An Essential Guide To Streetwear Fashion

Learn how streetwear, once the element of rappers and skaters, became one of the most influential movements in the world of fashion, understand how each streetwear styles differ, and discover ways to embody it into your own fashion get-up.


What is Streetwear?

Sew Guide defined streetwear fashion as a “youthful casual style of dressing inspired by the skateboarders of California, the sneaker culture, and hipsters of New York.” It developed in the 1980s and has since emerged into one of the most iconic genres and distinctive clothing in the present. Nowadays, the term Streetwear fashion is a force to reckon with, with designers across the globe vying to produce designs for this style. It is a grassroots level yet contemporary and stylish dressing for the Urban youth with sports and musical preferences.

To relegate streetwear as a fashion flair alone is unjustness as its outset has become a major urban youth movement that has transformed the fashion scene. It can properly be named, ‘a Culture of trendy easy-going youngsters.’ It represents many Anti-establishment attitudes and embraces the aspirations and dreams of the Urban Youth. It is also linked to a liking for freestyle dancing, street sports, alternative fashion, alternative music, and more. Just like Vin T, this affordable fashion style enables the youth to emphasize their individuality while being part of a crowd and do all while being satisfactorily comfortable.

Different Types of Streetwear

Once you get into streetwear, you’ll realize all the subcultures and nuances that emerged within the streetwear world. Honestly, there are a myriad of types to go over. But this article will only cover the basics garnered from Masterclass, The Comm, and Bellatory, and those types that you will encounter most often.

Comfortable Athleisure. This is one of the common styles of streetwear. As the name suggests, athleisure is comfortable athletic wear that is casually worn in a lifestyle sense. It is highly prevalent in the west and consists of items such as twill joggers and fleece, hoodies, running sneakers, tapered sweatpants, and a variety of other athletic accessories to underscore the comfort and style of athleisure. It is commonly more tapered and feels almost like pajamas in a sense. It can comprise of layering, but users can make do without it. As Masterclass puts it, “if you cannot skate in it, then it is perhaps not a streetwear.”

American or European Streetwear. Western streetwear enthusiasts tend to follow rappers, ride trends, and major icons with regard to fashion. You will often notice someone dressed like Travis Scott, Kanye West, and other such people. Westerners tend to have the comparatively same look, with looser fitting plain tees, tapered (often distressed) denim, and oftentimes sneakers from brands such as Nike, Adidas, Jordan, or even Bape if they can afford it. Bellatory advises, “if the tee is not entirely blank, it is not uncommon to find the logo of the company they represent.” You will also see variations in various regions of Europe and America alike, as these regions have different icons, artists, and celebrities to influence them.

Menswear styles. Although streetwear is popular among individuals of all genders, it is closely linked with traditionally masculine items and menswear such as workwear and bomber jackets.

Asian Streetwear. Depending on where in Asia you are, you will find some of the most vibrant, progressive, and creative street fashion scenes in the world. Asian streetwear has had a multitude of influences, from vintage American culture to K pop, and even traditional Asian styles. While in Japan street style is more reserved and conservative, places such as Korea have an extremely vibrant and progressive street style.

Contemporary art or Skate Style. Some of the most successful streetwear logos and graphic tees from the poke fun at classic pieces or work of contemporary artists. Sometimes these are acknowledged collaborations, and sometimes they are not.

Techwear. The Comm defined techwear as “an ultra-modern fashion that has risen in fame in recent years which centers on both functionality and style.” Basically, it takes thoroughly functional pieces such as cargo pants and military vests and sets a modern twist on them by styling with luxe fabric and/or with a modern color palette like grays and blacks. The functionality of these items takes inspiration from sportswear and outdoor wear.

Scarcity. Hypebeast culture is all about limited-edition essentials. This recognized scarcity can make sought-after pieces seem more fashionable. It is the same principle that supports haute couture, but streetwear is more accessible.

Tips for Styling Streetwear

A big part of streetwear fashion is purchasing and selling limited-edition items. While that may not be possible for everyone, there are still ways to embody streetwear fashion into your look.

Start by choosing one statement piece. Clozette recommended to start by picking a streetwear statement staple that calls out to you. Then, you can establish an outfit according to its color palette. Sure, it is a safe bet, but if you’re a beginner, it is a useful tip to bear in mind. 

Invest in bold sneakers and select pieces that go well with them. Sneakers are usually the most significant (and most expensive) part of a hypebeast’s look. If you want to create a huge style impact with just one clothing item, sneakers are the move. When it comes to styling and you are not sure about what outfit to wear, pick out clothes that will complement your sneakers’ color. If your sneakers accentuate a loud colorway, you may want to choose one of the shades then pair that with your outfit.

Stick to one logo. Brand loyalty is an essential part of streetwear culture, so it is uncommon to see a true fan layering various streetwear labels in a single look. If you have a limited number of clothing from various streetwear brands, try boasting one logo at a time, and complement the rest of your style with athletic and workwear clothing.

Counter casual with the classic. Fibre2Fashion advises blending casual with classic clothing. Counter one with another by layering various labels in one look.

Go one size bigger. It is an accepted rule in streetwear: the bigger the size, the better. Forget about form-fitting, tight items; streetwear is all about comfortable wear that can still flatter your silhouette. But keep in mind not to overdo it!

Play with proportions. One of the streetwear’s ultimate fashion successes was bringing sweatshirts into the realm of high fashion. Streetwear aficionados often wear oversize sweatshirts, baggy denim, and other loose-fitting pieces, breaking the rules of proportion to fashionable effect.

When in doubt, go for black. Plumping for black when in doubt may be the most timeless style tip, but this classic fashion advice also accords contemporary streetwear. It can be easy to get lost in all the flashy prints and big logos, but when you do become devastated, the best thing to do is go back to the basics. 

Inspire and be inspired. Sought inspiration first from other streetwear fanatics: through the Instagram page, hashtags, and tagged posts. From there, you can build ideas for your classic streetwear look. You can also take cues from celebrities who adore streetwear, like Rihanna, Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian West, and more. In this age, if you’re a streetwear novice, take note that style inspiration is everywhere. So, look to more experienced fashionistas will go a long way in assisting you in creating your own style.

Be yourself. The origins of Streetwear lie in counterculture and Do-It-Yourself. While it may seem full of rules at the moment, true streetwear is about being yourself. Do not be afraid to assemble unexpected combinations–you may find yourself ahead of the curve.

Tying Your Streetwear Look Together With Your Signature Flair
Though there are common trends, threads, and themes among streetwear enthusiasts, at the end of the day, the thing that makes streetwear is its nonconformist, rebellious attitude. If you want to master this unconventional aesthetic niche, you have to come up with some of your signatures and style flairs that bring each look your very own. Once you have gotten that all down, you will be styling with the best of them.

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About the Author

Stella Cooter

Journalist, traveller and mother, Stella writes about fashion and style, luxury and adventure.

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