It seems to be everywhere. It’s at school. It’s predominant at public events. It’s promoted all over social media. But what is it, exactly? It is one seemingly simple phenomenon: streetwear.
Originally, “streetwear” was a term used to describe a type of clothing or simple apparel that people wore in public, but in the past few years, it has evolved into something much bigger.
Streetwear has developed to the point where it is mostly, if not completely, separate and distinct from conventional fashion. It constantly evolves to fit current popular culture and is often bold and unpredictable in its design, with ridiculous price tags.
Consider the new Supreme Spring/Summer 2017 “Obama” jacket, sweatpant, and shirt, which all flamboyantly feature the former president’s face and “Supreme” writing multiple times in large print. To the common person, this seems absolutely ridiculous to spend hundreds of dollars on, but to popular culture and streetwear enthusiasts, this concept is wholly appealing; as such, it is nearly impossible to buy these type of items when they are released. Comprehensively, one might even classify streetwear brands as cult-like in their strong grasp and influence over consumers worldwide.
Overall, in the current era of exorbitant streetwear, a handful of major companies have emerged as the dominating forces in the industry, such as Supreme, Bape, Palace, and Stussy. Additionally, these companies, during every single year, often have “collabs” with other high end companies, resulting in products that are even more highly anticipated and demanded by consumers.
For instance, last winter, when the Supreme x The North Face winter jacket, retailed at over $360 dollars, was released online, it sold out in less than 5 seconds, and resale value skyrocketed, sometimes reaching a price tag of almost $1,000. This unimaginable demand exemplifies how our society has developed to a point where some items are so “hyped” that people are willing to do anything for a piece of clothing.
So why is there so much popularity surrounding streetwear? The reason is quite simple as a matter of fact. A person’s wardrobe and fashion choice tells a lot about that person. Comprehensively, clothing can and is often an indicator of someone’s economic, social, and cultural status in today’s increasingly materialistic society, informing others of what you spend your money on and what you are passionate about.
Peter Hong, a junior at West Ranch High School, follows a majority of streetwear brands and is a regular buyer of such goods. In an interview with JSR, he stated that “Generally speaking, I just like the uniqueness and ‘coolness’ of brands like Supreme and Anti Social Social Club. I feel like it sets me apart from other people, and I think the high prices are totally worth it, both in name value and quality in most cases. Additionally, the resale market is always great, so it is always possible to get rid of something and make a considerable profit if I don’t like it.”
In short, high-end streetwear has such a strong grasp on popular culture and society due to its distinction and lavishness. People want to look good and show off to others how they were able to “cop” (meaning to buy in streetwear terms) such highly demanded and pricey products that only exist in considerably limited quantities. So next time there is a new Supreme or Palace release, think to yourself: cop or drop?