Delving into the Heart of Streetwear’s Subcultures
One of streetwear’s unique characteristics is that it is composed of distinct subcultures, each with its own unique styles and personality. It would not be inaccurate to describe it as a constantly evolving cultural phenomenon, rather than just a simple fashion category. This is why it has been notoriously difficult to define, and why there is a dizzyingly large amount of variety present within it.
Arguably, the only common element to streetwear is that it is predominantly casual and comfortable, though this does not preclude luxury. It is understated and bold in equal measure, using every colour and print imaginable. Pieces can either be perennial, or reference fleeting trends and events. There is little way to predict what brands will come up with next – or even which brands will stay relevant.
Among the different subcultures, skate, hip hop, and punk lead the pack. You can easily see their influence on items such as 10 Deep T-shirts or King Apparel snapbacks; every piece makes a statement, and usually identifies with one of these three.
How Streetwear Evolved from its Subcultures
Streetwear began as a grassroots fashion movement, and grew rapidly from there. It developed in direct opposition to the mainstream, pop-culture brands that filled malls at the time. The individuality and uniqueness of streetwear helped quickly set it apart.
Most agree that skater and surfer culture was the foundation of early streetwear, as people began developing a fashion that represented themselves and their way of life. Shawn Stussy played a key role in commercialising the trend by incorporating fashion concepts with everyday skater apparel.
It did not take long for most people to begin adding elements of hip hop and punk into their wardrobes. The strong attitude, independence, and disdain for authority inherent in these two subcultures made them natural additions to the growing fashion movement.
Even now, as luxury brands have set up shop within the market and almost all pieces being mass-produced, there is a strong appreciation for creativity and individuality. There is little doubt that this aspect of its personality will persist for decades to come.