Streetwear is a style of casual clothing which became global in the 1990s. It grew from Californian surf and skate culture to encompass elements of sportswear, hip hop, punk, Japanese street fashion and haute couture. It commonly centers on "casual, comfortable pieces such as jeans, T-shirts, baseball caps, and sneakers". Enthusiasts follow particular brands and try to obtain limited edition releases.
The style is generally accepted to have been born out of the Los Angeles surf culture of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Brands include BlauGrun, Ocean Pacific, Hobie, Off Shore, Gotcha and Life's a Beach.
Surfboard designer Shawn Stussy began selling printed T-shirts featuring the same trademark signature he placed on his custom surfboards. Initially selling the items from his own car, Stussy expanded sales to boutiques once popularity increased. Stüssy's move into exclusive sales firmed up the baseline definition of streetwear: taking "a multi-faceted, subculturally diverse, Southern California lifestyle-based T-shirt brand and [mimicking] the limited feel of a high-end luxury brand...those are the two most integral components of what makes a brand streetwear: T-shirts and exclusivity."
Early streetwear brands took inspiration from the DIY aesthetic of punk, new wave, heavy metal and hip hop. Established sportswear and fashion brands such as Kangol and Adidas attached themselves to the early 1980s hip hop scene
Nike's capture of soon-to-be basketball superstar Michael Jordan from rival Adidas in 1984 was a turning point, with Nike dominating the urban streetwear sneaker market in the late 80's and early 90's. Other clothing brands such as Champion, Carhartt and Timberland were very closely associated with the scene, particularly on the East coast with hip hop acts such as Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep sporting the look.
With the advent of "bling" culture, the turn of the century saw established luxury brands make inroads into the market, with Burberry, Gucci and Fendi making appearances in hip hop videos and films. The most popular shoe of the era was the Nike Air Force One, immortalized in the song by Nelly.
Brand launches by the chief executives of record companies followed, with Russell Simmons of Def Jam launching his Phat Farm label, Sean Combs of Bad Boy with Sean John, and Jay-Z and Damon Dash of Roc-a-Fella Records launching Rocawear. Rap superstar 50 Cent a few years later launched his G-Unit clothing label, with the sneaker rights given to Reebok.
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Common sportswear worn in contemporary street styles include hoodies, bomber jackets, tennis-style skirts, track pants, leggings, and sneakers. Some of these are a revival of 1990s hip-hop fashion, which also favoured bomber jackets and baseball caps.
Contemporary streetwear is usually influenced by the generic sporty twists and sleek athletic lines. In earlier stages of sportswear fashion, femininity was usually expressed with the lines becoming cleaner, and silhouettes becoming minimal. Later, bold volumes in sportswear started to develop, hi-tech fabrics and old-school approaches were used in styling. In general, relaxed silhouettes, clean shapes, little embellishments, and an overall sophisticated feel would be observed in the looks of the trend.
The decline of formal wear led to the rise of streetwear fashion. High-end and luxury brands began to develop “luxury sportswear”, for example Alexander Wang, Gucci, and DKNY. Among this type of “luxury sportswear”, luxe fabrics were used to produce their sportswear fashion for a high contrast on the sporty silhouette. Fabrics like silk organza, washed satin, leather, neoprene, and wool crepe were used to produce the “luxury sportswear”. These types of fabrics may help experiment a garment with texture, and may assist in capturing a modern-sports spirit of the season.
Details of the designs in “luxury sportswear” looks are pulled directly from actual active wear. The two words, “luxury” and “minimalism” were first used together for sportswear in fashion, to interpret a fresh sports look which is sleek and clean, but bearing recognizable athletic influences.
Common mix-and-match combination of “luxury sportswear” on streetwear are track pants under basketball shorts, with bold patterns and sumptuous fabrics for men; and light colored pencil skirts, with bomber jackets and sleek tops, cut in satin or tweed, for women.
Sportswear in streetwear designs changes according to season.
In winter, sports silhouette tends to turn slouchier and volumes are exaggerated. Solid fabrics such as fur, velvet, wool and leather become predominant, and quilted detailing on windbreakers, sporty skirts and vests can be seen. A typical winter look might be a voluminous sweatshirt with satin boxer shorts, or a brocade bomber jacket worn on top of a laid-back dress featuring mesh detailing.
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- Bread and Butter tradeshow
- Punk fashion
- Street fashion
- Lanie Alabanza-Barcena
- Dover Street Market
- Anti Social Social Club
- Billionaire Boys Club
- Virgil Abloh
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