Streetwear is a style of casual clothing. It commonly centers on casual, comfortable pieces such as jeans, T-shirts, baseball caps, and sneakers.
Street fashion is fashion that is considered to have emerged not from studios, but from the grassroots streetwear. Street fashion is generally associated with youth culture, and is most often seen in major urban centers.
The “street” approach to style and fashion is often based on individualism, rather than focusing solely on current fashion trends. Using street style methods, individuals demonstrate their multiple, negotiated identities, in addition to utilizing subcultural and intersecting styles or trends.
The style is generally accepted to have been born out of the Los Angeles surf culture of the late 1970s and early 1980s. However, this is a point that can be debated. From California, brands such as Ocean Pacific, Hobie, Off Shore, Gotcha, began to gain traction. Although streetwear may have started as a surf sub-culture, it did expand beyond the surf lifestyle. It grew from Californian surf and skate culture to encompass elements of sportswear, hip hop, punk and Japanese street fashion.
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.
In the mid to late 1990s, professional American sports franchises had a big impact on the scene, with Los Angeles Raiders and Chicago Bulls caps and jackets, and oversized team jerseys.
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.
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.
Japanese street fashion sustains multiple simultaneous highly diverse fashion movements at any given time. Mainstream fashion often appropriates street fashion trends as influences. Most major youth subcultures have had an associated street fashion.
Learn more about street fashion in our definitions section.