There was a time when fashion was about finding the best handmade garments crafted by the most reputable names in the industry. This is how many high-fashion brands established themselves as master craft artisans and became household names.
While there was a time when craftsmanship, materials, and art mattered in fashion, there's no denying that streetwear has completely taken over. Although often plagued by misconceptions of hypebeast culture, streetwear offers one thing that high-end fashion doesn’t: accessibility and exclusivity. This leads to extreme brand loyalty where customers clamor to acquire notoriously limited tees, hoodies, and hats that turn into one-of-a-kind collector's items.
For early streetwear adopters, wearing something with a distinct logo meant that you were a part of something unique; a community of "cool kids" that the industry didn't quite understand. Streetwear started out as a middle finger to the fashion industry until all of the pioneers of streetwear grew up, made money, and acquired access to more influence. Let's take a walk down memory lane and explore the rise of streetwear.
Streetwear started as a counterculture fashion movement that was meant to give a voice to fringe culture movements such as skate, surf, and hip-hop culture. From the beginning, it was always about creating limited-edition items that give the wearer a feeling of exclusivity and belonging.
By making sure that exclusive drops could only happen in-store and limiting the number of items that one could buy, streetwear brands basically created the marketing phenomenon known as "hype" or "hypebeast."
This spurned the evolution of streetwear as more than just a rebellion but an exclusive aspect of fashion that catered to the dominant subculture of the late '90s and early '00s. This then led to the creation of a secondary market of resellers who would time "drops" or new product releases and even use bots to retrieve multiple items.
Streetwear as an Investment
Reselling has played a huge role in propelling streetwear into mainstream culture. It has now become normalized for customers to pay resale prices for streetwear items, making streetwear garments a lucrative investment for sellers. Seeing this, large companies in the luxury fashion sector are now collaborating with streetwear brands in order to capture the sector's growing clientele.
Well-known luxury fashion brands are copying the same exclusive release system in order to hypersell to consumers, thus confirming that streetwear has, in a real sense, surpassed the gatekeepers of luxury fashion that once scoffed at this counterculture movement.
Streetwear as Art
In streetwear, name recognition is everything, as knowing who's hot and who's next is vital to keeping up with trends. But, more than that, streetwear is a form of art.
Nowadays, we have brands such as Black Rooster that bridge the gap between streetwear and high fashion. By using the same fabrics and craftsmanship as luxury fashion houses while following the tried and true limited-release marketing strategy, these brands are further breaking the barriers set by fashion elitists who once looked at streetwear as a fleeting movement.
Streetwear as Subculture
Although streetwear has its roots in so-called fringe movements like skate culture, surf culture, and the hip-hop lifestyle, its collaboration with influencers and celebrities on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook has carried streetwear into the mainstream. Now, the overall image of what used to be just a simple graphic tee is now being taken seriously by high-end designers.
I mean, who would've thought that brands like Gucci and Versace could ever emblazon their logos on t-shirts and hoodies? Yet, these are their biggest-selling items in today's market.
Not only have high-fashion brands adopted streetwear style but they've also adopted the genre's storytelling method. Keep in mind that narrative is what propelled streetwear into the juggernaut it is today. It's what compelled customers to stand outside brick-and-mortar stores for hours waiting for a limited-edition release to come out. It's what drives resellers to scale their operations so they can cater to the ever-growing demand for "more" and "newer".
By targeting the rebels and anti-conformists, streetwear brands all pursue the same idea of an anti-conformity lifestyle; a counterculture that is more than just about labels but a by-product of young people experimenting with different styles and clothing choices.
Streetwear culture is a dialogue between designers and consumers, a product of street culture and the ideas that emanate from it.
To Wrap Up
Streetwear has come a long way. What was once lifestyle clothing that's rooted in urban subcultures is now a fluid form of fashion with a raw motif that can be adopted and incorporated into other fashion genres such as luxury fashion. Nowadays, streetwear is all about being fashion-forward. However, it's important to remember that at its root, streetwear is a form of lifestyle clothing that first emerged from the streets, hence its name "streetwear".
That's why it's so refreshing to see brands like Black Rooster that continue to stay true to the origins of streetwear. Not only do they prioritize garment quality, but their aesthetic harkens back to a time when streetwear was all about self-expression, art, and most importantly "being different".
Owning a Black Rooster item is about more than just owning a limited-edition tee, but is about moving fashion forward, creating a community, and relating to consumers in a new way. If you like interesting clothing, grab a Black Rooster tee and express the ideas that you're most passionate about.