Streetwear Fashion. Thank You, Next!
Updated: May 6
Can we rejoice now?
That’s probably the reactions of some people who was never keen on the trend to begin with, and that includes me (Especially during my days of living in Europe, boots over sneakers any day, thanks.)
In the world of luxury fashion, it was once a groundbreaking creative force from designers of the luxury houses such as Riccardo Tisci at (then) Givenchy and Kim Jones at (then) Louis Vuitton menswear. Then you have flourishing brands such as Virgil Abloh’s Off-White, and even industry-shaker Vetements who successfully created a fashion mindfuck the die-hard fashion hypebeasts and the thirsty warriors of the Instagram generation worship. Season after season, streetwear continues to reign supreme for few seasons both in menswear and womenswear.
[Street style outside Milan Fashion Week venue]
There are actual streetwear labels who are the OGs; from Stussy, Carhartt, to Supreme, who have established themselves as such since 200 BC (lol). But this trend turns these brands, most notably for Supreme, to become the new IT fashion brands and received an elevated level of relevancy.
The success of streetwear comes also with a particular system of product launch. The product drop means that the pieces are launched at one particular time, at an almost unannounced manner. This ‘unpredictable’ way of launching creates an illusion of scarcity, and scarcity creates desire. This is a concept that fashion houses adopt for some exclusive pieces, such as Burberry under Riccardo Tisci.
[Queue outside of Supreme store. Credit : Alamy]
Suddenly, all we see is aesthetically-questionable fonts over hoodies and chunky sneakers on Paris Fashion Week (read my 2017 article about that here!), and sneakers become the new It bags of fashion. Giant house like Louis Vuitton even managed to tap on a collaboration with the streetwear icon, Supreme, for one of the most talked-about and perhaps sought-after collections of that time. (Sidenote; a hypebeast friend-of-a-friend whom i haven’t spoken to for ages even reached out to me asking if i had any connection in Paris on how to get the elusive pieces. I said heck no).
[Backstage at Louis Vuitton menswear by Kim Jones, featuring Supreme collaboration]
[Rihanna in Gucci tracksuit by Alessandro Michele]
[Balenciaga Triple S sneakers]
However, the most recent fashion shows suggested that it really might be the end. of it as we are witnessing less and less hoodies-and-big-chunky-sneakers, to almost none. Since 2018, it actually has been predicted that the streetwear fascination time is about to be up. Here we are in 2019, and we are seeing less and less streetwear pieces, and with some valid reasons.
No more grounds to break
How many hoodies and ‘ugly sneakers’ can we see on the runway? First time around, it might seem fresh, and to think of all the buzz the brand could get, sending unconventional pieces to shake up the establishment was certainly worth it. The problem is, today, streetwear IS the establishment. At this point, fashion designers probably already realized that they need to stop being lazy and present something that truly showcase their talent, something with actual elements of design and craft.
In an interview with i-D at the backstage of his Spring-Summer 2019 menswear show, Belgian designer Raf Simons even blatantly stated that people need to move on from the streetwear phenomenon. “We need a new outline, a new shape..Of course I was part of it myself, but there are too many hoodies with prints out there. Something needs to shift." And his shift began that very season.
[Balenciaga jersey cotton hoodie, retail for $895. Credit: Selfridges]
While the rise of streetwear have gained serious following, it also lacked in one very crucial key; community. Streetwear itself started as comfortable, practical clothing that are pretty much ‘against’ high fashion. Mainly worn by skaters, surfers, and the Hip-Hop communities, it certainly has a strong sense of community that have built the identity of the brand in the first place, and have bought the products for decades.
“Community matters. Brands like Stüssy and BAPE and Carhartt will never go away because they’ve built a community with the people who buy their product.” Said Chris Morency, editor-at-large at Highsnobiety, as quoted by Fashion Beans. Damn right! These fashion-streetwear wannabes don’t have one thing that the OGs have: communities that backed them up. People who are following the hype is there for a reason, well, the hype. Once it’s gone they will most likely be gone for good.
Growing Up Beasts
Spring-Summer 2019 menswear have shown a different approach in menswear. Options such as classical tailoring have been seen everywhere. Even those who introduced streetwear to fashion, such as Kim Jones who now hold the position as Creative Director at Dior Homme, and Virgil Abloh who leads Louis Vuitton menswear, showcased a rather grown-up collection. An invitation for the boys to put away their sweatpants and hoodies, and dress up for a professional life.
[Off-White Mens Spring Summer 2015 lookbook by Virgil Abloh]
[Off-White Mens Fall Winter 2019 by Virgil Abloh]
The most talked-about debut this menswear season was Hedi Slimane for Celine, shaking up the industry again by presenting the first ever menswear collection for the house. Mr. Slimane did not invent anything new, but in his collection, streetwear doesn’t have any place.
Don’t expect these sartorial options are meant to be made for your granddads. They are, in fact, adapted to appeal to the younger generation. Why? Well, because millennials are still THAT important for luxury, and millennials won’t hang around town in hoodies and sweatpants all their life, will they?
[Celine Mens Fall Winter 2019 by Hedi Slimane]
[Dior Hommer Fall Winter 2019 by Kim Jones. Credit: Brett Lloyd]
So, what’s next for streetwear? It is not completely dead as of today, though. Take example of Burberry, for example. Ever since Riccardo Tisci (who made Givenchy street again, once upon a time) took the creative direction, the legendary British house released exclusive pieces that looks very streetwear-ish; T-shirts for $390 and jersey sweatshirts with its Thomas Burberry monogram, launched to the public with a “drop”- a concept, again, borrowed from streetwear. From the 17th of every month, the brand will drop new pieces every month, and will available only for 24 hours.
However, Millennials eventually grow up, and with that, comes more responsibility. They will be more cautious in their spending and certainly won’t let luxury brands to bait them into buying overpriced items.
I believe the presence of the streetwear trend, as much as i loathed it, truly was necessary for fashion. At the end, it is about moving forward with something fresh, and if it has to integrate everything under the sun, including streetwear, so be it.
Inspiration does not have to be translated in a literal sense. By that, streetwear will continue to inspire fashion in some way, and perhaps it will create a hybrid style that would go well with all the classical tailoring. Who knows? It’s fashion, and that’s why we love it.
As for me, I’m excited for the coats, the tailoring, the trousers and the loafers this season has offered. Bring me elegance any day! It was sweet to see you in fashion, streetwear, but i sure am looking forward for a new day with something else on the horizon.
Cue Ariana's song.