For decades you could draw a clear line between “fashion” and “streetwear.”
Fashion included designs created in a studio and worn as popular or sometimes exclusive trends. Streetwear was born from grassroots culture, often meshing numerous elements beyond just clothing - skateboards, backpacks, sports gear, among many other accessories and elements of cities and streets.
But today many powerful and expressive looks are grounded in fashion that emerged from streetwear culture. Let's look back on the origins of streetwear to pay homage to those who helped it evolve.
When we hear the term “streetwear,” we often think of casual and comfortable pieces such as jeans, tees, sneakers, and caps. While it includes all of those things, it’s also much more.
From New York to LA, London to Paris, Japan to Hong Kong, and even Italy where traditional studio fashion is still prominent, streetwear has undergone a significant revolution since growing into a global phenomenon over the last 50 years.
While the concept of streetwear means different things to different cultures, one major thread grew from early elements of Southern California skate and surf culture in the 1970s.
Shawn Stussy was a surfboard designer and manufacturer who began writing his last name on handcrafted boards with a thick marker.
With its stylized appeal, he began duplicating it across shorts, hats, and t-shirts which he sold out of his car in Laguna Beach. By the 1980s, he would go on to expand into Europe as well as New York City in Soho.
In time, lifestyle-based prints would become a staple of streetwear that evoked similar feelings to those of high-end luxury brands.
It was not long until this type of unique lifestyle and culture-driven look would find its unique voice across sportswear, hip hop, punk, and more.
In the 1980s, as brands such as Kangol and Adidas integrated sportswear looks with hip hop, new styles were created. Rising global superstar and global icon Michael Jordan would forever change the way that streetwear was worn: no longer a sidekick to traditional fashion, but rather an equal if not dominant force.
And in the 1990s, this trend only continued further. In 1993 Nigo (Tomoaki Nagao) founded A Bathing Ape in Ura-Harajuku, a district of Tokyo. In 1994 James Jebbia would found Supreme in New York City, with the first store opening in an old building on Lafayette Street.
These street inspired brands continue to be at the forefront of culture. We're excited about the continued innovation and expression ahead.