The Evolution of Streetwear

By: Zackery Silvas

Many of us live for fashion. From New York Fashion Week to the glossy pages of Vogue, there are endless ways to consume fashion. But in the midst of high fashion brands, a little thing called streetwear is on the rise. From Supreme to Stussy, thousands of brands that are worn by many people from many walks of life specialize in a specific type of fashion. Streetwear culture had to start somewhere. The pioneers of yesterday have broken tradition and have allowed street culture to grow as it has today.

During the 1970s, punk rock and hip-hop were on the rise in the music industry. A certain sense of style came with these popular genres. Many people — mainly kids and teenagers — created t-shirts of their own, and the surfer and skater communities became the biggest creators of original brands. This escalated when Shawn Stussy rolled out his clothing brand, Stussy. This brand specifically, and the style that it popularized, allowed people to claim a trend of their own and not be confined to living a life of high fashion. The popularity of streetwear started a domino effect in which bands and rappers were able to create merchandise for themselves and sell it to their fans. This allowed music to influence how streetwear developed, like Run-DMC, a hip-hop group in the 80’s, and their love of Adidas.

Sneaker culture and streetwear culture are about the same, so when Run-DMC started rocking Adidas and fans started to buy more because of them, Adidas realized that they should be the faces of their marketing campaign of the Adidas Superstars. This also started the love that the hip-hop community has with streetwear culture, and now we can see other artists associated with streetwear. Once the 80’s rolled around, bigger brands like Nike rose to the top in the streetwear industry. Luxurious brands like Gucci and Tommy Hilfiger started to take notice and tested out the streetwear market. Every clothing company wanted in on streetwear, and everybody wanted in on the swagger it would give a person. But the 70s, 80s, and 90s were just the beginning. In today’s culture, streetwear is at the top of the fashion industry, and it looks like it will stay there for some time.

Everyone is different and streetwear style is unique to each person. If you look at today’s fashion everyone has at least incorporated its influence in their style.

It ranges from a t-shirt and shorts to a hoodie and sweats; with its focus on casual wear, anybody can say that they are a part of streetwear culture. For me, streetwear culture has been a part of my life since high school.
It started with a “little” brand called Supreme. Even though I couldn’t afford it, I saw it on social media, and hearing it in music and seeing my favorite artists wearing it sparked a curiosity to see what it was about. This led me to start paying attention to what I would wear, but I didn’t go to the extremes of dropping large amounts of money on a single item of clothing. I would find brands that were more affordable, like Hurley. Hurley has been my favorite brand since high school and has always had the best style. I would say that Hurley fits me the best because of the laid-back style it incorporates — since it is a surfing brand — and it is easy to obtain. I can say that Hurley is my Supreme, meaning that it is a brand that I hold just as high as Supreme.

It has been a journey to watch streetwear evolve since I became interested in it. From the rise of snapback hats to now, waiting to see what Jordan is going to be retroed, I feel as though the people who allow this evolution to continue are the younger generation, as well as people who have experience in the fashion industry. I see no reason why streetwear culture should die, and no indication from the industry that it will anytime soon. It’s a great way to express yourself. Knowing that I am a part of this culture is satisfying in many ways, especially because I know that I can associate myself with a specific group.

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