Streetwear has risen in mainstream fashion over the past few decades, and here we look at how (and why) it has evolved – from 80’s LA skate culture to the influence of celebrities and social media in the 21st century.
The conception and growth of the streetwear trend began in the late 1980s when Shawn Stussy, founder of Stüssy – a small surfboard company, began printing logo t-shirts in Los Angeles, California.
In the early 1990s, major record labels associated with popular hip-hop acts such as Tommy Boy Records and Def Jam Recordings began selling branded items embroidered on letterman jackets and workwear jackets by companies such as Carhartt.
In the mid 90’s, the streetwear trend was incorporated into the hip-hop scenes of New York, the nightlife of Japan and the skating community in California. Graphic tees, loose-fitting jeans, and statement sneakers were created purposefully as an expression by their consumers: the rapper, the skater, and the rebel.
Although streetwear originated in the 80’s, it wasn’t until the early 2000’s that it was made popular, thanks to skaters and their surprising influence on pop culture. During this time, Supreme and Stussy were in their prime, dominating the scene across America and soon, over to Europe. Since then, streetwear has continuously developed and broadened its audience.
The 2000s also saw the rise of the “bling” culture, where established luxury brands entered the market, with Burberry, Gucci and Fendi appearing in hip-hop videos and films. The most popular shoe of the time was the Nike Air Force 1, immortalised in Nelly’s song, Then the fashion clothing manufacturers began to follow the streetwear companies co-opting the idea of very limited-edition capsule collections, now known as “drops”, where social media and product scarcity are used as marketing tools.
Now more than ever, we see the impact that urban culture and streetwear have had on modern luxury fashion. Streetwear today incorporates elements of Japanese street fashion, sportswear and pop-culture, and has become a global symbol of comfortable, aesthetic fashion.
Large fashion houses are inclined to incorporate logo and graphic tees and hoodies in their collections, and sneakers are now a strong fashion statement, unlike before.
The three basic elements of streetwear today include:
Casual, athleisure staples like sweatshirts and joggers are one of the basic elements of streetwear today. Oversized hoodies & sweatshirts were one of the biggest streetwear fashion trends in 2021, and continue to boost popularity in 2022. There is nothing cosier (or trendier) than chucking on an oversized hoodie, paired with your favourite chunky trainers and the right accessories.
Although streetwear is popular among all genders, it is closely tied to traditionally masculine items such as bomber jackets, workwear and oversized clothing, as mentioned above.
Hype culture is all about scarcity and limited-edition items, making highly demanded items seem more fashionable.
Exclusivity was given a new definition within streetwear with ‘drop culture’ – a clever marketing strategy in which brands release a limited-edition product in small quantities. First introduced by Nike when they released Air Jordans in the mid-80s, drop culture was then adopted by skate brands, such as Palace and Stussy, and was carried on to retailers, such as Flight Club.
In streetwear, when a drop is sold out, it’s labelled as successful and exclusive. It leverages on scarcity and creates high demand, which is why, for example, Kanye West’s collaboration with Adidas was so successful.
One of the main catalysts for the increased popularity of streetwear can be put down to the influence of celebrities, models and social media.
Nowadays, fashion is heavily influenced by what people see on social media, and models and influencers are often known to be the ones to set the bar when it comes to what’s “in fashion“ or “on-trend”. As soon as these types of people are seen in designer streetwear, it’s cool. It is for this reason that so many streetwear brands like to collaborate, raising their brand awareness and exposing their designs to the masses.
Over time, celebrities have hopped onto the streetwear bandwagon as well. In many instances, celebrity merchandise is designed keeping in mind the growing trend of streetwear styles. Prominent figures like Kanye West, A$AP Rocky and Tyler the Creator are among the names of celebrities who can be credited with contributing to the staying power of streetwear in mainstream fashion.
From models bringing back the brand Champion, to Justin Beiber’s new streetwear line, Drew House – Gen Z is slowly bringing back the fashion of loose clothing, blatant branding, unique graphics, and functional utility jackets.
Kanye West’s own streetwear collection began only as a sneaker collaboration with Adidas, but has now evolved into a hugely successful and popular brand that even debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2015. The brand’s minimalist take on streetwear classics like hoodies, joggers, and crop tops drove fans into a frenzy.
Though it seems the fashion world is constantly changing with new trends and styles being bought in every year, it’s safe to say designer streetwear isn’t going anywhere fast.
We are Perverse Demand: your favourite luxury clothing brand. Combining the classic 70’s LA skate culture with a preppy chic, we offer a new genre of fashion and produce only the highest quality long-lasting and well-fitting streetwear.
To learn more about unique streetwear fashion, including tips and latest trends, check out our blog page or get in touch via email@example.com to speak to a member of our customer service team.
Written by Kate, for Perverse Demand.