A couple of years ago, Bobby Hundreds spoke about the current state of streetwear. As the co-founder of The Hundreds in 2004, which is considered to be the timeframe of when the golden age of streetwear began, he is unmistakably one of streetwear’s most notable and respected individuals.
Recently, he further delved into the topic once again, sharing his view about the ever changing fashion landscape, encompassing price, reselling, exclusivity, race, the roots of street culture, and more as 2017 draws to a close.
…on the idea that people used to wear streetwear because nobody else wore it. And today, they wear it because everyone wears it.
BH: “Under Dick Hebdige’s definition of “subculture,” like punk rock pins on a leather jacket, streetwear is a badge of defiance. In its beginning stages, both designer and audience were drawn to streetwear because it lived outside the norms of prevailing fashion and contradicted the dominant order. A discerning customer wanted it because it was irrelevant and couldn’t fit neatly into the mainstream.
In 2017, streetwear couldn’t be more ubiquitous, which is the eventual destination of any viable fashion trend. But, the main stage is problematic for an innately independent act like streetwear. It’s not just off-brand. It’s paradoxical.”
…on exclusivity (production), rarity (distribution), and now, it’s about price.
BH: “By its DNA, streetwear’s appeal stems from exclusivity. It’s not a specific look, it’s an attitude of conceit. The customer wants to stand apart by wearing unique clothing. In the past, that specialness came down to rarity. With less availability, the customer traveled and hunted in obscure neighborhoods to find limited-edition treasure (The Internet foiled that). Or, he or she knew someone who knew someone and bought precious goods with social capital (social media distorted this gauge of influence).
Today, streetwear’s exclusivity is less about knowledge or access and more about price tag. It’s now about who can afford the clothes over who’s the coolest or most stylish. There’s a dirty undertone of classism in all this, which again is contradictory to streetwear’s premise.”
…on streetwear prioritizing commerce over community.
BH: “There is less sense of culture now, only clothing and capital. Most young people entering the fray are lured by the financial value of things, as opposed to the relationships or story. Streetwear’s magic was in connecting creator with consumer. Now, it connects consumers with cash.
Reselling. Reselling has always been one of streetwear’s cornerstones, but it now eclipses all facets of the ecosystem. The pitfall, however, is that reselling isn’t a sustainable means of holding up a subculture, because it’s about money, not art.”
…on streetwear showcasing its power of diversity, as it’s a glimpse into the future of all fashion, not just street.
BH: “Every generation has its streetwear. In the ‘80s, it was called surf. The look was so favored, that even thousands of miles from the coastline, Midwesterners chased the sun-bleached California dream in Quiksilver, OP, and Gotcha. In the ‘90s, it was skateboarding – DC to DVS. Today, streetwear may share the same influences and aesthetic (T-shirts and caps), but there are contextual differences. Most notably, racial diversity in audience and ownership. For the first time, POC are not only the faces of fashion, but also the designers and the founders (even the late 1990s urban labels – while fronted by black rappers – were overwhelmingly backed by white owners and garmentos).
For the last century, minority culture has inspired youth music and fashion trends, even if people of color weren’t behind the curtain. But, social media demands authenticity, rewarding brands that reflect the spectrum of customers, from its internal staff to product offerings.
Streetwear also owes much of its popularity to rap’s reign in pop music. As Black music sits atop the Billboard charts, its fashion component follows. Rap is pop, therefore streetwear is fashion. I wonder how much longer rap will wear the crown and what that means for streetwear’s tenure. Pop music evolves with every high school graduating class: Beatles to Britney to Uzi. If K-pop is next, perhaps fashion will drop the hoodies and pull from lenticular spacesuits? This antiquated notion, however, of white-male-owned brands selling white (and Black) male culture to white men is over. I don’t hear too many groans about that from a market that is only getting increasingly diverse.”
For more, view the entire piece directly at The Hundreds and happily share your thoughts below.
In comparison, sneaker culture is a reminder that we’re all just animals.
- Source: The Hundreds
- Main / Featured Image: Bobby Hundreds / Michael N. Todaro / Getty