Streetwear 101 – Style, Aesthetic, Ideas, TOP Brands (2023)

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Streetwear originated in New York City in the late 1970s early 1980s as a style combining elements of hip-hop fashion with Californian surf apparel.

With the help of rappers like Jay-Z, Snoop Dog, and Biggie and athletes like Michael Jordan, the laid-back athletic-inspired streetwear style began to gain global traction.

Nowadays, streetwear encapsulates elements of sportswear, punk, skateboarding, and Japanese street fashion.

In recent years, we’ve seen streetwear influenced and influencing high-end and haute-couture fashion.

Valued at 334 billion dollars in 2021 by the Business of Fashion, streetwear is also the fastest-growing fashion segment.

In this article, I’ll introduce you to everything you need to know about streetwear, from fashion to culture.

You’ll learn the origin of streetwear, what comprises a streetwear style, popular streetwear brands, and how to dress streetwear without breaking your bank account.

Streetwear Style
What is Streetwear? –

What Is Streetwear?

Streetwear is more than overpriced casual clothing logo t-shirts, oversized hoodies, and cool sneakers.

The streetwear customer base is diverse, spanning every economic and social status and covering the world’s biggest cities.

The fashion industry defines streetwear as “popular culture-inspired fashionable casual clothing worn by young fashionistas belonging to a particular subculture group (hip-hop fans, skaters, surfers) and living in urban areas.”

However, as the concept of subculture is subjective, influenced by sports, music, haute couture, fast fashion, and K-Pop, streetwear is a blend of all, relevant to the social context.


London Streetwear vs. Tokyo Streetwear vs. New York Streetwear
What is Considered Streetwear? –

What is Considered Streetwear?

While streetwear clothes are unique and depend on each person’s influences, style and preferences, location matters a lot.

For example, London’s streetwear culture differs from Tokyo’s or New York’s streetwear looks and even fashion trends.

Nevertheless, despite these stylistic differences, there’s no right or wrong way to wear streetwear.

Style your clothes in a way that feels authentic to you, and remember that at its core, streetwear aesthetic is about mixing comfort and practicality with self-expression.

Your streetwear fashion choices must, first and foremost, communicate who you are and what you value.

Who Started Streetwear
Who Started Streetwear; James Jebbia, Shawn Stussy, Dapper Dan, and Hiroshi Fujiwara –

Who Started Streetwear?

Pinpointing the first streetwear designer or fashionista is an impossible task.

Yet, there are a few key streetwear pioneers worth mentioning:

James Jebbia – founder and owner of streetwear brand Supreme.

Shawn Stussy – founder and owner of California streetwear label Stussy.

Dapper Dan – a luxury streetwear designer from Harlem known for his excellent street-style apparel for hip-hop artists and influential people of color.

Hiroshi Fujiwara – the godfather of Ura-Harajuku fashion and globally recognized streetwear designer.

“Talking about streetwear origins, what we call street fashion now has evolved from skateboarding, but the current streetwear is different, more like a sneaker culture”

said Hiroshi Fujiwara, the godfather of the Ura-Harajuku style.

Streetwear Types
Streetwear Types –

Different Types of Streetwear

Four main categories can define popular streetwear brands and styles:

  1. Original Streetwear
  2. Sportswear-inclined Streetwear
  3. High-end and Luxury Streetwear
  4. Novel Streetwear

Each streetwear category has a different aesthetic and style, and below, we’ll break down the best streetwear names in each category.

1. Original Streetwear

Original streetwear brands are the makers of the trend and the early entrants.

Known as the O.G.’s of streetwear style, some of the most popular brands in this category are Supreme, Stussy, Palace, B.A.P.E., and Kith.

With excellent history and brand recognition, these streetwear brands have medium to high price points, but their products have high resale value.

Known for releasing small batches and limited editions, these streetwear labels create scarcity and high demand.

2. Sportswear-inclined Streetwear

Streetwear and sportswear operate on a common stylistic ground.

That’s because sportswear brands are the foundation of modern streetwear.

Many athleticwear names have started collaborations with celebrities and influencers in recent years, expanding beyond sports-related performance apparel into streetwear.

3. High-end & Luxury Streetwear

Luxury streetwear brands are traditional high-end fashion houses launching their lines or collaborating with streetwear designers to create new brands.

Relatively new to the market, these high-end streetwear labels blur the lines between O.G. streetwear styles and old-school luxury couture.

Staying true to their luxury roots, these streetwear brands offer apparel at the highest price point, appealing primarily to traditional luxury shoppers.

4. Novel Streetwear

Novel streetwear brands are the latest entrants to the streetwear scene.

These more affordable streetwear brands do not have experience in streetwear but decided to hop on the trend as it is financially lucrative.

Some of these brands are new entrants, while most are fast-fashion retailers that replicate high-end luxury streetwear.

Streetwear Fashion on the Runway
Streetwear Fashion on the Runway –

Streetwear & Luxury Fashion

The impact of streetwear fashion is so powerful that the traditional fashion model has to adapt to survive.

Over the past five decades, fashion designers dictated what styles go on the runway, trend forecasters what trends will catch up and reach the stores, and fashion magazines informed buyers on how to style.

Nowadays, anyone, from celebrities, musicians, actors, and high-status individuals, wears streetwear.

The digital revolution and social media empowered streetwear influencers to dictate in advance what goes on the runway, what’s trendy, and how to style.

With hundreds of millions of streetwear lovers posting, liking, sharing, and re-sharing, streetwear determine the following trends instead of the fashion elite.

Streetwear In Luxury Fashion
Streetwear In Luxury Fashion (Gucci Streetwear Collection) –

As a result, streetwear has become the new status symbol.

The emergence of luxury streetwear (creations of high-end fashion houses like Gucci and Balenciaga) highlights streetwear’s complex role in the current cultural climate.

Moreover, the advent of designer brands in streetwear infused the style with symbols of social status that reflect one’s income and personal values.

Streetwear and Pop Culture
Streetwear and Pop Culture –

Streetwear Clothing & Pop Culture

Streetwear styles are the purest reflections of the world’s current pop-cultural landscapes.

As people who wear streetwear change, street fashion constantly shapes and morphs.

Unlike traditional and formal fashion, streetwear is highly adaptable, gender-neutral, size-inclusive, and made by and for people of all skin colors.

Historically, hip-hop music and subculture have predominantly influenced the streetwear style.

In particular, rappers in the 80s and 90s fashion days wore tracksuits and white sneakers assorted with bucket hats and gold chains.

Nowadays, the street style deeply connects to pop culture and influences various music styles, such as K-Pop.

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Now it’s your turn…

Which streetwear brand do you see as the best and why?

Which streetwear style do you think we’ve missed and should include in our next article update?

Please leave your comments below; we always appreciate them and use them to learn, improve, and update these articles.

After years of managing hundreds of fashion brands from London's office of a global retailer, Mandy has ventured into freelancing. Connected with several fashion retailers and media platforms in the US, Australia, and the UK, Mandy uses her expertise to consult for emerging fashion brands create top-notch content as an editorial strategist for several online publications.

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  1. Greetings Vou family, urban or street wear is comfortable wear. I wouldn’t mind sharing some ideas with your brand if possible?

  2. You made a good point that urban streetwear tends to be closely tied to what’s happening in the current pop culture. I’m a big fan of streetwear, it’s comfortable, stylish, and always makes a statement.


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