Hire one of the pulp detectives from niche detective novels; even the keenest would find it difficult to pinpoint the origin of street culture or those directly responsible for the subsequent clothing, attitude, political activism, etc.
It’s difficult to define the origin of streetwear as well as its respective geographic home. Streetwear does not require a passport; it is within all four corners of the globe. Take a quick tour of some notable destinations with ‘street’ happenings taking place therein.
Daiki Suzuki worked as a designer with American brands before taking his experiences to Japan to release his own menswear line, Engineered Garments. Engineered Garments, sought for its celebration of ‘vintage’ American style, is popular with natives. Similarly, a former employee of his, Shinya Hasegawa, hosts a Brooklyn line, Battenwear, which like Shawn Stussy, adopts colors and lines from outdoor wear of the 60s.
The designers’ philosophies of being more concerned with awareness of brand, and people actually wearing the clothes, has them seeking new ways to keep costs down and clothes focuses on ‘common’ people despite growing popularity.
Lil Wayne, known for his huge rap career started from a very early age, occupies his ‘elder’ years with other interests, such as playing the guitar and producing his own clothesline, Trukfit.
Rappers in America take multiple routes to business success, and it is not a one-hit wonder. Aside from Wayne, Jay-Z, T.I., and others have hosted clothes to an eager public reception. Check online at Black Sheep Store for savings and major street brands. Manufacturers using celebrities to fuel sales is no stranger to marketing, but street culture and focus on individuals rather than big business has created great opportunities for stars who rather blaze their own trails than partner with big brands.
Places in England, especially in London, are blessed (or marred depending on who you are) by street art and graffiti. Some places and settings invite artist implementation while other demonstrations are considered unlawful and unwanted. Despite legality, street art is about expression, much like the clothing and sports associated with street culture.
A number of streets in London are deemed ‘legal’ for graffiti (though it would be advised to ‘double check’ with authorities). Bristol is home to one of the most notorious of modern-day street artists, Banksy. Local artists even named Leake Street ‘Bansky tunnel.’
Street culture is associated with a number of activities, interests, and sports, skateboarding being among the most recognized by the masses. Skating is no stranger in Brazil, popular with young Brazilians since the early 80s. The nation has produced a number of personalities including Bob Burnquist. Brazil hosts hundreds of pro skateboarders, an incredible feat since Janio Quadros, a Brazilian town mayor at the time, banned skating in the streets during the late 1980s. Such ‘banning’ of skating in Brazil and other nations led to guerilla settings and the eventual origin of the ‘half pipe’.
Considering the locations of people wearing the clothes, speaking the language, minding the philosophies, and taking part in the interests and activities, street culture and related ‘streetwear’ doesn’t need a passport. It’s already everywhere.
Paul Harrison is studying fashion design. He enjoys keeping up with the latest styles on the street. He also enjoys sharing his style ideas through blogging.