History of Streetwear Fashion – A Case Study

Streetwear, also referred to as street fashion, emerged in the 80s when punk, rock, and hip-hop began to impact the music industry. Its popularity was contributed by California skaters and surfers, and hip-hop music. These three movements validated the culture of self-expression and independence shown by their bold-colored and heavily branded streetwear statement accessories. Streetwear fashion has grown, and each decade holds a unique style.

Streetwear Fashion- Overview

Streetwear fashion originated from a small group of California surfers, but it fast expanded to all parts of the world.

Understanding Streetwear Fashion 

Streetwear fashion emphasizes individuality and freedom of expression over product art or design. However, as the streetwear label grows in popularity, it becomes more difficult to define. The actual meaning of this fashion trend has been twisted by media outlets, with some including clothing such as sportswear in this category. As a result, most fashion brands identify as streetwear, though only a few qualify as the original 80s street fashion. Designers and other fashion enthusiasts must understand that street style is about people, stories, and community.

The following section of this history of streetwear fashion post highlights critical figures and movements in streetwear.

Significant Figures and Movements in Streetwear History 

Aside from punk’s DIY aesthetic, early streetwear in the 1970s and 1980s looked to Japanese street fashion, heavy metal, and long-standing legacy sportswear and workwear brands like Schott NYC, Dr. Martens, Kangol, Fila, and Adidas. The 70s and 80s artists had a way of voicing their opinions through rap and music. Designers such as Shawn Stussy identified that not everyone could become a musician, which is when they invented streetwear. Dressing in distinct streetwear brands became the best way for non-artists to voice their opinions.

Influence from Hip-Hop Stars

Before the advent of hip-hop in the 1970s, African Americans rarely had a platform from which to express themselves in mainstream culture. Although early hip-hop artists put most of their energy into making music, many of them have branched out into other areas, such as selling branded merchandise like T-shirts. They let the world know who they were by way of their music and their style of streetwear. Hip hop’s iconic “street” style was popularized by the group Run-DMC, who became known for wearing Adidas tracksuits and laceless shell-toed sneakers. New York City b-boys served as an inspiration for this outfit.

Shawn Stussy Surfer Movement

In the 1980s, Shawn Stussy popularized the surf culture of California by printing his iconic surfboard logo on t-shirts. Shawn boosted his earnings by peddling the tees advertised on the back of his card. Most surfers and skaters were impressed by this outfit and took to making their own branded T-shirts at home. One of Stussy’s strongest points is the brand’s consistent ability to produce products that are current fashion favorites. Each of his creations is one-of-a-kind, completely original, and a perfect representation of the streetwear subculture. Bobby Hundreds, who founded The Hundreds, has said that Stussy is the best company ever.

The History of Streetwear Fashion in the 80s 

Changes in streetwear style can be seen throughout the decades; each decade has contributed its own unique flair to the genre. Many iconic brands from the ’80s are still popular today, and some that fell out of favor could make a comeback in the years to come. Since most customers don’t buy streetwear accessories from mainstream boutiques, those who love streetwear have stuck with DIY trends from the 1980s.

Although its introduction to the fashion industry is difficult to pinpoint, the 1980s saw the label’s popularity among surfers and punk rockers. Through their music videos and public appearances, hip-hop artists helped popularize streetwear fashion, which ultimately led to the launch of the label. In the late 1980s, this style began to catch on outside of its initial stronghold in California. Large markets were created for designers in the 1980s thanks to the widespread adoption of streetwear brands in Europe and countries like Japan.

In the mid-1980s, Nike and other streetwear brands entered the sneaker market with a bang, and today the market is flooded with ubiquitous labels like Timberland and Champion. In the late 1980s, streetwear trends such as crop tops, baggy jeans, snapbacks, and colored spandex reigned supreme. Even at this time, graffiti was a favorite accessory of streetwear enthusiasts.

1990’s Streetwear Fashion History 

There was a heyday for streetwear in the ’90s, when a number of famous rappers and musicians released clothing lines that featured their own takes on the style and its signature accessories. Early in the 1990s, record labels like Def Jam Recordings, Tommy Boy Records, and Delicious Vinyl that were affiliated with popular hip-hop acts started selling branded merchandise, such as letterman and workwear jackets made by companies like Carhartt, with the labels’ names embroidered on the back.

Skateboarding and gangsta rap were two major influences by the mid-decade. Boots from The Timberland Company and the newest shoe designs from Nike, Inc., as well as oversized team jerseys from professional American sports franchises like the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Raiders, and Chicago Bulls, have made a significant impact on the scene. After that, CEOs of record labels began releasing their own brands, such as Roc-a-Jay-Z Fella’s and Damon Dash’s Rocawear and Def Jam’s Russell Simmons’ Phat Farm label.

There’s nothing like a pair of Le Coq Sportif and a pair of shell-toe In the 1990s, Addidas shoes were ubiquitous, while personalized snapbacks and puffer coats enjoyed a surge in popularity. Many market innovators, including BAPE, introduced their products in small batches, driving up their prices. This limited the market for the brand, which in turn spawned imitators who produced cheap knockoffs of the streetwear trend. Brands like Supreme and FUBU entered the market for streetwear clothing and quickly became the most popular among streetwear fans.

