What is “Streetwear” Must-Know Info About Fashion’s Biggest Buzzword


The 1990s saw the worldwide proliferation of the streetwear subculture. With its roots in New York’s hip hop scene and California’s surf culture, it’s expanded to incorporate skateboarding, punk, and ’90s sportswear, as well as ’90s Japanese street style.

Finally, haute couture started to have an impact. It’s characterized by a focus on “casual, comfy pieces like jeans, T-shirts, baseball caps, and sneakers,” as well as an emphasis on scarcity to promote a sense of exclusivity.

Brand loyalists go to great lengths to secure special editions of their favorite products. As a subculture, streetwear is commonly thought to have originated in the late 1970s and early 1980s in New York City’s hip-hop scene, with influences from the Los Angeles surf scene.


DIY punk style, Japanese street fashion, new wave, heavy metal, and long-standing legacy sportswear and workwear labels like Schott NYC, Dr. Martens, Kangol, Fila, and Adidas all influenced the development of early streetwear in the 1970s and 1980s.

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Introduction to Streetwear

Originating in the surf and skate culture of California in the late 1970s and early 1980s, streetwear has since grown into a global phenomenon.

It combines elements of hip-hop, surf, skate, and art, and is characterized by the use of comfortable, casual pieces like t-shirts, hoodies, sneakers, and caps. Streetwear is more than just fashion; it’s a form of self-expression and cultural identity.

Understanding Streetwear’s Distinct Style

Streetwear is defined by its relaxed and comfortable yet stylish approach. It often includes bold, graphic tees, oversized silhouettes, limited-edition sneakers, and an emphasis on branding. This style is continuously evolving, influenced by various subcultures and the broader socio-cultural environment.

Key Features of Streetwear

  1. Comfort and Practicality: Focused on casual, easy-to-wear clothing.
  2. Influence from Subcultures: Drawn from skate, surf, hip-hop, and street art.
  3. Bold and Graphic Designs: Often features loud prints and logos.
  4. Limited-Edition Releases: Includes exclusive drops and collaborations, creating a sense of exclusivity and hype.

The Rise of Streetwear

Streetwear’s journey from the streets to the high-fashion runways has been marked by its appeal to youth culture and its representation of rebellion against the mainstream. The style has gained global traction, resonating with diverse groups due to its adaptability and inclusive ethos.

What is Streetwear? Must-Know Info About Fashion’s Biggest Buzzword

The streetwear subculture has become one of the most influential in the fashion business. The worldwide streetwear sector was valued an estimated $309 billion in 2017, as reported by Business of Fashion.

Hypebeast found that over two-thirds of consumers (62%) agree that streetwear products would never go out of style, with 45% saying they buy an item of streetwear clothes at least once a month.

The trend of streetwear clothing has arrived, whether you like it or not. To help you make sense of the complex, multibillion-dollar industry that has taken over the world of fashion, we’ve provided a breakdown of the most popular fashion buzzword: streetwear. By the time you finish this, you will be a full-fledged hypebeast if you weren’t already.

The Definition of Streetwear

The apparent simplicity of defining streetwear is misleading. According to the fashion industry, “streetwear” refers to the trendy, informal clothes worn by pop culture enthusiasts.

The vast majority of these devotees are young adults (those under 30), and they are concentrated in major cities where they form a subculture (ex. skateboarders or hip-hop music fans).

The fashion industry struggles to define what constitutes streetwear style. Skateboarding, surfing, hip hop, athletics, high fashion, K-pop, and other forms of popular culture all serve as inspirations.

Similar variety may be seen in the demographics of its clientele, which includes people from all walks of life and all parts of the world. Moreover, it’s not that we’ve become too lazy to try. In fact, streetwear isn’t just a general trend toward looser garments.

There’s a lot more going on in the world of high fashion than the pricey t-shirts, the mile-long queues at shoe releases, and the designer labels plastered on everything imaginable.

