Streetwear: The Style that Proves Comfort and Self-Expression are not Mutually Exclusive

Right now on GOAT, there is a pair of sneakers that retailed for $140 with a current auction tag of $97,584. Any search through websites like GOAT, StockX and Grailed will display streetwear pieces being sold for hundreds, if not thousands, more than their release prices. Why? Because the items are culturally rich, exclusive and just plain cool.

Streetwear is more than just a style — it is an entire cultural movement intertwined with fashion, art, music and pop culture. Today it also exists as a multibillion dollar industry.

Supreme x Louis Vuitton drop, Credit: stockx.com

Streetwear fashion began in the 1980s and had spread globally by the 1990s. The start of the movement is often credited to Shawn Stussy, founder of the California surf brand Stüssy.

Wanting to expand his surf brand to include clothing, Stussy started making his own T-shirts, which he signed off with a signature that resembled graffiti and sold from the back of his car.

Not only did Stussy want to dabble in the styles of surf culture, but he wanted to completely flip the idea of what was considered fashionable. Just as hip hop and graffiti art were challenging the conventions that existed in their own worlds, street style was doing the same in the fashion industry.

Stussy Store Opening Advertisement, 1996, Credit: Pinterest

Stussy’s clothes were oversized, vintage-looking, darker in color and displayed large logos and graphics. As a result of making each piece by hand, the clothes were also imperfect and one of a kind.

Once Stussy gained some traction on the West Coast, streetwear spread Eastward, most notably with the founding of the skate brand Supreme by James Jebbia in New York City. The cultural movement then spread overseas to big cities in countries like China and Japan.

The movement only grew from there, taking inspiration from art, skate and surf culture, hip hop and athletics.

Streetwear was elevated to more of a luxury style by Dapper Dan, who created looks for hip hop artists who were turned away by the traditional high-fashion brands — almost serving as an “anti-fashion” statement.

The idea behind this style is simple: to wear comfortable clothes, such as T-shirts, hoodies, sneakers and baggy pants in a fashionable way. Streetwear aims to show that comfort and self-expression are not mutually exclusive.

Kendall Jenner street style

Street style has only continued to grow in popularity because casual dress has become more encouraged than ever before. People are no longer expected to wear dresses and suits on airplanes or to baseball games anymore.

A large aspect of street style is sportswear, especially in regards to footwear. Back in the ‘80s, Classic Reeboks, Shell Adidas and Converse were all the rage, but one shoe line in particular took reign: Air Jordans, and continues to hold their popularity to this day.

This cultural movement only continues to thrive, and is now an industry that revolves around the production, promotion, buying and reselling of products. 

This movement not only influenced the dress code and lifestyle of urban youth, but it has also fostered a global community. What started as a group of surfers buying shirts out of a van turned into groups of people logging on for anticipated clothing drops. Now, this community exists as a large trading market for rare items that are bought and sold by people with similar interests and aesthetics.

The “coolness” factor of these exclusive pieces is only furthered by the artists, athletes and celebrities who dress in this style, as well as the collaborations between luxury and street brands, such as the Supreme x Louis Vuitton drop.

Streetwear’s popularity is only growing, and remains especially prominent among high school and college-aged students. I may be biased as a resident of New York City, where we treat the streets like a catwalk, but in my opinion, streetwear is one of the coolest and most expressive styles. For anyone with an interest in music, art or athletics, streetwear fashion may be the look for you. 

Need a place to start?

– Try combining luxury and thrifted pieces. These are two of the best ways to achieve an exclusive, one of a kind look.

– Go oversized!! Whether it be your top, bottom or both, this is one of the cornerstones of street style.

– Pick up pieces with logos, graphics, prints and patterns. There is no better way to spice things up, and it is a great way to showcase some of your interests.

– Get yourself some cool shoes. You don’t have to empty your bank account on GOAT, but research some hype footwear and cop some Jordans if you can.- Check out these brands and websites. Stüssy, Supreme, GOAT, StockX, Grailed, Nike, Adidas, Timberland, BAPE, Off White, Carthart, Champion, 10.Deep (my personal favorite), Vfiles, Sci-Fi Fantasy, Jaded London, Stan Ray, Pleasures, Vans, Obey

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