If you are planning to start your streetwear brand, the first step will be to know and select the type of streetwear style you want to be known for.
Streetwear has been around for decades and has rapidly evolved to become one of the most popular and recognizable styles in the fashion world today.
While the style originated from the hoods and was later popularized by rappers, its influence has now extended to luxury fashion houses.
Social media has made it easier for young brands to get noticed and starting a streetwear brand could be a great way to get into the fashion world.
By identifying your target market, analyzing their needs, and creating a unique brand image, you can create a streetwear brand that stands out from the competition and resonates with your customers.
In this article, we outline the popular subgenres of streetwear clothing and brands that can hopefully inspire you to create your own streetwear brand.
Table of Contents
What Is Streetwear?
Streetwear stands for more than pricey t-shirts with big logos, oversized hoodies, and $400 sneakers.
The fashion industry describes it as fashionable casual apparel with popular cultural influences worn by young fashionistas belonging to a certain subculture group and residing in urban regions.
Streetwear combines everything you see out there. Although its definition is subjective, streetwear is mainly inspired by music, sports, haute couture and subculture.
The client base for streetwear is wide, encompassing people from all socioeconomic backgrounds who live around the world.
1- Skater Streetwear
It is simple to see how the worldwide skateboarding scene has contributed to the success of this genre.
California, the birthplace of skater culture, is where this look originated. Surfers created skating as a substitute for riding waves when there weren’t any.
The skater style was first influenced by the American surfer style’s laid-back and casual lifestyle.
Although skater fashion has evolved since then, it continues to be distinctly characterized by the underlying ideas of creativity, risk, freedom and a carefree attitude.
Summertime is the source of inspiration for some of the most authentic skate fashion, with its most popular accessories being wide shorts, Vans sneakers, graphic tees, and baseball hats.
Their take on the skater style has won them a strong base of fans of this iconic streetwear subculture.
2- Preppy Streetwear
It’s no secret that streetwear labels have leaned into more formal aesthetics lately.
First inspired by the traditional uniforms of America’s Ivy League schools, this subgenre consists of slim-fitting pastel shirts, chinos, blazers, and sweaters that can be wrapped around your shoulders.
This style has introduced more dressed-up looks, pairing the classic cardigans, polo shirts, suits, and tailored slacks paired with contemporary elements like joggers and sneakers.
3- Sportswear Inspired Streetwear (aka Athleisure)
Athletic wear has been one of the biggest inspirations for the contemporary streetwear style that many know today, in large part driven by its accessible price point and its focus on comfort. Today, the terms sportswear and streetwear are often used interchangeably.
These athletic wear companies have used the athleisure trend to diversify their product lines beyond running shoes and sportswear.
Brands like Nike and Adidas have turned fashionable athletic shoes into one of the most expensive items in streetwear, giving them tremendous financial clout.
T-shirts, gym vests, hats, joggers, yoga pants, and gym bags are all items that have assimilated into streetwear aesthetics and can be used to seamlessly transition between workout wear and daily casual wear.
Besides the big sportswear companies, other streetwear brands, such as Sporty & Rich, Lululemon, and Girlfriend Collective, are leading the way in developing athleisure-inspired fashion, including athletic apparel, accessories, and fashion trends.
Combining tank tops, leggings, and other clothing pieces results in the current athleisure look.
By using this, you can live an active and laid-back lifestyle at the same time while still feeling and looking fantastic in your attire.
4- Hip-Hop Streetwear
The hip-hop culture is one of the earliest influences on streetwear. Originating from the streets back in the 70s, hip-hop fashion was brought to life through the spirit of mixing and matching outfits based on whatever was accessible for block parties.
With hip-hop music growing in its popularity in the 80s and 90s and the introduction of MTV, the genre was soon catapulted onto the international stage and rapidly embraced by young people from all around the world, spiking a huge interest in the fashion industry for its iconic style.
Rappers such as Run DMC and NWA wore it long before most magazines and fashion experts claimed that the term “streetwear culture” even existed.
Loose clothes, baggy jeans, Adidas tracksuits, baseball hats, and gold chains characterized the early hip-hop streetwear aesthetics.
Throughout the years, the hip-hop style has evolved with the likes of Pharrell Williams and Kayne West pushing boundaries with their legendary collaborations with Bape and Adidas for Yeezy.
5- Luxury Streetwear
This style is best described as combining designer logos, luxury materials, and detailing with classic streetwear essentials, such as graphic t-shirts and sweatpants.
