Streetwear nowadays is something associated with high-end fashion, very sought after, with some brands producing a cult-like following. However, it is only in the past few seasons that streetwear has gained this reputation. So where did it all originate from?
There is general consensus that streetwear was a byproduct of the skating and surfing scene of California in the 1970s, alongside the hip hop scene emerging there at the same time. So really it has been evolving and changing constantly since the 70s. It has just taken a few decades for it to come to the attention of the masses, rather than be part of its own subculture.
Streetwear carried on being a defining characteristic of the skating and hip hop scene, but moved itself across the US and by the 90s was more likely to be associated with New York than that of California, and it is during this decade we see some of the much bigger brands of streetwear emerge.
While these various large brands and their success are part of the reason streetwear became mainstream, there are other bigger factors to consider also. Firstly, there was a democratisation of fashion. This meant that there was less emphasis on which brand you were wearing, which in turn allowed more people to participate in a market and launch their own labels. The gatekeepers of fashion had lost their authority.
Secondly, society’s dress code quite simply became more relaxed over time. If you look at trends from the 1950s to today, you can see how there is now a lot less emphasis on the importance of a suit and other ‘smart’ wear. And a lot of the time fashion focuses on people being able to identify themselves rather than be associated with a brand. Even large financial firms have now relaxed their dress code to go with the times.
The thing that really allowed streetwear to explode is its level of celebrity endorsement, such as Kanye West, the Kardashians, Rihanna and others all advocating different types of streetwear. This is more than just endorsement though, in many ways streetwear has intertwined itself with pop culture and can often be at the forefront of the story as much as the celebrity being reported on, it shares the limelight in a particular way that has not happened with previous trends.
Nowadays brands such as Blood Brother, carry on keeping this trend fresh, giving us clothing that emphasizes minimalism people love about streetwear yet still manage to stand out. And are constantly pushing the parameters of what defines streetwear, as it becomes this global phenomenon, introducing itself to a new generation far removed from its humble origins.