This casual fashion style first became popular in the 1990s. Incorporating comfortable yet stylish clothing such as sneakers, hoodies, and graphic tees, it was inspired by skater style and hip-hop culture.
Interestingly manufacturers have really hit upon intentional product scarcity, to increase desirability and to motivate sales at the point of launch.
The Origins of Streetwear
The emergence of the first streetwear brands in Southern California in early 1980 was primarily fuelled by surfers. Inspired by hip-hop fashion and the street style of Los Angeles, surfers sold screen-printed T-shirts intended to promote their hand-crafted surfboards. Come the 1990s, skateboarding outlets in New York and other major cities were also making their own designs.
It wasn’t until the early 2000s that sneaker culture developed. This natural fit soon began influencing Streetwear fashion. As expected, collaborations between different brands began starting with the pairing of graphic tees with athletic sneakers.
Since young people and social influencers have popularized streetwear, its popularity has grown exponentially. Now, we’re at the point where streetwear is a dominating force within the fashion industry.
Characteristics of Streetwear Style
What are the essential elements of Streetwear? Well, although it encompasses a wide range of fashion designs, Streetwear mainly focuses on the following aspects:
- Comfort – streetwear apparel is made up of casual clothing and athleisure classics such as sweatpants and hoodies. The clothing is comfortable to wear and provides the movement necessary to take part in sports.
- Contemporary art –some of the best-selling streetwear brands and graphic T-shirts incorporate works of contemporary artist. Though we should say that while some of the collaborations are sanctioned, that’s not always the case.
- Scarcity – limited-edition merchandise is the core of culture. Scarcity develops desirability!
- Menswear styles – Streetwear is closely associated with traditional masculine items such as workwear and bomber jackets. However, it is popular among people of all genders.
Due to its offerings of a perfect blend of sporty yet eye-catching styles, Streetwear has become ubiquitous. Therefore, it is relatively easy to build your streetwear collection from scratch. The following are some of the foundation basics of streetwear fashion.
A pair of sneakers
Sneakers play a massive role in streetwear culture; in fact, it would be non-existent without them. From limited-edition sneakers to custom designs, streetwear enthusiasts have no piece of attire more valued than this footwear.
Rarely is a single pair enough. Retro can be a great alternative to the latest, hyped-up release. A classic pair of sneakers from reputable brands like Nike or Adidas will turn heads without much fuss especially with their current trend towards jarring color combinations. Though if you’re looking for something designer lead, French fashion house Dior, have a range of sneakers in their Spring/Summer collection that are a whole lot more subtle.
Graphic Tees and hoodies
Laid-back hoodies and tops are crucial when building your streetwear foundation. There is more to bold designs than just grabbing people’s attention. Streetwear represents a busy urban environment with visual distractions. Patterns and graphics can have a hidden message which can be political or cultural. While eye catching graphics can turn boring hoodies into essential pillars of your look.
Since labels play a crucial role in Streetwear style, it is a great idea to rock a hoodie or t-shirt bearing your favorite brand’s iconography. Designer tops and vintage t-shirts are also perfect for layering.
Denim is a primary accessory in any self-respecting streetwear wardrobe. The rise of Streetwear has provided opportunities to denim brands to experiment and expand the boundaries of their range. For instance, the trend has shifted women’s silhouettes to a broader and square aesthetic from traditional skinny jeans. Also, with a mixing up of weights and lengths, layering has become more innovative and playful.
There’s also been an increase in the range of garments made from denim including skirts, dresses, vests, jackets, and shirts.
A great pair of boots
Although sneakers rule the footwear section in the essential Streetwear wardrobe, boots are a close second. Boots can be used to rebel against stereotypical haute couture and generally lack traces of fancy fashion. They are more authoritative and practical. Perfect examples are combat boots or work boots. The most popular brands of boots among streetwear enthusiasts are Doc Martens and Timberlands.
Tips for styling streetwear
The following are some of the best ways to incorporate streetwear fashion into your look.
- Play with proportions – introducing sweatshirts into high fashion is among Streetwear’s most significant fashion victories. Break the rules of proportion by donning baggy denim and oversized sweatshirts to fashionable effect.
- Stick to a single logo – as brand loyalty is a vital part of streetwear culture, layering different brands in a single look is always frowned upon. You can try displaying one logo at a time if your number of items from different labels is limited. Also, you always use athletic clothing and work wear to supplement the rest of your look.
- Be authentic – while Streetwear may seem to have many rules at the moment, it is centered on being yourself. Since the culture is founded on counterculture and DIY, never shy away from assembling unexpected combinations.
In the past, Streetwear was the domain of rappers and skaters. However, it has become one of the most influential movements in the world of fashion with collaborations between top names such as we saw with the 2021 Coach X Michael B. Jordan Capsule Collection
Inspired by some of the most avant-garde and rule-breaking sub-cultures in fashion, Streetwear is the de-facto uniform for modern statement-makers. It combines both comfort and functionality, making the style ideal for any situation.
Images from NYFW: Street Style Looks from New York Fashion Week FW19.20 by Charlotte Deckers – See the full story here