‘Can I Borrow Your Vintage Gucci Belt?’: Streetwear Reigns Supreme

Streetwear+fashion+can+be+seen+from+the+tunnels+of+Fordham+to+the+runway+of+NYFW.

CELIA PATTERSON/THE OBSERVER

Streetwear fashion can be seen from the tunnels of Fordham to the runway of NYFW.

By Macarena Leon, Contributing Writer

Why is she wearing neon green khakis? Why is he wearing a bucket hat three sizes too big? And most importantly, how much did you pay for that “vintage” Yu-Gi-Oh! shirt?      

From colorful tracksuits and graphic tees featuring your favorite animated childhood characters to chunky, white “dad” sneakers and chained pants, streetwear has taken the fashion industry by storm the past few years. However, the trendy aesthetic has been around for years taking influence from various subcultures including California surf culture, hip-hop and Japanese street fashion.

Streetwear’s origins date back to 1980s California when its streets were filled with grungy surfer dudes and preppy valley boys clad in bright colored T-shirts and patterned shorts striving to create a look all their own. There was not a street corner in Los Angeles you could walk through without seeing some aspect of the style. But It was not until Shawn Stussy, founder and creative director of Stüssy, came into the picture that this unique style truly became known as streetwear. Stussy made a name for himself, first, as a surfboard manufacturer before he began printing T-shirts with his signature scripture. The shirts’ laidback look and unique logo would eventually lead to a cult following and a multimillion-dollar company.

Eventually, streetwear outgrew its California roots, traveling across the country where it became incredibly popular within hip-hop circles in New York. Staples such as Adidas tracksuits, big puffer jackets and colorful chunky sneakers were born here, worn by hip-hop icons such as Run-DMC, LL Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa and Wu-Tang Clan. Despite this growing popularity, the trend did not reach mainstream success until streetwear giants Supreme and A Bathing Ape came into the picture and propelled it into the limelight.

The two companies have grown rapidly over the past few years, evolving from underground interests to some of the most coveted streetwear brands in the world. They have gone on to become major players in the fashion industry, collaborating with some of the biggest names out there from Louis Vuitton to Pharrell Williams’  Billionaire Boys Club. These carefully planned collaborations can take months to curate and capture the public’s attention months before they are even released. In 2017, Supreme’s mammoth collaboration with Louis Vuitton garnered billions of dollars and had people lining down the block for hours just to catch a glimpse of it. Similarly, Pharrell’s Roadsta collection with Bathing Ape, featuring an abundance of colorful metallic sneakers, sold out in just minutes.
Nowadays streetwear is everywhere. Specializing in comfortably styled sportswear and utilitarian wear, such as baggy sweatpants and cargo pants, camouflage jackets, logo-clad T-shirts and chunky sneakers, these brands have managed to capture the attention of current popular culture gaining cult followings in major cities such as Paris where pop-ups can garner lines waiting up to 10 hours to small towns in Idaho where you can see your local “hypebeast” wearing the latest season of YEEZYs. Its loud aesthetic allows the trend to make noise on social media furthering its grasp on and fascination from the fashion industry.

Streetwear has gone through many phases evolving from an unknown aesthetic to an industry worth billions of dollars but as the movement continues to increase in popularity it brings up the question of what it will evolve into next.