Born out of surf-skate culture, streetwear has blended high-class fashion labels and more established brands since the late 1970s. In 1994 James Jebbia founded a small startup in downtown Manhattan. Almost twenty-five years later, Supreme is worth over a billion dollars.
The juxtaposition of athleisure brands like Adidas and high-end names like Gucci or Louis Vuitton is what gives streetwear it’s classic, laid-back, Californian look. Brands coming out of Asia, like Bathing Ape (BAPE) and Comme des Garcons, have brought Asian style to the mainstream US. Companies merge cultures and couture to create unique looks perfect for anywhere, from the sidewalk to the runway.
With products that sell for thousands of dollars, brands like Supreme have people buying the brand and reselling for huge markups. People are willing to buy anything with the classic Supreme logo. The logo has since become so iconic bricks that are engraved with it resell for thousands online. New drops sell out within hours with low supply and high demand. Supreme has broken the business cycle and rebuilt it into an empire. The queues just to enter stores are never-ending and people are willing to sleep on the street to buy new drops. They have mastered their marketing to portray exclusivity while keeping products just affordable enough for teenagers to buy.
Other companies like Stüssy, founded in 1980, started by selling graphic tees. Still one of the best brands for surf-skate fashion, Stüssy is the grandfather of the modern streetwear brand. BAPE, a Tokyo brand, owns another iconic logo, the BAPE head. This December BAPE held their 25 year anniversary and BAPE HEADS SHOW in York’s Hulu theater at Madison Square Garden. Since 1997 BAPE has held this concert for fans, with past artists ranging from Kanye West to Wiz Kalifa. Collaborations with artists, athletes, and other labels increase popularity and demand for the products and the labels that take part in them.
The influence of streetwear on fashion has transformed every urban city into a fashion hub and every street into a runway. Even a fashion newbie can throw on an Off-White hoodie and rock some Filas. Its wearability and accessibility have facilitated its seemingly exponential growth in both popularity and the streetwear market.