Techwear & Apparel [Style Guide 2020]

The influence of techwear continues to grow within the avant-garde fashion industry & over the last couple of years, this term evolved into urban techwear, a whole new breed of fashionable gear. Skip to part 4 & 5 if you just want the 2020 style guide. 

So what is techwear? In simplest terms, techwear is a highly functional futuristic style of fashion that serves a useful purpose with a strong focus on design, minimalism, and utility whilst borrowing inspiration from the ninja, hacker & military genre. 

Techwear & Apparel [Style Guide 2019] - NinjaDark

Who Invented Techwear?

Techwear has deep roots in techno-orientalism, a surreal phenomenon in which East Asians imagined hyper-technological concepts. Techno-orientalism is credited with being one of the origins of speculative fiction and cyberpunk, which for the most part, have played a significant role in the development of techwear as we know it today.

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Errolson Hugh, one of the key names behind techwear’s rise through mainstream labels like Acronym, Arc’teryx Veilance, and NikeLab ACG, described it as a futuristic get-up based on the idea that the things we carry around everyday, like our mobile devices and umbrellas, augment us in ways that didn't seem possible just a few decades ago. So why not create apparels that reflect that? One of the earliest labels to explicitly feature“techwear” is Acronym, a full time project of Hugh’s.

Why is the Trend Rising?

Urban techwear is already a popular gear choice among professionals such as bike messengers, construction workers, and security forces. This is in spite of the fact that most of these professionals are, admittedly, unaware of the movement they’re promoting, since they mainly use the techwear to protect themselves or be more efficient in the workplace.

Bellow is a graph showing techwear's trend over a 5 year period. So if you're just getting started you won't have to worry about it going out of style anytime soon. The top 5 states are Washington, California, new york, Minnesota, and Colorado. California actually took us off-guard. New York not so much. Grittier cities fit well with this style of fashion. 

Techwear Google Trends - NinjaDark

Another reason for the growing popularity of techwear is that lots of people, especially cosplayers and anime aficionados also enjoy the style solely for its “badass” aesthetic appeal. A complete techwear apparel can enable them to seamlessly imitate their favorite anime and sci-fi heroes so it is naturally an enticing prospect for them.

Key Technical Benefits of Techwear

The primary features or urban techwear clothing and gear are tactical durabilities, monochromatism, slim lines, and futurism. Its main appeal is that it can simplify everyday life, whether it is staying dry under the rain or being able to easily store more stuff on you without having to fill use a bag.

Key Technical Benefits of Techwear - Ninja Dark

Here’s some of the major features of urban techwear items:

Water Resistance

Nobody likes getting caught in the rain and the water repellency of techwear clothing delivers a a comfortable and practical solution to this problem. This nifty concept goes as far back as 1969, when Gore-Tex was created. The brand’s co-inventors had discovered how to stretch Teflon into a thin, porous membrane that was waterproof while allowing water vapor to pass through. Over the years, water resistant clothing designs have evolved to what is on display today.

Enhanced Properties

Depending on the industry or specific need, there are several synthetic fabrics that provide some form of enhancement to a piece of clothing. These include increased elasticity, scratch resistance, odor resistance, and almost brilliant reflectiveness.

Comfortable Range of Motion

Urban techwear challenges the tradition of cutting clothing to standard patterns by designing patterns to seamlessly move with the human body. This has resulted in form-fitting apparels with articulated joints, usually through darting at the knee or inner elbow to allow the wearer to move freely without fraying the fabric or pulling it at key points.


This means the techwear garment is capable of letting sweat and heat escape so the wearer doesn't feel sticky and clammy underneath. It is no longer enough to keep wearers dry on the outside, but should also allow them to be comfortable while wearing it.

Storage Capacity

Nowadays, there’s just so much to carry in preparation for the average day’s activities. From your mobile devices and power banks to headphones, car keys, wallets, and even water bottles; having garments that allow you to carry more stuff has become somewhat a necessity. Urban techwear designs have bridged that gap thanks to their zippered pockets, multi-compartment bags, and removable modular attachments, letting you carry more and worry less.

