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Fashion 101: What Is Streetwear?


Fashion 101: What Is Streetwear?

Fashion 101: What Is Streetwear?


What is Streetwear? Discover the urban style revolution: from underground roots to global fashion phenomenon.


Quick Answer: Streetwear is a fashion style that blends elements of urban culture, music, and art. It features comfortable, casual clothing like hoodies, trainers, and graphic tees, celebrating individuality and self-expression.


Key Takeaways: 

  • Streetwear is a distinctive style that emerged from urban youth subcultures, celebrating individuality and self-expression through bold graphics, vibrant colours, and unconventional designs.
  • Essential streetwear pieces include hoodies, sweatshirts, graphic tees, and trainers, with brands like Palace, Trapstar, and Represent gaining popularity in the UK fashion scene.
  • Collaborations and limited editions drive hype in streetwear, while social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have played a crucial role in the growth and popularity of streetwear culture.


What Is Streetwear? Understanding the Basics


Defining Streetwear: A Fusion of Fashion, Culture, and Attitude


Streetwear is a distinctive style of clothing that emerged from the bustling streets of urban centres, capturing the essence of youth culture and self-expression. Born from the convergence of fashion, music, art, and skateboarding, streetwear has evolved into a global phenomenon that transcends age, gender, and social boundaries. As renowned streetwear designer Bobby Hundreds puts it, "Streetwear is about culture. It's not about clothing."


At its core, streetwear is a canvas for individuals to showcase their unique personalities and interests. It's a style that celebrates individuality and encourages wearers to express themselves through bold graphics, vibrant colours, and unconventional designs. Streetwear is not just about looking good; it's about making a statement and standing out from the crowd.


The Key Elements of Streetwear Style

When it comes to crafting the perfect streetwear outfit, there are a few essential pieces that every enthusiast should have in their wardrobe. Hoodies and sweatshirts are the backbone of streetwear, offering comfort and versatility while providing ample space for eye-catching graphics and logos. Graphic tees are another staple, often featuring artwork, slogans, or collaborations with artists and musicians.

Footwear plays a crucial role in streetwear, with trainers being the go-to choice for most enthusiasts. Iconic designs like the adidas Originals Superstar and the Nike Air Force 1 have become synonymous with the streetwear aesthetic, thanks to their timeless appeal and cultural significance. In the UK, sales of trainers have soared in recent years, with the market expected to reach £6.5 billion by 2025.


Royal Blue Cap Streetwear UK



How Streetwear Differs from Traditional Fashion

While traditional fashion often adheres to strict rules and seasonal trends, streetwear marches to the beat of its own drum. Streetwear prioritises comfort, functionality, and self-expression over the rigid conventions of high fashion. It's a style that embraces oversized silhouettes, relaxed fits, and gender-neutral designs, creating a more inclusive and accessible fashion landscape.

However, streetwear's influence has not gone unnoticed by the mainstream fashion industry. In recent years, luxury labels have increasingly collaborated with streetwear brands, recognising the style's cultural cachet and youth appeal. The Louis Vuitton x Supreme collection, which debuted in 2017, is a prime example of this trend, with the collaboration generating a reported $23 million in sales.


The Importance of Authenticity and Exclusivity in Streetwear

In the world of streetwear, authenticity is everything. Enthusiasts value brands that stay true to their roots and maintain a strong connection to the subcultures that spawned them. Brands that attempt to capitalise on the streetwear trend without understanding its history and values are often met with skepticism and derision from the community.

Exclusivity is another key factor in the streetwear scene, with limited-edition releases and collaborations driving much of the hype and demand for certain products. Brands like Supreme and Palace have mastered the art of scarcity, releasing small batches of highly sought-after items that sell out within minutes. This exclusivity has given rise to a thriving resale market, where coveted pieces can fetch several times their original retail price.

In conclusion, streetwear is more than just a fashion trend; it's a cultural movement that reflects the values, attitudes, and aspirations of a generation. By understanding the basics of streetwear style and the importance of authenticity and exclusivity, fashion enthusiasts can begin to appreciate the depth and complexity of this ever-evolving genre.


