What's A Roadman? A Brief Background Of The UK's Most Popular Style

What's A Roadman? A Brief Background Of The UK's Most Popular Style

Posted by Ross Dwyer on


A term that you've likely heard before, be it in a song, on the Internet, or just in passing. It's an interesting word, and one that's associated with a very unique British sub-culture and style. 

As British culture and music is becoming more popular than ever in the US (rappers like Drake and A$AP Rocky are heavily influenced by what's going on in London), roadman style is working its way into US culture too.

We're going to go ahead and give you a leg up on the the competition today. You'll learn all about what being a roadman means, and what their unique style is like. Get your tracksuits and trainers ready ... it's bound to be a mad ting bad.

Let's start by breaking down the word itself. What exactly is a roadman? You'll find many a different definition online, but the general consensus is that a roadman is essentially a man about the town (typically anywhere from 18-40), who dresses, acts, and speaks (using slang like "tings", "mad", "man" "wahh guan" and more) in a particular way. A roadman is someone who's in the know about the culture, be it music, fashion, or sporting events ... and who dresses in a very particular way.

And dressing is really what sets a roadman apart (besides the slang). They present a very unique style, unlike you'll find anywhere else. The roadman look is very working-class (although it can be made to appear high-end), and features key pieces like matching tracksuits, technical jackets (like Nike wind runners or lightweight Stone Island shells) running caps, "trainers" (like any Nike Air Max or a Reebok Classic), bum/shoulder bags, and maybe even a scarf on colder days. Roadmen don't mix brands (you won't see them with adidas track pants and Nike Air Max on together), and they don't usually mix colors either. 

Even though it may seem like it came out of nowhere, roadman style is nothing new. It's been around in the UK for years, but has become very popular globally in the last year or so due to the success of grime music, and Skepta (the world's most well-known grime artist) in particular, who's made massive anthems like "Shutdown" and "That's Not Me". With co-signs from Drake (who is "signed" to Skepta's label, Boy Better Know), A$AP Rocky (who featured Skepta on "Put That On My Set), and Kanye West (who enlisted Skepta and his crew to mob out on stage in all black during his performance of All Day at the 2015 Brit Awards), plus a terrific album he released in 2016 (Konichiwa), Skepta helped bring a subculture that's been thriving for years in London into a worldwide spotlight. 

Nowadays, you'll see roadman style anywhere you look, both in the streets and on many a blog. A humble, working-class British subculture has been accepted by the mainstream ... and is influencing street culture in a major way. No matter how you may feel about the style as a whole, you've got to admit that that's a mad ting. 

From grime to football (the European version) to London culture and style, the roadman look is very authentic to the British streets it came from, and that's what makes it so appealing. It's a safe and true way to travel into a subculture that's new and different from anything we have here in the US, and when people can sense something's authentic, they'll rock with it heavy.

Some might say that taking the roadman look if you're not British is gentrifying the subculture, but that's not true. Who can blame someone for looking at something new and cool and deciding they want to be a part of it? As long as you're genuinely interested and you do your due diligence in learning about the culture and how it came about (which we're aiming to help you do with this article), you're free to experiment to your heart's content. So get yourself a crispy tracksuit and a pair of Air Max for this summer ... we think you'll find it's a mad ting. 


What do you think of the roadman style/culture? Do you have any roadman pieces in your wardrobe? Hit us up and let us know on Twitter, check our Facebook page for updates, and, as always, be sure to follow us on Instagram for all the fire photos you can handle.