Style & Wardrobe Essentials

Urban techwear takes its inspirations from a variety of other fashion styles, including Cyber Punk, Health Goth, Steampunk, Video Game Character or VGC style, and Urban Minimalism. As such, it offers a top-to-bottom appeal that is both aesthetic and functional. Key categories include:

Pants -- The clothing in this segment emphasize on a mix of water repellency, breathability, stretch, and deep or extra pockets. When it comes to pants these two products match just about any techwear outfit you are planning to put together. The straps are a very popular feature among this style of fashion. They also have many zippers & pockets to really enhance the street look. Clothing collection include

Techwear Pants Collage - NinjaDark

    Hardshell and Softshell Jackets -- Hardshells are jackets designed to provide solid weather protection and are fully breathable, waterproof, and windproof.  The versatile but sturdy outer layer that they provide makes them the go-to jackets for heavy downpours and snowy conditions. Softshells, on the other hand, sacrifice this level of weather protection for more comfort, breathability, and movement. That doesn't mean they can't stand up to light snowfall and drizzles. Clothing collection includes:

    Techwear Jackets Collage - NinjaDark

      Socks -- Urban techwear socks feature durable materials with renegade patterns. These socks are also available in a wide array of colors.

      Techwear Socks Collage - NinjaDark

      Shoes -- Several brands have been at the forefront of innovative designs, experimenting with everything from knit materials to sock liners and water-resistant materials, all to deliver a line of tech footwear that is worthy of the name.

      T-Shirts and Hoodies -- These typically serve the function of keeping the wearer warm and comfy underneath a shell. They come in a variety of designs - down vests, hoodies, fleeces, and even insulating shirts.

      Techwear Shirts Collage - NinjaDark


      Base Layer -- This category is all about moisture wicking, intricately designed to feel just right against your skin and keep you dry. Nike Dri Fit and adidas Climacool are great examples of this design.

      Accessories -- These are in the form of bags with different compartments for smartphones, laptops and iPads, as well as belts, vest straps, and tactical body armor.

      Tactical Vest - NinjaDark

      How to Incorporate The Style

      Work constraints and the worry of standing out for the wrong reasons means that not everyone can pull off the full techwear style. But if you’d like to give it a try, a good place to start is by incorporating some of the distinct color palettes and functional advantages of techwear and building the rest of your ensemble around them. For instance, a pair of tech-style shoes, like the Urban Runner V - Techwear Shoes, can be the centerpiece of your look while a pair of black cargo joggers and a gray tee completes the tech appearance.

      Color Palettes 

      Let's face it, not everyone is color coordinated so here are the most common techwear color palettes you can try bellow. I also included the hex codes for each option so you don't have to type them in manually. Once you have an idea of what colors to go with it will be a lot easier to put together your wardrobe. 

      Black is a given. Camo greens are another option followed by beige and white in some instances. 

      Option A:

      Techwear Color Palette Option A - NinjaDark
      Black: #000000
      Green 1: #393f2a
      Green 2: #77775e
      Beige: #f2d8c4
      White: #ffffff

      Grey is another popular color in techwear. You can match grey with just about anything and looks great in urban environments. 

      Option B

      Techwear Color Palette Option B - NinjaDark
      Grey 1: #4c484a
      Grey 2: 595457
      Grey 3: #666063
      Grey4: #726d6f
      Grey5: #7f797c

      You can also go with a browner yellowish style. It's not as popular as the black/green combo but definitely wearable. 

      Option C

      Techwear Color Palette Option C - NinjaDark
      Green-Brown: #584d3d
      Green-Brown2: #9f956c
      Brown-Yellow: #cbbf7a
      Gold-Yellow: #f4e87c
      Green-Yellow: 8bf38b

      Reds and oranges are other options. These colors can be worn during the summer months. If your bike a commuter you may also benefit from brighter colors versus someone wearing all black. 

      Option D

      Techwear Color Palette Option D - NinjaDark
      Red1: #bf3100
      Red2: #fd2f08
      Red3: #ff4e00
      Orange: #e67f0d
      Gold-Yellow-2: #ffae03

      Notable Techwear Brands

      Listed below are some of the most popular brands repping the Techwear trend today. If your not able to find what you're looking for on NinjaDark these are some alternatives. Btw the following links are not sponsored. 

      Acronym -- Arguably the biggest name in the techwear spectrum, they specialize in high-end techwear and recently partnered with Nike for the Air Presto Mid Utility X Acronym. The launch of this shoe was extremely successful and cannot be found in stores, only through reselling channels like eBay & stock X.

