Streetwear is one of the most versatile clothing styles. Focus on 3 essential things you need to know about its history and mutations.
Streetwear is a vast subject that is difficult to pinpoint, since it is made up of such a large number of subcultures that have shaped and influenced it since its appearance in the 70’s. However, we have attempted to: selecting 3 essential things to know about the streetwear style and its history.
3 essential things you need to know about streetwear
1. Streetwear is a style which was originally created by disadvantaged young people
Streetwear was born in the 70’s in the United States, among young people from disadvantaged areas. Marginalised and without the means to buy branded clothing, they made do with what they had at hand: their creativity and urban codes.
Streetwear is thus less about clothing and more about signs of recognition, of belonging and asserting an identity. The important thing is the style, the way in which the clothes are worn. With originality and freedom, somewhere between informality and sophistication. It is therefore a real urban art, just like graffiti, skateboarding and hip hop.
2. Streetwear was popularised by the hip hop stars of the East Coast of the United States
In the mid 80’s and beginning of the 90’s, large streetwear brands such as Champion, Carhartt and Timberland were closely linked to artists on the American music scene of the East Coast, such as Wu-Tang Clan and Gang Starr. Streetwear won over the hip hop star system, and invaded global clothing culture. The first iconic pieces established themselves, such as the famous Carhartt watch cap or the Champion jumper, which is making a comeback to the forefront of the scene today with the help of the Japanese from Beams. The distinctive prints and logos are essential.
Its success was such that in 1989, the historic Carhartt workwear brand decided to launch a 100% streetwear line in collaboration with Work In Progress. The trend was then towards the oversized: the loose outlines and the famous sagging pants defined streetwear until the end of the 90’s, before the skinny jeans of Californian skaters changed things.
3. Streetwear has its own market in Japan since the 90’s
Streetwear entered the Japanese market at the beginning of the 80’s, when Hiroshi Fujiwara became the ambassador for the Stüssy brand in Tokyo. It was the very effervescent area of Harajuku, with its shops open 24h a day, which saw the emergence and successive mutations of Japanese streetwear up until the 90’s.
In very little time, Japan became a real stronghold of worldwide streetwear. The first labels were created and established themselves as benchmarks, with highly sought after products and brands including A Bathing Ape by Nigo and Goodenough. The first pieces were hand-made in limited quantitites, but success wasn’t long in coming.
Do you know any other key facts about streetwear? Share them with us, or show us your best looks! And don’t miss the Abhras review column about streetwear Made in Centreville.
Written by Démian Peeters — garment columnist and co-editor of the allwear magazine Abhras.