Streetwear is as dynamic, changeable and exciting as its definition. Namely, it’s hard to pin down what ‘streetwear’ actually is, thanks to its versatility in style, meaning and artistic merit. The evolution of streetwear is as a fashion movement primarily for the youth, who roam the streets expressing their interests, cultural identity and common scenarios that take place in their urban catwalks. Behind the clothes, streetwear not only pinpoints their creativity and artistic merit, but also of social status and group camaraderie. With huge letters emblazoned on trousers and jackets, the younger generations visually shout out their views without having to open their mouths. For the youth, streetwear can be the most effective form of self-expression.
It is said that Shawn Stussy invented streetwear by expressing himself through his clothes. It combined fashion with art, self-expression and communication, and soon influenced hip hop fashion. However, the two should not be confused. Fashion was used as a from of art, expression, and communication. Without mainstream media, this underground movement marketed itself through the droves of individuals with their street clothes. Hip-Hop encouraged all to self expression and that is what streetwear has become… a statement.
From Shawn Stussy to the streets of New York and L.A, modern urban streetwear grew from sub-cultures in America’s metropolises. In its early days, streetwear brands took inspiration from punk, which then later branched out into hip hop cultures.
In the early 80s, the hip hop fashion industries began to merge with sportswear – increasing the popularity of companies such as Kangol, Adidas, Nike, and Le Coq Sportif.
All though the surf, skate, and hip-hop community all had their roots in streetwear. Japan emerged on the scene in the 1980′s as well. The Japanese youth wanted everthing American, however, by the early 1990′s they were helping pioneer the way to what Streetwear has become. Brands like BAPE and Real Mad Hectic became trendsetters by coming out with limited edition apparel, with background stories, and very high pricepoints. These factors led to obsessive followings, where many claim Asia/Japan get all the great sneakers and apparel.
These three movements have continued to progress into what streetwear is today but streetwear finds its roots in these movements. Movements that have been led by a non-mainstream subculture of self expression and individuality. Huge numbers of people find brands that are not marketed heavily, creating the streetwear phenomenon that we live in today.
Overall, the evolution of streetwear has been positive for retailers and nations’ economies. Countries such as Japan, have had business booms thanks to the style, and have trademark looks which are recognizable worldwide. The tastes of the youth are a force to be reckoned with on the catwalk – both in high fashion shows, and the urban streets of metropolitans. Huge numbers of people find brands that are not even marketed heavily, creating the streetwear phenomenon that we live in today. Streetwear enthusiasts still resist going mainstream, as consumers refuse to purchase from mainstream stores, and brand leaders try to maintain the exclusivity and D.I.Y. attitude of genuine streetwear.
What are you wearing today?