Streetwear: Evolution, Design & Influence

Evolution of Streetwear & It’s Booming Culture

Streetwear is an acquired taste, we do not all have the image that goes with baggy pants, hooded tops and baseball caps. Maybe we are just not cool enough, but as the trend of this clothing and lifestyle grows it could be time to start to embrace it and climb on board…..and I don’t mean your skateboard.

Expression via Fashion

The Streetwear phenomena has come a long way and originated from many urban street influences in the 70’s and 80’s. The skateboard and surfing community, graffiti styling and hip hop culture were influential. A lot of these groups were not readily accepted by the mainstream and found a way to express themselves through graffiti and customised clothing.

Streetwear in many people’s opinion started in USA with the revered Shawn Stussy. He was a surfer that began putting his graffiti tag on his boards and t-shirts and soon became iconic and sought after, leading the way for more to follow. Japan and other countries were revolutionary in moving the looks and designs forward.

Streetwear has always been about functionality and looking good. The jackets were thick and allowed skaters and surfers etc to keep warm in the elements. They have always been colourful and full of attitude as displayed by the hip hop rappers that wear them. Due to the increasing popularity, major fashion brands have seen an outlet that reaches various age groups and cultures and is profitable as well. The designs and influences are forever changing but always have a cross over from the street that is evident.

There are core items that optimise streetwear hoodies, tracksuits, t shirts and trainers. The main brands over the years have been Addict, Atticus, Stussy to name but a few. The hip and trendy youngster have always been the main consumer of these products and in the early days found it conveniently affordable.

Inspiring Fashion Design

What we have started to see in recent years are more cross merchandise items that appeal to even more people. The savvy streetwear brand owners and designers are using their skills and innovative designs to produce, sunglasses, back packs, hats and various other apparel. Blackflyz and Eastpak have made an admiral foray into this market. This means that even if you have no interest in surfing, hip hop or skateboarding you can still have a piece of the young, fun and inspiring lifestyle. Over time women have also embraced the streetwear euphoria with brands such as MbyM and Gentle Fawn catering for the female market.

The new twist on streetwear is the smarter more conservative feel. Brands such as QWST and Fly53 are now mixing colourful designs, colour blocking and stripes to spice up shirts, jumpers and trousers. Once again a wider market is now wearing the styles that were once seen as a genre most people did not want to be part of.

The rich uber celebrities of today’s society have also played a big part in spreading the word for the most iconic brands. Hugely successful rappers and hip hop moguls have worn these names in videos and on red carpets across the world. Hence the youngsters that are coming up want to continue the brand love affair, although on a smaller less expensive scale to emulate their idols.

As a result of the celebrities merging with the corporate companies sneakers like “Nike Air Force” one and the original “Air Jordan MK1”, were market leaders in their time. Luxury brands such as Gucci, Fendi and Burberry have all made their mark in this area. It just goes to show that although something starts small, money and exposure can make it a worldwide commodity that we all want a piece of. As the new streetwear designers come to the market and wow us, we will finally realise that this sub culture is no longer hidden underground.

Learn more about the history and origins of streetwear along with streetwear brands to shop for.

Dave Meek works for Reprebate, leading specialists in urban clothing, street fashion, hip hop wear and skatewear.

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