Streetwear has infiltrated the luxury world for good – but is that relationship now becoming symbiotic? That is, now that luxury houses have been borrowing design motifs from streetwear spaces, is streetwear beginning to incorporate luxury motifs in turn? Whilst the space is known for its oversized silhouettes, logos that garner cult followings and a lean into loungewear, it seems that the newest roster of streetwear brands may actually not be streetwear at all.
More interesting though, are the brands that straddle the two. Awake NY, founded by Angelo Baque (formerly of Supreme) has its roots in streetwear, but produces contemporary offerings alongside its more ‘typical’ streetwear pieces. At Awake NY, immaculately tailored blazers sit alongside graphic tees, which are flanked by houndstooth suits or twill raincoats.
Another brand championing a new wave of ‘preppy’ streetwear is Aimé Leon Dore, who’s logo’d cardigans bridge the gap between the two intertwining styles. Often styled with shirts and tailored trousers, the cardigans are a far cry from the brand’s roots, which launched with tracksuits styled with Jordan 1s.
Celebrity streetwear mavericks such as Tyler, the Creator have been championing this too, evolving his style from graphic hoodie-OFWGKTA-pin-up to wearing sweater vests and loafers. Virgil Abloh also pioneered this shift, at Louis Vuitton and Off-White. Famously iterating that ‘Streetwear Is Dead’, the late designer foresaw a change in the market: the kids who grew up in streetwear, grew up. Now, they favour trenches, cardigans and tailoring – all of which incorporate elements of the streetwear scene which they know and love.
And this makes a lot of sense – streetwear, by its very nature, is about a mashup of styles: repurposed athleisure, tailoring and sportswear slowly formed into their own sub-genre as wearers started experimenting with personal style. Take the sports jersey, or varsity jacket: once functional pieces, in being oversized, breathable, and reserved for sports players, were transformed into a conscious fashion statement as consumers changed the context in which they wore them. Now prolific and recognisable streetwear pieces, the sports jersey and varsity jacket symbolises the journey from sportswear to streetwear. And, since this shift, it wasn’t long before they started appearing in the luxury space either: streetwear became luxury, blurring the lines that they once defined.
Jian DeLeon, men’s fashion director at Nordstrom, encapsulates this, saying “streetwear has always been a reflection of two things. One, how culturally engaged young people dress, and two, the personal tastes and inspirations of the people making the clothes. It’s always been a mash-up of subcultures like punk, hip-hop, surfing and skateboarding, which have all had their own ways of subverting various types of uniforms and dress codes.”