This weekend while reading the WSJ style section my eye was caught by the headline, “Am I Too Old To Wear Streetwear?” My response of course to that is: “That’s a very unhelpful question.” I prefer what the designer Virgil Abloh has to say about it, “Streetwear is a catchphrase, I look at it as a modern way of styling.” Streetwear offers an unusual piece that you can mix with something minimalist like a long black Yamamoto dress. It is yet another tool of expression.
After NYFW you can’t help not thinking about streetwear as increasingly streetwear has evolved to be considered high fashion and high fashion has incorporated elements of streetwear. On one of my earlier visits to Dover Street Market, Prada was displayed right next to the streetwear brand Supreme. Streetwear as conceptualized by brands such as Vetements, Off-White and Hood by Air really deserve at this point to be called fashion. They are conceptual, have beautiful tailoring and wonderful details. The quote in my title is by Miucca Prada (who’s clothing I am wearing in this photo and who also has a Ph.D.) and relates to the initial vision for her designs. I like the phrase in this context because it seems to aptly describe the movement of this kind of clothing from the street to the runway. At the end of the day although streetwear incorporates the rawness and grit of the streets, it is still expensive.
Streetwear influencing high fashion is not a new phenomenon. Since 1968 when Yves St. Laurent was inspired by the Paris street riots and Vivienne Westwood started to sell punk, streetwear has always had an influence on high fashion. Streetwear today is a conglomerate of the evolving historical and cultural references of the designers who create it: skate parks, hip hop, Japanese fashion, high fashion, post Soviet culture, the digital age and graphic tees. As a pragmatist philosopher and now a fan of neuroscience, I have always believed that transacting with our environment sculpts us, allows us to incorporate new identities and change throughout our lifetime. Neuroscience now tells us that in fact that transaction changes our brains. The culture of streetwear designers is not “their” culture, it is also our culture. So for me a more helpful question than the one asked in the WSJ is, ” What can I learn from the stories streetwear is telling and what parts of that story will help me to tell mine?
What is streetwear saying to you?