The Streetwear Impact Report began with a simple idea: defining streetwear. Still a relatively new market, in-depth reporting and analysis around streetwear were limited. Through a close collaboration between HYPEBEAST and Strategy&, PwC’s consulting firm, we set out to bridge that gap in information.

In essence, streetwear involves the production, promotion, sale and resale of casual fashion, principally of footwear, such as sneakers, but also T-shirts and other items – in ways that bypass traditional retail channels, often subverting the way the fashion industry has long defined and dictated how “cool” is made profitable. The audience, and therefore the target market, is very young: mostly under 25.

The communities that originally led streetwear were largely male dominated, and as such the style was originally adopted and driven by men, depicting traditionally masculine looks. In the beginning, streetwear was simple and an antidote to the elaborate, complicated styles that were in fashion at the time. The formula was straightforward: people wore T-shirts and hoodies because that’s what they liked. This uniform was tied to both comfort and self-expression.

Pioneers of the movement include James Jebbia, founder of skate brand Supreme, and Shawn Stussy, founder of surf brand Stüssy. Designer Dapper Dan played a pivotal role in elevating streetwear to luxury as early as the 1980’s out of Harlem, New York, creating styles for hip-hop artists who were shunned by traditional luxury brands at the time.

While the movement has roots in California and New York, other early adopters like Hiroshi Fujiwara and Nigo, both influential DJs and designers, were largely responsible for pioneering the street style and hip-hop scene in Japan in the 1980s. Like other major cultural movements, streetwear quickly rose simultaneously in major cities and regions throughout the globe.

The term streetwear is actually quite a common term in the modern fashion world. It refers to a distinctive style of street fashion, which has its roots in Californian and skate culture, but also encompasses elements of hip-hop fashion, modern high fashion and haute couture.

But where did streetwear actually originate? With modern fashion branching off into so many different and distinctive subgenres, it can be difficult to distinguish the fads from the mainstays.

Punk, Surf and Skate Culture

Although it is speculated as to when streetwear originated, and how it actually came about, it is thought to have started as early as the late 1970s. This was an exciting time, with the emergence of punk rock and very early hip-hop. As such, streetwear brands of the late 70s and 1980s borrowed heavily from the ‘do it yourself’ aesthetic of punk, new wave and heavy-metal cultures.
Many surfers and skaters also adopted this DIY approach, producing their own branded surfboards and cool T-shirts with their own designs. The most notable of the DIY T-shirt pioneers was surfboard designer Shawn Stussy, who began selling printed T-shirts featuring the same trademark signature that he placed on his own custom surfboards. As Stussy became more of a popular cult icon, the popularity of his surfboards and clothing also rose.

How to Style Streetwear

So how do you catalogue something that is constantly changing and evolving by its very nature? Since streetwear is such a fluid genre of clothing, it can be difficult to decide which specific pieces belong to it. A few general things can be said of streetwear, however. It is often built around casual clothing and comfortable basic items such as jeans and T shirts, as well as hoodies and sneakers.

And in addition to harkening back to early skateboarding, surfing and hip-hop culture, streetwear clothing is often influenced by 1980s nostalgia too, so vintage t-shirts, 80s inspired tees and logos won’t look out of place as part of an urban ensemble.

So, if you want to make the switch from urbane to full-on urban, and throw yourself into the awesome, vibrant world of streetwear, then read on.

A little bit of History – Streetwear Fashion

Streetwear has its roots in Skateboarding culture. It was during the 1980s that the streetwear fashion started being a style movement. Shaun Stussy, a surfer from Laguna Beach in California, first created one of the well-known streetwear brands at the start of the 1980s from the back of his car. Big fashion labels started to take notice of its popularity by the 1990s. Streetwear fashion moved from the fringes to the mainstream.

Many brands emerged. Japanese streetwear designers catering to the Japanese pop culture created a lot of designs in this line and have had a major influence in many of its designs. By the later 1990s, streetwear emerged as a fashion movement in Europe and America.

Many hits and misses later Streetwear fashion today is an international movement encompassing fashion elements that are quite unique to itself and all-encompassing of other fashion styles like hip hop, punk etc.

Functionality is big with all clothing in this segment, as is comfort. 

Streetwear has come a long way from the 1980s. The arrival of ‘Limited Edition’ streetwear brands gives exclusivity in all the madness that is in this street-level dressing. Celebrities in the music industry and Social media influencers collaborates with big brands to make Streetwear more coveted.

Streetwear is constantly evolving and hence it is difficult to pinpoint this fashion, exactly. Those who adopt this style is big on individuality so cornering the style into a segment is impossible.

But as in any style, streetwear fashion also some types of clothing that that whole style is centered on. These pieces can be put together in different ways to develop your own individual style.

7 commonly seen clothing/accessories in streetwear fashion

1 T-shirts

What is Streetwear Fashion ? 7 musts haves if you want to adopt this style

Cannot imagine street style without them – The T-shirts may be Plain or Printed. The printed ones have vibrant coloured artwork, slogans, graffiti. Loose fitting or even baggy t-shirts or fitting t-shirts under jackets are included. Depending on the fashion, the t-shirts maybe short or can even go up to the knees as in longline t-shirt. Black, grey and white are the preferred colors

For girls, this translates to tank tops and even crop tops

2 Jeans

What is Streetwear Fashion ? 7 musts haves if you want to adopt this style

Dark blue raw denim jeans is a good start in bottom wear. Ripped jeans, jeans that have gone through many types of washes, etc are all included in street style.Those with lots of functional pockets are preferred.

A Skinny fit is a staple. The tapered style of jeans has been a favourite from the start of this fashion style and that has not changed

Denim jeans shorts with shredded/fringed edges are streetwear for girls.

3 Sweatpants/joggers

Dropped crotch baggy pants are what I see as popular now in this category

What is Streetwear Fashion ? 7 musts haves if you want to adopt this style

For girls, leggings will do, in place of sweatpants.

4 Casual Jackets

What is Streetwear Fashion ? 7 musts haves if you want to adopt this style

Fashion changes the style of jackets – Long jackets in wool are preferred but this may change today, tomorrow. Denim jackets and wool duster coats, leather jackets in casual fit are all good.  Boys have their military style jackets which are cool and timeless. Bomber jackets, Biker jackets, all are streetwear cool.

5 Pullover Hoodies

What is Streetwear Fashion ? 7 musts haves if you want to adopt this style

This is one clothing that you cannot imagine being without in a streetwear wardrobe

For girls, this is boyfriend hoodies/sweatshirts.

6 Sneakers

What is Streetwear Fashion ? 7 musts haves if you want to adopt this style

Sneakers are the preferred footwear for this style and among them, white is the preferred colour

Ankle boots are another preference for footwear

7 Headwear

What is Streetwear Fashion ? 7 musts haves if you want to adopt this style

Beanies, Baseball caps (Dad hats), bandanas – streetwear takes them all

For Outfit ideas in Streetwear fashion check out the Streetwear fashion board in Pinterest or the streetwear subreddit here.

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