      Acronym Webpage - NinjaDark
        I am Nocturnal -- This brand features a carefully curated set of fashionable pieces for the sophisticated and adventurous lovers of dark fashion. Their style revolves around unique, dark, and expressive apparels and accessories that is both easily accessible and affordable to admirers and wearers alike.
        I Am Nocturnal Webpage - NinjaDark

        Cloudburst  -- Boasting a distinctive design made of qualitative elements that are technological, functional, dogmatic, and discreet is what Cloudburst is all about. Choose from a variety of jackets, vests, bags, shirts, and even belts.

        Cloudburst Webpage - NinjaDark

        0608wear -- With a myriad of urban techwear garments and gears available, 0608wear caters to the fashion-conscious without sacrificing comfort and function in its wears.
        0609wear Webpage - NinjaDark

        Krakatau Wear -- This Russian brand delivers an impressive lineup of jackets and pants, all designed to keep you warm on the inside in spite of the cold. They also offer distinct apparels for women.

        Krakatao Wear Webpage - NinjaDark
        4Dimension -- Choose from a wide variety of pants, hats, and jackets, all of which are equipped with the stylish essentials of urban techwear. Products are shipped to anywhere in the world so people can get their hands on these apparels whenever.

        4Dimension Webpage - NinjaDark
        ISAORA -- This advanced sportswear brand was founded in early 2008 in New York City on the premise that premium performance and progressive style need not be mutually exclusive. Their commitment to forward-thinking designs, progressive tailoring and a mix of athletic lifestyle influences conceived their impressive line-up of performance wears that seamlessly redraw the line between style and function.

        Isora Webpage - NinjaDark

        Veilance -- Veilance was founded by Arc’teryx Equipment with a focus on incorporating technical design as an expression of purpose. Minimalist values and a keen unwavering attention to detail has led Veilance to offer a diverse array of climate controlling solutions in a system of modular layers. Their lightweight materials, combined with advanced constructions, means you can choose from a variety of clothing options that defy the concepts of weight and limitation.

        Veilance Webpage - NinjaDark

        Boneville -- Launched by legendary designer, Massimo Osti in 1981, this menswear brand was designed to push boundaries both aesthetically and technically. Boneville’s selection of outerwear, shirts, pants, and shorts continue to set a benchmark in the men’s fashion arena, a grand testament to Osti’s timeless, innovative work.

        BoneVille Webpage - NinjaDark

        Guerrilla Group --
        Founded as a multi-disciplinary creative unit in 2013, this brand seeks to counteract trending conformity in the fashion sphere by echoing between sci-fi and functionality as a framework for its apparels and accessories. Their approach is on reworking military garments into utilitarian everyday wear, making sure it easily adapts with imminent conditions.

        Gorilla Group Webpage - NinjaDark

        Are there other names for this style of fashion?

        Yes, techwear is often times referred to as cyberpunk fashion, steampunk or streetwear. You can use these terms interchangeably. There are some slight differences with techwear though as its more focused on darker colors with a more grungier style.

        Does techwear wardrobe change during the summer?

        There are some cosmetic changes that occur during the summer such as more uses of shorts and the absence of most techwear jackets. Black is also a color that attracts a lot of heat so you may see streetwear enthusiasts adopting more lighter colors such as greens, beiges, browns & yellows.

        Are there techwear wardrobes for women?

        You won't really see lots of women flaunting the techwear style but there are some that do. The reason being is that It's harder for women to find this type of clothing & it also isn’t perceived as being very ladylike. While men can wear this style no problem.  Women who are into hip-hop may have more of an affinity to this style of fashion.

        How should the garments be washed?

        Urban techwear garments can usually be washed at home or by a commercial laundry service provider without affecting its quality. In most cases, you’ll find printed laundering instructions on the size label of each garment, so you can easily get them cleaned the proper way.  

        Clothing and functionality have always been a dynamic duo, providing a sense of fashion on one hand and designed with an emphasis on performance and resistance to the elements, on the other. However, techwear is much more than just thick jackets, perforated mesh tees, and deep-pocketed pants, it is a culture dedicated to fashion enthusiasts who look at their clothing as a functional interest and even a passion.

        Techwear & Apparel [Style Guide 2019] Pinterest Pin - NinjaDark


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