The Evolution of Streetwear: From Underground to Mainstream


The Origins of Streetwear in UK Youth Subcultures

Streetwear's roots can be traced back to the vibrant youth subcultures that emerged in the UK during the late 20th century. Punk, hip-hop, and grime all played a significant role in shaping the streetwear aesthetic, with their distinctive fashion choices, music, and attitudes.

These movements were largely driven by working-class youth who used fashion as a means of expressing their identity and resistance to mainstream society. Brands like Liam Hodges and Maharishi emerged from these subcultures, offering unique designs that resonated with the rebellious spirit of the time.


Streetwear Grey and Navy Joggers


The Influence of Hip-Hop and Grime on British Streetwear

Hip-hop and grime music have had a profound impact on the evolution of British streetwear. Artists like Dizzee Rascal, Skepta, and Stormzy have not only influenced fashion trends but have also used their music to address social issues and urban life, which aligns with streetwear's authentic and rebellious image.

Iconic moments in British hip-hop and grime streetwear include Skepta's Boy Better Know clothing line and Stormzy's collaborations with Adidas. These partnerships have helped to bring streetwear to the forefront of popular culture and have solidified its place in the UK fashion scene.


The Rise of Streetwear Brands in the UK Fashion Scene

The success of British streetwear brands can be attributed to a combination of factors, including the growing popularity of casual and comfortable clothing, the influence of social media, and the demand for unique and exclusive designs.

Brands like Palace, Trapstar, and Represent have gained a loyal following among British youth by offering high-quality, stylish pieces that reflect the streetwear aesthetic. According to a report by PwC, the UK streetwear market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.1% between 2020 and 2025, reaching a value of £3.2 billion by 2025.


Collaborations and Limited Editions: Driving the Hype in Streetwear

Collaborations and limited-edition releases are a key driver of hype and excitement within the streetwear community. Partnerships between streetwear brands and artists, musicians, or other cultural figures create a sense of exclusivity and desirability around their products.

High-profile collaborations, such as the Nike x Skepta Air Max 97 or the Palace x Reebok Classic collection, have had a significant impact on the popularity and mainstream acceptance of streetwear. These limited-edition items often command high resale values, with some pieces selling for several times their original retail price.


The Role of Social Media in the Growth of Streetwear Culture

Social media has played a crucial role in the growth and popularity of streetwear culture. Platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok have allowed streetwear enthusiasts to connect, share their style, and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and releases.

Social media has also democratized the fashion industry, giving smaller streetwear brands and influencers a platform to reach a wider audience. Successful streetwear social media campaigns and influencer partnerships have helped to drive brand awareness and sales, further fueling the growth of the streetwear market.


From the Streets to the Runway: Streetwear's Impact on High Fashion

Streetwear has challenged and transformed traditional notions of luxury fashion, with streetwear-inspired designs increasingly appearing on high fashion runways. The rise of luxury streetwear brands like Off-White and Vetements has blurred the lines between streetwear and high fashion, with luxury brands collaborating with streetwear labels and adopting streetwear aesthetics.

Significant streetwear-luxury crossover moments include the Louis Vuitton x Supreme collaboration and the Balenciaga Triple S sneaker. These partnerships have helped to legitimize streetwear as a serious player in the fashion industry and have opened up new opportunities for streetwear brands to reach a more affluent customer base.


Man showing gold detailing of heavyweight Burgundy and cream joggers



Embracing Streetwear Style: Tips and Inspiration


Building a Streetwear-Inspired Wardrobe: Essential Pieces

Creating a streetwear-inspired wardrobe starts with investing in quality basics that form the foundation of your style. These essentials include hoodies, sweatshirts, graphic tees, and trainers. When selecting these pieces, look for reliable brands and retailers that offer durability and comfort without compromising on style.