Streetwear Fashion History in the 2000s

The decade of the 2000s marked a sea change in streetwear style, with most brands jettisoning the previous decade’s trends in favor of bold new statements. In the early 2000s, low-income areas saw a surge in demand for low-priced streetwear brands like Wu-Wear and Lil Wayne’s Trukfit. Artists who are hip to the latest streetwear tend to buy more of it. Famous labels from this era include Supreme and LRG. Following its introduction in the 2000s, the Internet facilitated the rise of online shopping. People have become more resourceful in using famous people to promote their streetwear products. Artists like Nelly, who promoted the Air Force One Kick in his song “Air Force Ones,” aren’t the only ones who have a special connection to a particular product line.

Current Streetwear Fashion Trends 

The popularity of streetwear has grown as a result of online commerce. Technological advancements have made it possible for brands to easily sell their products to clients all over the world, while buyers are exposed to a variety of products. The majority of people have accepted hip-hop culture, and artists have become the primary streetwear brand ambassadors. Brands are still merging with mainstream companies, resulting in a larger market for their products, such as leather jackets and sneakers, while DIY items such as punk rock tops and ripped jeans are also popular today.


All of us have probably passed a girl wearing a vintage Gucci belt or a guy decked out in Jordan 1 Chicago while out and about. Hypebeast is a term used to describe this style movement. One who seeks social acceptance by acquiring and wearing the latest in fashion accessories. On the other hand, it describes someone who follows the crowd. In the early 2000s, being a “hypebeast” did not mean flaunting the most expensive gear you could afford. In recent years, consumers have increasingly purchased knockoffs and fakes. It was meant to be more of a statement than anything else, saying that if the wealthy can get their hands on it, so can I. However, in the case of hypebeast, this is not the case. Often, the group has thought about how their streetwear aesthetic would be received. Even so, you can express yourself freely through your streetwear choice. However, the irony is that the cost of these fashion items and accessories has increased. Most hypebeast apparel is created by a specific designer, and it’s not a bad thing to own a few pieces from the collection.

Korean Streetwear Style 

Among Korean cities, Hongdae is by far the most hip. Sporty items, baggy unisex clothing that isn’t one size fits all, and lots of black are common sightings. It’s mostly just boots and sneakers. The best spring 2020 clothing was on display during Seoul Fashion Week. Among them were utility garments like cargo pants and boilersuits and more frivolous options like madras skirts and three-piece suits and mixed plaids. The primary element of many of the garments designed in Seoul is their oversized cut. Similarly, K-pop had a major impact on Korean streetwear style, which facilitated its global expansion. Street style is defined by icons like Jennie, Kim Tae-Hyung, G-Dragon, and The8.

The Future of Streetwear Fashion 

The big question for those interested in streetwear style is how long this fad will last. The popularity of a certain style, however, may suddenly decline at any time due to the ephemeral nature of fashion. The greatest variety of clothing styles worn by men and women everywhere can be found in streetwear. You have the freedom to choose whatever best suits your needs and finances. This look is perfect for any everyday activity, not just formal ones. The ethos of streetwear is individuality and the creation of fresh looks. This makes it simple to repurpose previously owned items in a new and interesting way. To be considered “streetwear,” clothing labels need not be exclusive or prohibitively expensive. Whatever makes you feel most at ease is what counts.

More than ever, given the current climate and the growing need for tolerance and acceptance, gender-neutral clothing is a necessity. And this will give an even bigger boost to the streetwear fashion scene. Demand from consumers for these brands has been compiled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. People would probably prioritize ease of movement and practicality after the pandemic. This could be for formal or informal settings, or for a special event. Potential for a further increase in the future fashion that combines high-end and streetwear brands. This will give people a chance to experience something brand new. Many companies and artists are maintaining streetwear’s authentic spirit. Since this is what customers want right now, it’s possible that they’ll keep this spirit alive and develop more eco-friendly products in the future. As a result, streetwear is not going away as a style, and neither will the ideology it represents.

A Great Online Class: Creation of a Streetwear Brand

If you are interested in learning more about how you can create a successful streetwear brand, we recommend taking a look at the online class “Creation of a Streetwear Brand”.

The course is currently under promotion, but you can use the discount code: T_BROWNLEES-PROMO to get an additional 10% discount on your purchase.

This online class offered by Domestika, at a very inexpensive price covers all you need to know to create create a streetwear brand, from developing your mood boards to digitizing your collection and more. If you apply to the course through the link below you’ll be supporting 440 Industries, and we thank you for it!


This “history of streetwear fashion” article makes it clear that streetwear will continue to change every year as new brands release new products. As a form of clothing, streetwear has always allowed individuals to freely express their individuality through fashion and the arts. The most up-to-date styles of clothing, the majority of which are streetwear, can be found by doing a simple hashtag search on “fashion” today.

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History of Streetwear Fashion – A Case Study Learn about the history of streetwear and gain insight into its potential future in this in-depth look at the development of streetwear over the years.
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