All the recognizable powerhouse luxury fashion brands that are pioneers of the fashion industry have shaped how we perceive fashion marketing. These brands started by developing a business model that’s all about cultivating clientele primarily focused on fabric quality and innovative design.
They created a fashion community that’s largely female and comprised of socialites and gatekeepers who understood the value of quality and art in fashion. Rightfully so, fashion has always put artistic aesthetics and fabric quality over branding and marketing. However, that narrative changed when streetwear came to the fore.
The Rise of Streetwear
Streetwear today is at its apex, but where did it come from and how did it become such a major cultural force?
Streetwear, as the name implies, has its foundations in street culture. It started in Californian surf and skate culture with simple offerings such as hoodies, crewneck tees, hats, and t-shirts. In fact, the graphic t-shirt itself became the official calling card of any streetwear brand, particularly the logo tee which remains the unofficial symbol of streetwear.
Streetwear would take on urban undertones as hip-hop became a pivotal element in its development. Combining vintage luxury, sportswear and outdoor apparel gave birth to a raw and anti-conformist aesthetic that continues to be a part of streetwear identity today.
The first streetwear brands had a clear message; streetwear is a flexible fashion genre that could be distinctly attached to any lifestyle; be that skate, hip-hop, Americana, punk, grudge, or even military inspired. It's a fashion genre that invites the consumer to partake in an exchange of ideas; co-creating fashion styles based on genuine cultural ideas. It's a community and an amalgamation of urban subcultures and realities. It's a subversive and post-modern phenomenon that's defined by simplicity, idea-sharing, coherence, art, and past times.
New sub-genres of streetwear started to emerge during the mid to late 90s, merging punk, skate culture, and hip-hop lifestyles to produce what we now know as streetwear. One of the biggest differences between streetwear and high fashion is that streetwear has always catered to middle-class and lower-income neighborhoods, having emerged from these communities.
You see, streetwear started as a culture of rebellion and nonconformity, a fringe movement that stood against what luxury fashion represents entirely. In fact, streetwear culture was originally looked down upon and menswear in particular was considered an afterthought.
Of course, it doesn’t help that most streetwear brands got their start by targeting male consumers around the ages of 16 to 25. Most of these consumers just so happened to be a part of counterculture movements that would never get picked up by major retail stores.
However, streetwear brands started gaining a foothold around the 2000s when they changed their marketing strategy to that of total scarcity. This, combined with being associated with some of the biggest hip-hop and rock artists of the time, elevated streetwear to legendary status.
Streetwear brands would build “hype” around the products by only catering to about 10% of the demand, thus cultivating peak exclusivity. Back then, it was impossible to purchase streetwear items unless you lived close to a store. This marketing tactic only served to increase demand while creating a cult-like following for streetwear that would eventually get noticed by the luxury fashion industry itself.
In time, streetwear ultimately surpassed traditional luxury fashion by expressing ideas that target Millennials while using the same quality garments as luxury fashion houses to produce limited edition items that would sell out in minutes.
Using apps like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, streetwear brands like Black Rooster have been able to bridge the gap between clothing genres while creating a space to relate to others living with similar struggles. Brands like these prove that clothes can be used as a sort of collage of one's personality; a way to champion political movements or logical ethos beyond hashtags and marches.
What Makes Streetwear Unique
Streetwear has endured by staying true to what it is and what it represents. It's a fashion movement that has always been spearheaded by young people, and it's rooted in innovation and serving as a timeless time capsule to previous and current subcultures.
It's an expression of a lifestyle; whether it's a skater that is attracted to clothes that are easy to skate in or a surfer that likes to express their passion for 90s hip-hop culture; streetwear clothes give a voice to a mix of lifestyles and the angst of counterculture.
To Wrap Up
The origins of streetwear were always about non-conformity and represented a step away from the etiquette of the high fashion world. Who would’ve guessed then that something as simple as graphic tees and hoodies would eventually be sold as frequently in the same retailers as major luxury fashion brands?
Today, streetwear is about art and self-expression. It's all about wearing what you like and showing the world who you are. Long before hypebeast culture, t-shirts, and exclusivity; streetwear encapsulated a type of fashion spearheaded by the young in response to an industry that largely ignored them when it came to style and culture.
Current streetwear culture continues that legacy by allowing brands and consumers to evolve culture through the sharing of ideas while promoting unique self-expression.
Join the movement with a Black Rooster tee and be part of a brand that aims to empower a community that played an integral role in the creation and rise of streetwear clothing.