The Origins of Streetwear

The Origins of Streetwear

There are many opinions on the origins of Streetwear.

I for one have a tough time explaining to someone who has never heard of Streetwear and what it means.

Defining Streetwear is difficult. This is because of the complicated ingredients that have gone into making it what it is today.

Analyze the words "street" and "culture". It is easy to conclude that it deals with a variety of sub-cultures that take the form "in the streets".

The streets created many subcultures but which subculture birthed Streetwear?

Many people try to attribute Streetwear as a product of hip hop. However, that is not the most accurate way of describing its origins. If anything, streetwear's origins stem from the skate and surf subculture in L.A. in the early 1980s. 

Shawn Stussy, the owner of Stussy, founded the first ever Streetwear brand. Stussy was the result of his vision of combining fashion with art and self-expression. Using a do-it-yourself mindset, the brand gained exposure from surf, skate and hip hop. These brand characteristics created a massive youth following. 

Streetwear was born out of the youth's growing need to express themselves. A way to differentiate their true selves, ideas, and beliefs. Stussy was the first outlet of Streetwear's self-expressive regime.



Before starting Stussy, Shawn had made his name in the surf culture as a surfboard designer. At the start of Stussy, he would sell printed t-shirts from the back of his car. As the brands' popularity increased, it made its way into boutiques.

Stussy's exponential growth inspired many other Streetwear brands. These new streetwear brands infused DIY aesthetic of punk, metal and hip hop. The new Streetwear brands were different but used the same foundation pillars. Those of exclusivity and self-expression. These foundation pillars became the basis for the judgment of future Streetwear brands.

Today, Streetwear brands have evolved from only t-shirts to a wide range of products. Some even argue that it has changed from its origins into something new. Something different.

One thing is for certain, and that is Shawn Stussy's importance in the roots of Streetwear. 


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