in the scene here. As sneakers are becoming more mainstream, it has created a massive growth of sneaker-heads and collectors. Going back five or ten years ago, it was quite hard to find people who would spend more than 3000$ on a pair of sneakers, but now things are different. I have seen Nike Mags, NMD Friend and Familys and many other expensive sneakers flooding the reseller market here.
Thailand has one of the fastest-growing middle classes in the world, so with more people having a greater disposable income, the market is growing at a tremendous rate. We also have a couple of sneaker events every year and it seem like the trend is growing rapidly. Some brands report that sneaker sale growth in Thailand is one of the top countries in the world in the past 18-36 months.
How do people dress? What brands are popular?
Mixing streetwear with luxury brands. Rave metallic themed outfits. Long nylon belts. Drop shoulder tees. Distressed jeans. Nylon sports jerseys. Athletic Uniforms. Bombers and souvenir Jackets. Big and bold printed tee. And, yes, dad hat and dad shoes.
For international brands, the hype is the same as the rest of the world: Supreme, Off-White, Vetements. However, Thai people pay lots of attention to local streetbrands too, so people mix international brands with local brands giving the scene a very local feel.
What are Thai and Bangkok’s kids most influenced by when it comes to fashion?
They are/were influenced by global and local celebrities and artists mostly. The strongest global presence for example would be Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Rihanna, Kendal and Kylie Jenner.
Local influencers also play vital roles as trendsetters because of the way they dressed and express themselves. They are more powerful leaders in the scene than the global influencers in terms of the local market. However, now we are seeing a new wave of free thinking creatives who aren't influenced by social media and are using their creativity to develop their own style and are in turn becoming influencers themselves. There is also a heavy Japanese influence with people looking to the likes of Fujiwara, Nigo, Sk8thing, etc.
Are there any local brands and designers our readers should know about?
Takara Wong , SSAP, Indigoskin and of course our in-house brand CARNIVAL.
Is sneaker or streetwear reselling big?
Yes, it is very big since it is so easy to become a reseller. People see lots of opportunities to make money and they just want to try it. Resellers are big because people cannot access certain brands on specific release dates and some remote customers have to rely on them for their purchases. In Thailand, brands such as Nike and adidas are trying to eliminate the resell chain by providing some releases only directly through their online store. It is a great idea for the general consumer who misses out on sneakers that someone has purchased just to resell. However, we need also to accept that resales provide a service and they only exist because there is a demand for what they provide.
Resellers in Thailand are mostly active in Facebook groups, on Instagram, ebay, etc. rather than via physical stores which I have seen in other countries. There are also a lot of Thai people traveling to Tokyo every few weeks for drops from Supreme, Bape, Wraps, Neighborhood, etc. which eventually comes back to Thailand and into the resell market. Overall I would say the market is inline with global resell supply and demand with prices that are fairly similar to that of the United States or the United Kingdom resale stores.
Is there a skate scene? If so, what are some places where they hang out?
The scene is very prevalent and led by Preduce Skateboard. We have witnessed more and more skaters attend Thailand’s Go Skateboarding Day each year. Their team and products always amaze us. The skate hangout spots are mostly under Rama VIII Bridge, Pink Park and Benjasiri Park.
What’s the music scene like? What genres are big and what are the best parties to go to?
There are various popular genres in Bangkok: Electronic, Techno, Trance, EDM, House, Trap, Rock and Pop. I don’t party that much but I can highly recommend Beams, Demo’s Dirty Bar, Tha Beat Lounge and Onyx.
Finally, what kind of brands do you guys stock?
In terms of brands, we've got Undercover, White Mountaineering, Ambush, MISBHV, Wacko Maria, Magic Stick Bedwin & the Heartbreakers, Brain Dead, Marcelo Burlon, Rhude Design, Unravel, Kappa Kontrol, Les Benjamins, Ne Sense, Ih Nom Uh Nit, Maharishi, Mr. Completely, Poliquant, Wood Wood, FDMTL Denim by Vanquish x Fragment, FUCT SSD, Whiz Limited and LC23.
For footwear, we're involved in the relaunch of Hi-Tec, we stock Yeezys, and we're a Vans Vault and Converse First String retailer. We also stock Airwalk, Filling Pieces, Casbia, Losers and Reebok, and our accessories range includes drops from Cote Ciel, Retaw, Jason Markk and Pintrill.
If you're looking to shop sneakers and streetwear in Bangkok, be sure to hit up one of the Carnival stores and visit the website via the link below.