Accessories play a crucial role in elevating your streetwear outfit. Caps, bags, and jewelry can add a personal touch and help you express your individual style. To make sure you have all the necessary elements, refer to this checklist of must-have streetwear items:

  • Hoodies and sweatshirts in various colors and designs
  • Graphic tees with authentic and meaningful prints
  • Comfortable and stylish trainers
  • Statement accessories like caps, bags, and jewelry


Hoodies and Sweatshirts: The Backbone of Streetwear

Hoodies and sweatshirts are the cornerstones of streetwear fashion, thanks to their comfort, versatility, and ability to showcase bold designs and branding. Iconic hoodie designs, such as the Supreme Box Logo or the Palace Tri-Ferg, have become cultural symbols in their own right.

When styling hoodies and sweatshirts, consider layering them under jackets or pairing them with complementary pieces like jeans or cargo trousers. Experiment with different colors and patterns to create a variety of looks, from casual everyday outfits to more elevated ensembles.


Graphic Tees and Bold Branding

Graphic tees are a powerful tool for self-expression in streetwear style, allowing you to showcase your interests, affiliations, and personality. When selecting graphic tees, opt for designs that are authentic, meaningful, and resonate with you on a personal level.

Some influential streetwear graphic tees include the Stüssy World Tour Tee and the BAPE Camo Shark Tee. These designs have left a lasting impact on the streetwear scene and continue to inspire new generations of enthusiasts.

To style graphic tees, try layering them under open shirts or pairing them with statement outerwear pieces like denim jackets or bomber jackets. This creates a balanced and visually interesting outfit that draws attention to your graphic tee's bold design.


Trainers: The Foundation of Any Streetwear Outfit

Trainers are the literal and figurative foundation of any streetwear outfit. The right pair of trainers can make or break your look, so it's essential to select models that balance style, comfort, and durability.

Popular streetwear trainer models include the Nike Air Force 1, the adidas Yeezy Boost, and the New Balance 990. Collaborations and limited-edition releases are also significant in the streetwear trainer market, contributing to the hype and desirability of certain models.

To ensure the longevity of your streetwear trainers, adopt a regular maintenance and care routine. This includes cleaning them regularly, using protective sprays, and storing them properly when not in wear.


Accessories That Make a Statement

Accessories are the cherry on top of a streetwear-inspired outfit, allowing you to add a personal touch and elevate your look. Essential streetwear accessories include caps, beanies, bags, and jewelry.

When selecting accessories, look for brands and retailers that offer high-quality and stylish options. Some iconic streetwear accessory designs include the Supreme x Louis Vuitton baseball cap and the Palace x Adidas Originals bucket hat.

Remember, accessories should complement your outfit without overwhelming it. Use them to express your individual style and interests, but be mindful of balance and proportion to avoid a cluttered appearance.


Mixing and Matching: Creating Your Unique Streetwear Look

One of the joys of streetwear fashion is the freedom to mix and match pieces to create your own unique look. Experiment with combining different brands, colors, and patterns to achieve a cohesive and stylish outfit.

When layering streetwear garments, pay attention to balance and proportion. Avoid over-accessorizing or creating a cluttered appearance by focusing on a few key pieces that work well together.

For inspiration, look to streetwear influencers and fashion bloggers who have mastered the art of mixing and matching. Analyze their outfits and take note of the combinations that catch your eye, then adapt them to suit your own personal style.


Streetwear Style Icons and Influencers to Follow

The UK streetwear scene is brimming with influential style icons and influencers who are shaping the future of the subculture. Figures like Skepta, Stormzy, and Aleali May have made a significant impact on the streetwear world, with their fashion choices inspiring trends and sparking conversations.

To stay up-to-date with the latest streetwear releases, collaborations, and styling ideas, follow a mix of established and up-and-coming British influencers and bloggers on social media. Some names to keep on your radar include:

  • Kicki Yang Zhang: A London-based fashion blogger and stylist known for her eclectic and colorful streetwear looks.
  • Magnus Ronning: A Scottish streetwear enthusiast and YouTuber who shares his passion for fashion and sneakers with his growing audience.
  • Gully Guy Leo: A Manchester-based influencer and model who has collaborated with brands like Nike and Foot Locker.

By following these influencers and engaging with their content, you'll gain valuable insights into the diverse and ever-evolving world of British streetwear.


