Last year, I couldn’t be seen anywhere near a skateboard, and I would rather cry than wear sneakers in daylight. In January, I bought my first pair of Nike Blazers, which are the modern versions of 1973 basketball shoes. Now I’m a changed woman; I wear silver gum wrappers as grills and Y2K crops. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry. I got you.

After extensive research and field practice over the last couple of months, I can say I’m pretty much an expert in streetwear. So let’s talk about street fashion and the proper terminology. 

First, we should discuss brands. There are so many streetwear companies out there it’s easy to get lost in the sauce — clueless of what is going on. To stay safe, I would advise sticking with well-known brands such as Nike, Supreme, Off-White, BAPE, Stüssy and Yeezy. If you want to stray a little from the mainstream, I personally recommend SKOOT, Brain Dead and Billionaire Boys Club. Streetwear is usually pretty expensive, so don’t get too discouraged after you skim through a couple websites and see T-shirts priced at hundreds of dollars. Resale shops such as Depop or even eBay are where it’s at for cheap, vintage street finds. 

Before we really delve into streetwear lingo, let’s get Y2K out of the way. Y2K or Year 2000 refers to any clothing you’d wear back at the beginning of the 2000s. If you’re a TikTok “Y2Ker”, usually you carry miniature bags and wear narrow sunglasses and crop tops from scraps of fabric sewn together. If you’re a more serious trend follower, you’d want to channel Britney Spears and buy low-rise jeans or Juicy Couture sweats. 

Let’s go through a streetwear selling and trading scenario to better understand what the street fashion culture is all about. 

Let’s say you finally made it into a streetwear store or you’re chatting with a seller online. You’re going to want to seem like a professional, so you’ll want to sound cool. If they say an item is deadstock, it’s alive to you. Deadstock means the item is being resold and it’s never been worn. The seller might be trying to negotiate, and they’ll likely ask to trade for a grail. A grail is a rare item, and they’ll trade their youngest Air Force 1-sporting son for it. Make sure the son at least knows how to change a tire before completing the deal. 

Say everything is going well and you’re about to get a new son when the seller asks if your item is a fufu item. You panic and say yes. The man will then probably block you; streetwear people are dramatic. A fufu is a fake or a really bad knock-off. That’s poison in streetwear. 

If you dress for comfort over style, make sure to ask a seller if they have any cozy boy clothes. While this sounds silly, it’s actually taken very seriously in streetwear. Cozy boyclothing is comfortable but also fashionable. 

So now pretend you wanted a pair of the Tom Sachs X NikeCraft Mars Yard 2.0 Sneaker — a grail of all grails — and the seller decides to keep it for his own collection and won’t give it to you. You would take these grievances to the salt thread, or a thread on social media where you tell all your street friends how sad you are that you couldn’t cop (get) the drip (the style). Don’t worry though, because one of your buddies is a backdoor — a guy who works at a streetwear company and can put the item aside for you. He said he’ll trade a pair of dunks for it. Dunks is shorthand for the Nike Dunks shoe, which looks like a cushier Air Force 1. He is definitely the GOAT, or the greatest of all time. 

Make sure to show up to pick up your sneaks (sneakers) with a grill (flashy tooth guard) and a crop (crop top). 

Congratulations! You successfully completed a streetwear buying and trading transaction. Hopefully this gave you insight into the complex world of street fashion and how to speak some of the language. You’ll be dripping with grails before you know it.