CULTURE is an interesting concept; everyone’s perception seems to differ whether it be in a positive or overly ‘sheep-like’ outlook when it comes to fashion. Over the last months, I felt as though I’d fallen out of love with streetwear and everything it entails; the supposed lack of said culture had become apparent in its entirety. These days, everything is far more centralised around how much an outfit costs or how many logos can be displayed; not aesthetic presence. Of course this isn’t a negative route to take, I’d like to point out, each individual has their own taste whether it to be taken as inspiration from others, or simply built around personal custom. To affirm a stronger sense of what our culture holds, or will hold in 2017, you have to take a step back from social media and enjoy the bigger picture. For instance, opposed to larger communities we now have ‘subsections’ if you will; localised, intricate little pockets of enthusiasts whom share common knowledge and love of apparel- being sneakers, clothing, reselling, you name it.
This day and age, you may have heard many people say ‘there is no streetwear culture anymore, it’s all hype’, or something coherently along those lines. From my point of view this correlates with the ever-changing world we live in; for those slightly younger and getting into fashion, you see Dunks? Jordan Brand? Superstars? Common attire such as Stussy or BAPE? These built the foundations to the communities you know and love- without them, this of course being my personal opinion, you wouldn’t be a part of such an enormous collective following we all share. The Cambridge English Dictionary describes culture as, ‘the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time,’ this can correlate to any part of modern society; reiterating my opinion that we still have a strong culture behind UK fashion. Outside of London you’d be hard pushed to find a reoccurring feature or theme that can be marked down culturally as a trend, however moments after setting foot in the City it becomes blatantly obvious; what was once Nike and denim has been overtaken by Boost and comfort, a new wave influenced by the internet. As strange as it sounds, however, these trends have all been popular before (bar Boost of course)- take Air Max 1 to be specific. Soon after the turn of the century, Air Max 1 boomed in popularity and could be seen in most streetwear outfits, they were the staple ingredient used to compose an iconic sneaker head along with both the Dunks and Jordan 1 silhouettes. 2017 is due to apparently mark the return of Nike’s perfected arrow-esque shape which has been lacking since around 2010, so who knows what this year will hold. From a personally meditated point-of-view, where we’re situated is the least innovative period streetwear-wise to memory. Look at your favourite designer, ‘visionary’ per se; we all take influence from somewhere, even they do, every new ‘image’ or ‘idea’ has already been thought-up by someone in the past. No one has a ‘new’ look, they just know their history and took influence from an idolised figure or style that was popular years prior and a number of people take further influence from this- it’s natural.
This leads nicely into the topic of modern-culture; where there seems to be one re-occuring aspect throughout- we don’t actually know what we’re wearing. In terms of footwear, who designed your favourite pair, or do you wear them just because they’re popular? Of course this is by no means a criticism, I for one can’t string off every individual designer that puts work into creating the clothing I wear, however I feel it’s a key factor that wouldn’t go amiss today. On the other hand, those interested in streetwear are getting younger and younger; this contributant would work hand-in-hand with simply wearing what they like- a mentality that I value highly. Those criticising younger generations for dressing so similarly fail to recognise how impressionable we can be at a young age, but of course the best of us found our ‘style’ instantly, didn’t we? Certainly no trial and error, because human beings never make mistakes? Yes, of course there’s been an abundant influx of money injected into the scene, but if hype over resellable produce wasn’t so infectious then maybe this wouldn’t have happened…we’re products shaped and moulded by the internet. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just development upon what we once knew. We’re all part of a generation that would happily lose hours upon hours sleep, huddled up in Soho to buy one item worth up to three times more than what we paid; here we see communities and smaller groups forming, collectively driven lesser by individuality and far more focussed on having the most expensive outfit.
Last year, we saw a rejuvenation of Nike’s classic Presto, Footscape and Sock Dart silhouettes. Endlessly strong colour ways dropping week-in week-out, however Boost Tech took the limelight entirely; just as Visible Air did in the early 2000s. Yet unsurprisingly, so many of these releases hit sale racks. An uncomfortable number of people are far too worried about what others think of them, so they won’t wear a general release or something without a box logo. Aesthetically pristine outfits will speak volumes above logo-lathered garments produced in however little quantities; but if you like it, wear it. Why try to impress those who you’ll arguably never meet? This is what epitomises our culture, this is what you’ll talk for hours on end about to your children when trying to describe what you grew up on. What makes it memorable is the number of steps streetwear as a whole has taken up until this point- years ago we looked to our favourite rapper, group, or just a celebrity icon. Onto 2017 we’re looking at each other, we look at social media personalities and individuals for influential movements; inspiration for ‘newly’ recognised trends comes from Instagram and Facebook as a stem for progress. Localised communities have been re-invented as the new image thus promoting new icons; instead of larger, loosely-knitted groups, we’ve found a way to branch of into our own pockets as mentioned earlier. Streetwear culture isn’t dying, it’s just evolving into something alien and unfamiliar that within human nature we reject.
Looking onto the future now, Patta’s introduction to our beloved hub, Soho, is a positive one to say the least. We now house a brand with devout streetwear roots opposed to those adopted from workwear, skate attire or even deriving from higher end apparel. Their work with Fabric upon re-opening immediately integrated their name into the UK streetwear scene; supporting an event that many would associate so heavily with our culture could potentially mark a light revival of some aspects that have been lost over the years.
To summarise my points and conclude what could categorically be classed as a rant, yes, we still have a culture- however unfortunately it’s become far more transparent. It’s almost as if we’re having to build everything again; jealousy has reduced our capability to accept change and simply appreciate when something has been done well. The reason you may think we don’t have a culture is completely down to our own doing- a bi-product of hatred towards success of your peers. No longer is it acceptable to step out of our collective comfort zone; but incredibly the people who do this are eventually followed, henceforth celebrated upon success. Streetwear is a promotion and representation of personal interests; hype aside would we actually wear the same garments today if it wasn’t for social media’s intense stronghold on what’s fathomably acceptable?
Three years down the line, a vast majority of those ‘into’ the scene will no longer be even remotely interested- why? Because of the cycle I’ve mentioned time and time again, it’s only natural for us to follow what’s popular. In this case, however, it’s numbed our sense of unity. This is the reason I started to fall out of love with streetwear, it took an enormous step back to really comprehend how badly the culture had been warped. To those constantly selling collections, a single question. Without these horribly materialistic belongings that we all treasure, how will you show your children the roots of your childhood, not to mention the reason you have numerous photos of clothing dotted around your computer hard-drives and general storage provisions? We sell to keep up, but at the end of the day that leaves us with nothing. It’s frustrating, but the internet dresses us now, so what else is to be expected?
Really impressive article. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Speaks truth.
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Very well written, I really liked your perspective on streetwear culture!
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