Discovering Up-and-Coming UK Streetwear Brands Like Double Up

The UK streetwear scene is constantly evolving, with new brands emerging and pushing the boundaries of style and innovation. One such brand is Double Up, a promising up-and-coming label that is making waves in the fashion industry.

Launched in 2022 and based in London, Double Up is a premium streetwear brand that draws inspiration from individuals who have shown that through hard work, perseverance, and self-belief, we can all elevate and achieve our goals. The brand's aesthetic combines bold designs, quality materials, and a commitment to authenticity, reflecting the rebellious spirit of streetwear culture.

By supporting and following emerging brands like Double Up, you'll not only stay ahead of the curve in your streetwear journey but also contribute to the growth and evolution of the British streetwear community.


Styling Streetwear for Different Occasions and Settings

Streetwear style is more versatile than you might think, and with a few smart styling choices, you can adapt it to suit various occasions and settings.

For more formal events, try dressing up your streetwear pieces. Pair a graphic tee with a blazer and tailored trousers, or elevate a hoodie with statement outerwear like a long coat or a leather jacket. This combination of streetwear and formalwear creates a unique and eye-catching look that showcases your personal style.

When incorporating streetwear into office-appropriate outfits, balance is key. Combine a collared shirt with streetwear trainers and accessories, or layer a crisp white tee under a suit jacket for a modern and relaxed take on business casual.

Remember, streetwear is all about self-expression and confidence. As long as you feel comfortable and true to yourself, you can rock a streetwear-inspired look in any situation, from date nights to weekend brunches.


Streetwear Fashion Hacks for Budget-Conscious Enthusiasts

Staying on-trend in the streetwear world doesn't have to mean breaking the bank. With a few smart fashion hacks and tips, you can build a stylish streetwear wardrobe without overspending.

Start by investing in versatile, high-quality basics that can be mixed and matched to create multiple outfits. These foundational pieces will form the backbone of your streetwear style and ensure that you always have something to wear.

When shopping for streetwear pieces, keep an eye out for sales and discounts. Many retailers offer seasonal promotions and clearance events that provide an opportunity to score authentic streetwear at reduced prices. Additionally, resale platforms like Depop and Grailed are great resources for finding gently used or rare streetwear items at more affordable prices.

If you're feeling creative, consider customizing or upcycling your existing streetwear garments. Add patches, embroidery, or screen prints to plain tees and hoodies, or distress and tailor your denim for a unique and personalized look.

Finally, don't underestimate the power of affordable streetwear brands and collaborations. Labels like Uniqlo, ASOS, and Weekday offer stylish and well-made streetwear pieces at accessible price points, while collaborations between high-street and luxury brands provide an opportunity to own a piece of streetwear history without the hefty price tag.

By following these budget-friendly tips and hacks, you can build a streetwear wardrobe that is both stylish and affordable, proving that you don't need deep pockets to make a statement in the fashion world.




Frequently Asked Questions


How can I incorporate streetwear into a professional wardrobe?

Answer: To incorporate streetwear into a professional wardrobe, try pairing a tailored blazer with a graphic tee and smart trousers, or combine a collared shirt with streetwear trainers for a balanced business-casual look.

What are some affordable ways to build a streetwear wardrobe?

Answer: To build an affordable streetwear wardrobe, invest in versatile basics, shop during sales and discounts, explore resale platforms like Depop and Grailed, and consider customizing or upcycling existing garments for a unique look.

How do I style streetwear for a night out?

Answer: For a night out, elevate your streetwear look by pairing a graphic tee with a leather jacket and statement accessories, or dress up a hoodie with tailored trousers and smart shoes.

What are some emerging UK streetwear brands to watch?

Answer: Some up-and-coming UK streetwear brands to keep an eye on include Double Up, a London-based label known for its bold designs and commitment to authenticity, and Represent, a Manchester-born brand that blends streetwear and luxury aesthetics.

How can I tell if a streetwear piece is authentic?

Answer: To ensure a streetwear piece is authentic, look for official branding, tags, and labels, and purchase from reputable retailers or resale platforms that verify the authenticity of their products. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

By Ali Barouti