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The dictionary definition of Streetwear is simple: stylish, casual clothing. Its roots lie in the counterculture of the 1980s and 90s, including graffiti, hip-hop, skateboarding and surfing.
The dictionary definition of Streetwear is simple: stylish, casual clothing. But that definition understates what has become a multibillion-dollar retail phenomenon with roots in the counterculture of the 1980s and 90s, including graffiti, hip-hop, skateboarding and surfing.
In essence, streetwear involves the production, promotion, sale and resale of casual fashion, primarily footwear such as sneakers, but also T-shirts and other items - in a way that bypasses traditional retail channels and often disrupts fashion The way the industry has evolved has long defined and dictated how "cool" can be profitable. The audience and target market are very young: most are under 30.
The community that initially pioneered streetwear was predominantly male-dominated, so the style was originally adopted and driven by men, portraying a traditionally masculine look. At first, streetwear was simple, an antidote to the refined, sophisticated styles that were in vogue at the time. The formula is simple: people wear T-shirts and hoodies because that's what they like. This uniform is all about comfort and self-expression.
Pioneers of the movement include James Jebbia, founder of skateboard brand Supreme, and Shawn Stussy, founder of surf brand Stüssy. Back in Harlem, New York, in the 1980s, designer Dapper Dan played a key role in elevating streetwear to luxury, creating styles for hip-hop artists then shunned by traditional luxury brands.
While the movement originated in California and New York, other early adopters, such as Hiroshi Fujiwara and Nigo, were influential DJs and designers who pioneered Japanese street style and hip-hop in the 1980s. Like other major cultural movements, streetwear has emerged rapidly and in tandem in major cities and regions around the world.
And, like any major cultural movement, streetwear didn't emerge out of thin air. Streetwear should be seen not as a trend in the fashion world, but as an offshoot of a larger shift that empowers popular culture across fashion, art, and music, and is largely driven by black culture.
Hip-hop and rap likewise promote an original musical form motivated by breaking the rules and finding art and sound in unconventional ways. Streetwear is similar to an artist's street art or a hip-hop artist's lyrics: pick a spot and leave a signature.
This level of authenticity is unmatched elsewhere in the fashion industry, which typically operates through top-down effects. Insiders act as gatekeepers for the latest styles and trends. Streetwear upends that formula in a more democratic fashion.
When it comes to streetwear, fashion leaders don't just take inspiration from street style, they also take inspiration directly from their audience. Consumers, like those in the industry, have the right to decide what's cool. The influence of traditional fashion institutions - such as print publications and respected editors - has diminished, while the opinions of general audiences have increasingly mattered.
Streetwear's staying power comes from combining original codes of luxury fashion with something new. The results of our consumer survey show that a majority (70%) of consumer respondents love streetwear because it's cool, while more than half (57%) cite comfortable clothing as a key factor. Additionally, nearly half (46%) value exclusivity, while about a quarter value status symbols (27%) and community (24%).
While brands' cool, uniqueness and status symbols have long been integral to fashion, streetwear has introduced new key ingredients: comfortable clothing and community. Meanwhile, the drive toward exclusivity in streetwear has been driven more by know-how than by the financial ability to buy. For brands, tapping into this crowd mentality constitutes the highest barrier to entry.
Every streetwear brand derives its value from a range of sources, including product quality and design, celebrity following, musicians and artists. But, arguably, no factor is considered more important than authenticity, which is gained through direct association with the customers who buy the product.
Most major fashion brands, both luxury and mass market, are shifting strategies to incorporate streetwear. In fact, 76% of respondents to our global industry survey of fashion and retail executives said they believed streetwear would continue to grow significantly over the next five years. In fact, 76% of respondents to our recently completed global survey of fashion and retail executives said they believe streetwear will continue to grow significantly over the next five years.
What started as a niche culture – literally putting a logo on a T-shirt – has become a major force in the fashion industry, adopted by all genders, from luxury brands to mall brands.
The current state of streetwear can be defined in four key ways:
The original streetwear brand is characterized by accessible prices, comfort and authenticity. At the core of these brands is the very immediate motivation of putting words on t-shirts. These brands include established brands such as Supreme, BAPE and Stüssy, as well as newcomers such as Palace. Products from these brands are often resold at premium prices due to scarcity and high demand.
Sportswear brands include leading sports brands whose activewear and sneaker offerings are an integral part of street style. Sneakers from brands like Adidas and Nike are the cornerstone of streetwear uniforms.
Adopted streetwear brands have incorporated streetwear trends and styles into their products, but their brand origins have no real connection to the streetwear movement. This can include similar luxury and mass market brands.
Luxury streetwear reflects the recent emergence of brands that blur the lines between original streetwear and luxury fashion. These brands also strive for authenticity, but at a higher price point, unlike standard streetwear.
The above introduces the history and definition of streetwear. If you want to order streetwear and start your streetwear journey, please contact us.
RAINBOWTOUCHES is a professional custom streetwear manufacturer with 15 years of experience. It mainly produces and sells casual men's and women's wear, fashion brands and sportswear, with the brand characteristics of casual, avant-garde, comfortable and fashionable. We take "customer first, quality as culture" as our business principle. We have always attached great importance to every customer, and regard producing and designing exquisite products as our basic purpose and core purpose. The company adheres to a belief: to lead the fashion trend with the company brand.