Anyone who’s walked down Haight Street in San Francisco (or any other trendy shopping hub for that matter) cannot help but notice the numerous display windows showcasing the latest streetwear trends. These boutiques carry some of the most exclusive streetwear brands within their walls. What makes these brands so appealing to youth these days? According to Jessica Pallay’s interviews with streetwear designers in “A Crowded Street as Streetwear is Disseminated into the Mainstream, What will Become of an Underground Movement”, consumers are drawn to the exclusivity of the products. These streetwear brands were influenced by various youth movements, such as hip-hop, punk, skating, etc. Frank Sinatra Jr., President of streetwear brand Stussy, stated, “The heart of the streetwear market is in authenticity and history. You have to have a cultural context to be valid in the street. Streetwear is all about the story behind the trend, behind the brand, behind the garment” (Pallay 4). These clothes are not just meant to be trendy or cool. They embody a culture. Most of these brands do very little advertising. These brands gets around through word of mouth and by those who are immersed in the streetwear community. However, like many underground movements, these trends eventually make their way toward mainstream culture or the “trend demographic”.
The exclusivity of each piece makes them more desirable and special, which is probably why many young people are attracted to these brands. They want to be able to stand out in their fashion. The New York Times published an article on these exclusive streetwear brands titled “When the Runway is Paved” by Ruth La Ferla. She interviewed the manager of Union, a steetwear shop in New York. Wilkins Frias said, “In this market, it’s all about exclusivity. The element of uniqueness is really important. What we want is an artist’s piece. It has to have an image, but at the same time not look ostentatious” (La Ferla 2006).
I have an admiration for streetwear clothing because I see it as a response to the big, mainstream labels out there. Some of these designers even spoof the logos of designers such as Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. These t-shirts for example, are sold by the streetwear brands Subconscious Threads and Dissizit!
The streetwear clothing movement gives independent designers an outlet to showcase their designs. I hope it sticks around because it fosters a lot of creativity and can even serve as an inspiration for anyone to start designing their own clothes.
Melaniy Santa Ana
Jessica Pallay. “A Crowded Street as Streetwear is Disseminated into the Mainstream, What will Become of an
Underground Movement.” Class Reader.
La Ferla, Ruth. When the Runway is Paved." New York Times 21 Dec 2006.
Picture 1(L): http://www.karmaloop.com/products.aspx?ProductID=65965&VendorCode=DSS
Picture 2(R): http://www.karmaloop.com/kazbah-products.asp?ProductID=63766&VendorCode=SUBKB