Every Monday, hundreds of people, sometimes more than a thousand, wait for hours in the hope of registering on the Supreme List. The crowds in the store are such that the brand, which launches capsule collections on Thursdays, must limit the number of customers in advance. In other words, you can easily spend a morning queuing, with no guarantee of access three days later. On its own, the label crystallizes the craze for streetwear, which has brought it up to its collaboration with Louis Vuitton.
Without necessarily going so far as to take half a day off to try your luck at the Box Logo lottery, how many of you have bought a pair of sneakers since the beginning of the year? How many sweaters do you own? Is there a bomber jacket in your closet? Caps?
Street mania has infiltrated all levels of fashion, from H&M to Hermès. Pairs of Nike Air Jordan are sold for a fortune on eBay, when they don’t kill people (source Wall Street Journal, ed.). The hoodie is VETEMENT’s signature; Balenciaga reigns on the dad shoe, while Chanel tries its hand at track suits and slides. However, judging by the FW19 shows, the style seems to be declining both on the male and female side. Beginning a return to a certain refinement, a whole fringe of creators inaugurates the era of new elegance… including former apostles of street aesthetics.
So, is streetwear over?
The look of the decade
Clothes function as a time marker, each era having its own style — which has never prevented from looking back for inspiration.
At the end of the 2000s, brands turn to the 90’s for their future collections. Cuts get wider, pants waists go up. Friends and Melrose Place are essential resources for trend agencies. In the process, streetwear finds itself under fashion’s magnifying glass. Couture is in tune with rap. What was a movement in its own right, with its codes and culture, thus becomes the style of reference.
Its success is not surprising after all. The original avatar of streetwear is a non-conformist. Rebellious, casual, he is the quintessence of cool, the attitude that labels try to convey in order to seduce youth. This hip-hop-loving generation, whose favourite artists also embark on the adventure of fashion weeks.
So, if the oversized shoulders and pop colours instantly remind us of the 80s, it is the sneakers and hoodie that draw the typical silhouette of our decade…
A faltering trend
“Trendy is the last stage before old-fashioned,” said Lagerfeld. When an aesthetic loses its audacity, fashion immediately leaves in search of a new one. Look books are similar, influencer even more so… After ten years of hegemony, one can wonder if the runways have not gone all the way to streetwear.
Its detractors are many. Beyond a standardized style, it is criticized for undermining the craftsmanship inherent in luxury. How to justify a simple cotton tee-shirt sold at the price of half a wage? The culture of resell (purchase of rare parts with the sole purpose of raising their price, editor’s note) that surrounds it is also a subject of debate. The clothes remain in blister packs, are now nothing more than speculation for groups that organize their own Wall Street(wear).
Hype is a double-edged sword, which can arouse both desire and weariness. The pioneers of the movement regret its popularization; TRASHER’s founder complains about seeing Justin Bieber and other « fucking clowns » wearing items bearing the effigy of his magazine. Copying is commonplace, labels have a brief moment of glory before falling into oblivion.
At the same time, Virgil Abloh is recruited by Louis Vuitton. Gosha Rubchinskiy puts his brand on hold to collaborate exclusively with Comme Des Garçons. Once a way of differentiating, it now means fitting into the mold. Has fashion totally absorbed streetwear?
Un style en renouveau
However, we would be wrong to think he was dead. If the total looks we have been accustomed to will probably be less prominent in the years to come, we can no longer reason fashion in perfectly distinct strata… Like punk, it has a strong and deeply rooted imagery. Converse no longer necessarily refers to Los Angeles skaters, but it continues to capture their nonchalance. The same goes for the casualness of a cap or oversized hoodie.
In addition, streetwear has introduced a new approach to luxury. Globalized, uncompartmentalized, it is no longer the prerogative of a single elite. Like no other style, it mixes registers, capable of coupling a 50 € pair of jeans to a jacket worth 500 € and establishes a different relationship between labels, where collaboration becomes an exchange of ideas as well as know-how.
Its codes also leave their mark on the sartorial wardrobe. The suit may be making its comeback, there’s nothing much traditional about it anymore. In the wake of its sworn enemy, it opts for a look sometimes deconstructed, sporty, irreverent. Its characteristics are assimilated and then integrated into a patchwork of other references.
If the many streetwear enthusiasts ensure it will have a happy life, its loss of speed in the global landscape is part of the logical life cycle of a trend. Besides, it leaves a real legacy to fashion, where nothing ever really disappears… •