So You Want to Dress: Streetwear

A drawing of a person with spiky blue hair and a green hoodie.
(Joanne Oh • The Student Life)

Were you also a victim of the 2016 hypebeast era? Have you been influenced into overpaying for a T-shirt because it had an exclusive brand logo? Did you watch endless YouTube videos on how to beat the buying bots on the Supreme website? If so, you may be entitled to emotional compensation, and you are not alone.

Streetwear fashion first emerged in the hip-hop community in the late ’80s before being adopted into red carpet fashion in the ’90s. With the rise of nu-metal music and skater culture in the early 2000s, streetwear shifted from its original bomber jackets and flat caps to below-the-knee, ultra wide shorts and tank tops. Rising up from the more niche, authentic skate community, skate brands such as Supreme and Palace Skateboards took over the streetwear scene in the mid-to-late 2010s. 

Although streetwear fashion originated in small communities centered around music, surf and skateboarding, as well as prioritized practicality and comfort, it has recently become one of the most exclusive and elitist fashion communities. Streetwear is no longer about underground communities rebelling against the mainstream; now, it is all about trends and the brand name. With the never ending amounts of brand collaborations between streetwear brands and luxury labels — such as Supreme x Tiffany & Co. or Supreme x Louis Vuitton — streetwear has become unaffordable and inaccessible to the wider public.

Supreme has almost completely sold out all of its brand values with their rise to fame. Many skater brands such as Supreme started out as small businesses who catered to the needs of professional skaters, such as making durable and protective clothing specifically for skating. These standards and the quality of items that professional skaters were looking for have now been lost due to the fetishisation and absorption of skater brands by the luxury sector — by people who have never even picked up a skateboard. Although I cannot speak from the perspective of a professional skater, I would surely be disappointed and feel as if a brand that I had been a loyal customer to over many years failed me. These labels abruptly became inaccessible for the customers that needed them most, both in terms of skyrocketing prices and because of the lack of stock available for sale.

Fashion fanatics now spend quadruple the retail price to access these limited items, just to be able to sport a recognizable, exclusive brand logo. Because of this label obsession, streetwear has lost its appeal to the younger audience who cannot afford these pieces, but we are now thankfully leaving this era behind and returning to streetwear as it used to be.

Today, streetwear fashion has been readopted by the skater community and popularized by the wider fashion enthusiast audience. Streetwear is returning to its roots, with most on trend pieces being available in thrift stores and resale apps for a fraction of the original price. 

So let’s talk about how you can resist the cringey and outdated hypebeast fashion by tapping into your authentic skater or streetwear look, no skateboard required.

The first staple that you will need for a modern streetwear look is a pair of baggy Dickies, Carhartt utility work pants or chinos. Or in case of a streak of warm weather, opt in for a pair of denim or camo cargo shorts. As for the top, you could go with a Harley Davidson hoodie or an oversized graphic T-shirt. Add a gray fisherman vest for extra utility pockets if needed.

For accessories, a beanie never misses. And wear rings: bulky silver ones on all ten fingers. If your ears are pierced, definitely add a statement earring or two, and get as many chain necklaces around your neck as possible. And if you are going for baggy trousers, a black studded belt is your friend.

As for the shoes, you most likely already have a pair to go with your outfit in your possession. Grab those trusty old Vans or Nike Air Forces, and you’re good to go. Or if you want to switch it up, invest in a pair of solid color Nike Dunks or Jordans — the price tag is high, but buying second hand is also always an option!

As with my hair tips in my previous articles, I have to advocate for the mullet haircut yet again. It is the most versatile haircut out there — it works with both feminine and masculine styles and is perfect for both curly or straight hair. This is your sign to get that mullet!

If you were someone that bought into the hypebeast trend, don’t beat yourself up; it happens to the best of us. But now with the return of more authentic streetwear, definitely stop yourself before spending crazy amounts of money on a hoodie or a T-shirt and ask yourself: Why are you really buying this? Is it for the brand name, the exclusivity, and the acceptance? Or do you actually like the item and think that it would be a great addition to your closet?

Streetwear doesn’t have to be so expensive and elitist, but the only way that we can move the trend away from those leanings is to stop buying into the consumerist culture that is constantly pushed upon us. You don’t need outlandish clothing items to be a part of the streetwear community –– keep it original and be you. Don’t buy into a culture that aims to exclude people on the basis of class.

Elizaveta (Lisa) Gorelik CM ‘25 is from Moscow, Russia. Her favorite part of the day is taking time to get ready in the morning whilst listening to some nostalgic tunes.

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