Streetwear’s Influence on the Traditional Fashion Model

To put it simply, streetwear is a complete 180 from the standard fashion paradigm. In the past, runway fashion was decided by designers and trend forecasters, store buyers, and magazine editors, and customers were instructed what to buy and what to avoid for the forthcoming season.

Direct-to-consumer business models, which are prevalent in streetwear, have shifted the power to the consumers. When streetwear first appeared, it completely upended the fashion industry.

High-status individuals’ street style, such as those of influencers, celebrities, and singers, has a significant impact on what we consider stylish in today’s digital environment.

Now more than ever, thanks to social media, anyone can establish their own clothing business or become an online influencer. Instead of the fashion elite deciding what’s next in streetwear, millions of users’ likes, shares, and retweets do.

Streetwear as a Status Symbol

The complexity of fashion’s function in contemporary consumer culture is vividly demonstrated by the rise of luxury streetwear. There is more to the symbolism of that emblem on your chest or those sneakers on your feet than just the company who made them.

Attaching a designer label to something makes it look more expensive and exclusive. These high-priced brands are status symbols that communicate information about your income and values to others.

who can afford Balenciaga are the fashion elite, while everyone else is left wanting (those in the Zara knock-offs).

Because not everyone has access to limited edition designer sneakers or can afford to spend several hundred dollars on a single pair, the fast fashion sector has jumped on the streetwear bandwagon by producing knockoffs.

An enthusiastic hypebeast can recognize a fake or a hard-to-find designer piece a mile away, even if the untrained eye cannot. This whole sneaker thing is very #IYKYK.

The Cultural Significance of Streetwear

Streetwear is deeply intertwined with cultural movements, particularly within music, sports, and art. It’s not just about clothing; it’s a lifestyle choice that reflects attitudes, music preferences, and social standings.

Streetwear as a Form of Self-Expression

For many, streetwear is a way to express individuality and belonging to specific cultural groups. Its diverse influences make it a versatile canvas for personal expression.

Streetwear and Popular Culture

The integration of streetwear into popular culture has been expedited by its adoption by celebrities, musicians, and influencers. This has further propelled its popularity and acceptance in mainstream fashion.

The Evolution of Streetwear Fashion

Streetwear has evolved from being underground to a mainstream fashion staple. This evolution has been marked by collaborations between streetwear brands and luxury fashion houses, blurring the lines between high fashion and casual wear.

Streetwear Brands and Collaborations

Iconic brands like Supreme, Stüssy, and Off-White have been at the forefront of streetwear’s evolution. Collaborations with luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci have elevated streetwear to a luxury status.

The Global Streetwear Market

The streetwear market has grown exponentially, with a global audience and influence. Brands have capitalized on this growth through online drops and exclusive releases, creating a robust secondary market for rare items.

Challenges and Criticisms of Streetwear

Despite its popularity, streetwear faces criticisms of over-commercialization and losing its original authenticity and rebellious spirit. The hype around limited releases has also led to issues like reselling at inflated prices.

Sustainability and Ethical Concerns

As with the broader fashion industry, streetwear faces challenges regarding sustainability and ethical production practices. There is a growing demand for streetwear brands to adopt more sustainable and ethical practices in their production.

The Future of Streetwear

The future of streetwear lies in its ability to innovate and adapt while staying true to its roots. It is poised to continue influencing the fashion industry and culture at large.

Emerging Trends in Streetwear

Trends like a greater focus on sustainability, gender-neutral designs, and digital-first approaches are shaping the future of streetwear. Brands are also exploring new ways to engage communities through social media and digital platforms.

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The youth subculture known as “streetwear” takes its style cues from the skateboarders and sneakerheads of California and the “hipsters” of New York. One of the most distinctive and famous types of apparel in modern history, it first appeared in the 1980s.

The term “Streetwear fashion” is now widely used, and designers from all over the world compete to create new pieces in this vein. For urban youngsters who are interested in music and sports, this is streetwear at its most trendy and cutting edge.


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