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WHEN THE RUNWAY IS PAVED

WHEN THE RUNWAY IS PAVED

By Ruth La Ferla, New York Times
Nyt_style1_1 SCOURING street-wear shops in downtown Manhattan on Saturday, Dimitri Viglis zeroed in on a hoodie he hoped would put some cool in his wardrobe. Mr. Viglis, a 23-year-old construction worker from Brooklyn, chose a black and purple style with a kinetic computer-graphic pattern by the label Orchard Street, a garment splashy enough, yet insulating enough, for a night on the town.

“Wear this,” he said contentedly, “and I won’t have to put on a heavy jacket while I wait on line at the clubs.”

He paid about $150 for his hoodie but would have parted with twice or even three times the price, he said. “Look at the quality,” he said, turning the cuff inside out to show its meticulous construction and stitching. Better yet, he said, he felt reasonably assured that he would not be seeing it on every Tom, Jamal and Harry.

Times_style2 Mr. Viglis and his cohort, style-conscious young men with an aversion to mall culture and a professed maverick streak, are hot on the scent of the new, the colorful, the inventive and the rare. Their quarry: street-inflected clothing, footwear, caps and jewelry from new little-known labels like Two Black Guys, Phenomenon, 10.Deep and Crooks & Castles. It’s the latest in surrogate bling, less costly than a mink-lined toggle coat or a Jacob the Jeweler diamond pendant, but just as luxurious to their way of thinking.

Their enthusiasm has engendered a growing niche market, one that visibly thrives on distinctive styling and hard-to-replicate details and boasts a fruit fly’s abbreviated lifespan.

Devotees of this new luxury street wear, much of it a quirky and none-too-subtle sendup of gangsta hoodies and the like, can be seen on any weekend queuing up outside Reed Space, Supreme and Union in New York and Los Angeles, C’monwealth in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, and Leaders 1354 in Chicago. These trendsetting stores are street wear’s answer to fashion outposts like Barneys.

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