Hip-hop celebrities, such as Migos, A$AP Rocky, Kanye West, and others, aggressively promote this genre, with many publicly endorsing their favorite high-end streetwear brands and designers, such as Rick Owens and Raf Simons.
There is no shortage of runway inspiration for streetwear these days, thanks to new brands like Vetements, and 1017 ALYX 9SM, and fashion houses like Louis Vuitton and Gucci that have embraced the streetwear movement.
Its genuineness is another crucial factor that has allowed the luxury streetwear trend to gain more popularity.
Most streetwear buyers cannot invest hundreds or thousands of dollars on premium fashion labels.
Luxury brands collaborating with streetwear brands offer wallet-friendly options for buyers to enjoy the prestige of luxury brands, while not diminishing their brand value.
6- Military-Inspired Streetwear
Military uniforms have always served as a basis of inspiration for design, particularly in menswear. Think camouflage patterns, parkas, khaki pants, and combat boots.
These outfits are made to be durable and comfortable, with utilitarian features that make them practical for the ever-evolving urban environment.
The fabrics and construction used in uniforms are made to last, making them a better alternative to fast fashion pieces, which is why military surplus items are still coveted by the streetwear market.
A unique element of the military-inspired style is its close association with the youth culture and its use of it to spread messages or advocate for a cause.
7- Sustainable Streetwear
Sustainability is one of the most prominent movements shaping the fashion industry today as consumers grow increasingly conscious of the impact of their fashion choices on the environment. This has in turn led to a rise in sustainable streetwear brands.
These brands make intentional efforts to use fair trade suppliers, and organic and recycled materials to manufacture their garments and packaging.
They also use sustainable inks and dyes and focus on creating better quality garments with materials that deteriorate slower.
This helps extend the garment’s life so it can be worn for much longer, as compared to fast-fashion products which use cheap, low-quality materials like polyester, causing clothes to degrade after just a few wears and get thrown away.
Sustainable streetwear has allowed brand owners to run an ethical business while also capturing the latest trends in the fashion scene.
Techwear is a modern fashion movement that focuses on style, technological innovation, and functionality and has lately grown in popularity.
By designing basic items with advanced technical materials and modern color schemes, it combines both form and function to elevate garments like cargo pants and jackets with practical features.
Athletic and outdoor clothes inspire these articles’ functionality, with techwear originally designed to improve performance and comfort in different climates or situations.
Common features of tech wear include water & wind resistance, comfort, breathability, movement, and even designs that are made lighter or more durable.
Due to its emphasis on using premium materials, advanced construction techniques, usability, and a clean yet modern design, techwear tends to be expensive.
However, by concentrating on a monochromatic palette with techwear-inspired elements (sealed waterproof zippers, water-resistant fabrics), you can create techwear outfits at lower price points.
Ravewear or clubwear has a long history of almost 40 years. Besides being the outfit of choice at rave and club parties as the name suggests, it was also sometimes used as a political statement and a push against social norms.
The ravewear scene was built on the principle of practicality, typified by baggy outfits that allow easy movement for dancing, with no lack of pockets to keep loose items. Often, rave-goers would DIY their own ravewear as it was not widely available.
As the scene evolved, bold colors and eclectic designs started to come to fore, driven by people’s need to express themselves and escape from reality.
Today, ravewear draws inspiration from themes like postmodernism, brutalism, the DIY scene, futurism, and kitsch aesthetics.
10- K-pop Streetwear
The K-Pop wave has stormed the international music industry and established trends in contemporary streetwear globally.
Music and fashion have always been closely related, forging a dynamic partnership that helps produce eye-catching imagery, whether in making music videos or developing fashion trends. This has been the case with the rapidly expanding K-Pop genre as well.
Idols make concerted efforts to turn every outfit they wear into a visual show. They most notably sport edgy urban looks and constantly experiment with high and low cuts while adding elements of street style.
11 – Japanese Streetwear
The roots of Japanese streetwear culture can be traced back to when shops in Urahara (short for ura-Harajuku) started importing and selling clothes inspired by western subcultures like hip-hop and punk, enabling the youth to disseminate this among their peers.
This movement gradually blended with Japanese culture, giving rise to a new generation of Japanese designers, and brands like Visvim, Wtaps, & Sophnet, who put out their own unique styles of street fashion, creating a cult following of these designers.
Streetwear has become one of the most popular fashion styles over the years, beloved for its commitment to authenticity, expression and the sub-cultures that shape it.
If you’re interested in creating a streetwear brand and need a helping hand, feel free to reach out.
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