Street style is one of the most popular fashion trends among youth, artists, and influencers today. American street style arose in the 80s and 90s, emerging from New York City and hip hop culture. It refers to a casual fashion style such as Adidas tracksuits, baggy clothes, baseball caps, and other items. As music artists like Diddy, Tupac, and Mary J. Blige grew in popularity with the mainstream media, so did street style within the African-American community. Mary J. Blige in particular took pride in being an icon in the 1990s for her “ghetto fabulous” street style. This included pairing luxury items like furs, expensive chains, and other flashy items along with casual items. Recently, other luxury fashion brands, such as Supreme, Louis Vuitton, Yeezy, Off-White, and BAPE, have taken part in the evolution of street fashion, which can now be seen on runways.
Street style is supposed to be casual pieces of clothing put together to create a fashionable look. There are many subcategories and types of street fashion. One such example is Japanese street fashion. Companies like BAPE and Yohji Yamamoto make clothes with their own spin that aims to appeal to consumers in Japan. There’s also Techwear, a functional, militaristic, and futuristic form of clothing that’s often merged within the category of streetwear.
However, with the rise in attention to streetwear comes a rise in prices. High-quality street fashion has become unaffordable for the average person and now caters only to rich celebrities and influencers, many of whom now not only wear it on the daily, but use it to make a statement at award shows and events. This prompts us to ask the question, is streetwear’s newfound inaccessibility just another form of gentrification? With luxury brands producing more and more streetwear, the authenticity and true purpose of the style is challenged. Streetwear was always supposed to be an accessible form of fashion that was a creative outlet for youth, and the existence of these luxury brands should not eliminate this aspect. There are still affordable ways of participating in street fashion, such as thrifting or upcycling.
Street fashion is also understood as a major part of Black culture in America, although other communities have also been participating and altering street fashion. Street style trends will also change depending on the location and the community, because the more variety there is, the better the accessibility and creativity of the style will be. This form of fashion has always welcomed the idea of merging creativity, artistry, and luxury.
Overall, street fashion has grown in popularity and diversity over the years. The need for more accessible, non-fast fashion brands that still reflect the culture and origin has risen drastically. However, luxury street fashion is here to stay, and it can help to open the doors to more subcategories in the future, as well as raise more awareness and consequently the possibility of more artistic access to the fashion. It truly is an exciting form of expression, as well as one that is ever-changing.