Fashion has long been instilled in human history and is often what defines eras, centuries, and generations. Dating back to the Victorian Age of ball gowns and shaped corsets to modern-day distressed denim and high tops, fashion is an outward expression of individualism.
Runway fashion has grown exponentially over the course of the century, one of the most prominent elements being streetwear. Definitively, streetwear roots itself in the countercultures of the ‘80s and 90’s. A phenomenon that has taken the world by storm, casual is the new low-rise jean. A strict antidote to the elegance that fashion once constituted, streetwear is tied to both comfort and self-expression. Embracing graffiti and skate style, society would welcome this laid-back and “cool” manner of clothing.
So, the delineation between streetwear and other forms of fashion? Streetwear is a community. It originated in the depths of New York as a label for hip-hop; the hip-hop community was often looked down upon by traditional fashion as their quota wasn’t the standard of window-shopping. As hip-hop quickly gained traction in some of the largest cities of the world, so did streetwear.
Streetwear, driven at large by black culture, was a reset in the fashion industry. It questioned the authority of contemporary art and debunked the hierarchy of traditional luxury fashion. While some past trends have made their fair share of appearances in the present such as corsets, high-necklines, and the concept of ‘layering’, streetwear created a completely new era.
The idea of streetwear was made accessible for anyone to wear in its unconventional ways with its sneakers, hoodies, graphic tees: loose-fitting and oversized everything. Another delineation? The consumer has just as much say. The makers of streetwear take to the streets for inspiration and direction. The general audience is now “in the loop,” so streetwear unlocks the key to both inclusivity and exclusivity.
Once brands tapped into this mindset, they were on their way to establishing yet another branch on the tree of streetwear. Large companies such as Nike, Off-White, Adidas, and Supreme have stood behind streetwear as a value rather than a phase which makes for consistency and loyalty.
Streetwear would take a sharp turn when collaborations between high-end fashion began to make its way in. One of the most memorable collaborations dropped in 2017 as Supreme and Louis Vuitton teamed up; a new awareness of fashion hit the markets. This crossover opened the door for endless possibilities and to think that what began as a niche lifestyle – the simple printing of logos on T-shirts or sealing an outfit with a statement pair of shoes – is one of the top looks of the fashion industry, adopted by all genders and stretching from high-end to small business brands.