Over the last half-decade or so, the biggest streetwear brands have shifted intensely to the mainstream fashion landscape. No longer reserved for the skateboarders they once attracted, they are coveted property sought after by Hollywood’s leading figures, fashionistas, high school students, and young city planners.
The Streetwear Journey
This phenomenon which was inspired by some of the counter-cultural movements of the eighties and nineties – hip hop, graffiti, skateboarding, and surfing, among others- has become a multi-million dollar market. Some estimates claim that it already accounts for 10% of the world textile and footwear market.
The origins of streetwear may be traced back to the 1980s and 1990s skate, surf, and hip-hop cultures on the east and west coasts of North America. It was a badge of honor for individuals engaged, symbolizing their participation in a movement that existed outside of the fashion business.
The modern dress culture is changing, and now, people are getting closer to streetwear thanks to NBA players, musicians, and a fashion industry that is becoming much more visible from multiple angles. Now it is a much bigger business!
Modern streetwear brands that portray youth independence are rekindling the spirit of young artists and designers who are totally determined to make a name for themselves in the industry. With easier access to design tools like Adobe Photoshop and social platforms like Instagram to exhibit designs, there has been an exponential growth in the number of “bedroom designers” over the last few years.
The idea of designers venturing into the field of streetwear is nothing new, but what we are experiencing is a youth-driven streetwear culture that has become so popular it is entering the most historic ateliers.
Sustainable Street Fashion
As the high fashion industry spreads and streetwear is becoming a mass product, it is also contributing to the problem of sustainability the fashion industry is currently grappling with. Big brands need to be committed to reforming the ongoing environmental and social impact of the industry.
Not only should great designs prevail, but other things must be considered, such as the sourcing of materials in newer and safer ways, using recycled options, conservation of resources, and providing humane conditions in production. Some Eco-conscious brands are operating under the 3R concept and finding innovative ways of turning unconventional fabrics into fashion items, while shoe brands use organic cotton and wild rubber in the production of shoes and sell millions yearly. Nike uses 70 percent recycled materials in some of their sneaker models, like the VaporMax 270 and 720.
Today, more people besides hippy young people want to wear comfortable, relaxed clothing and T-shirts with cool graphics, and there are so many options available now! The beauty of streetwear is that it is constantly evolving and updating to fit the social climate of the moment. In the end, streetwear belongs to the community of people who created it and live it every day. They are the people who lead and push forward to the future, inspiring and influencing the masses.