Aja Moore, Contributing Writer
The streetwear industry has been in a consumer frenzy. The rising hype behind major brands is making the streetwear industry be seen as “high fashion.” Artists such as Kanye West and Supreme owner James Jebbia have been in the spotlight for years now for their brands that feature absurdly expensive designs. Not to discredit their talents, but the fine line between couture and graphic tees must be restored.
The hype surrounding minimalistic clothing, much of which is impossible to get due to the use of special releases and lotteries, has become the equivalent of trying to obtain unique articles of clothing that are created specifically for runway. It is this sense of exclusivity for casual clothing that has made me feel as though fashion is going backward. Streetwear is just not the same as Chanel, Dior, or Oscar de la Renta.
Growing up, I was constantly in awe of high fashion models and runway couture. The shows of the late Alexander McQueen showed off designs that would never be worn on your daily trip to the grocery store. His styles incorporated flashy designs and colors, oddly shaped clothing and face or head pieces constructed in abnormally beautiful ways.
Nowadays, brands such as ‘Yeezy’ are starting to steal the fashion show spotlight. West is the creator of the clothing line, consisting of neutral-colored basics and a sneaker line partnered with Adidas. West daring to turn streetwear into high fashion makes me feel as if this prompted various athletic and pre-existing skatewear brands to up their game and join West in his glory.
In addition to the rise of these brands, lifestyle and progressive retail establishment, Kith, has taken a different approach. Kith recently launched a collaboration with Versace. In this campaign, the two companies created a logo representing both brands. They then took a New York City tour, extending their branding to prominent eateries such as Cha Cha Matcha. Kith has a substantial fan base and has previously held collaborations with clothing companies, and food and drink brands. In addition to this recent Kith collaboration, in the past year, Louis Vuitton hired Virgil Abloh. Abloh who formerly worked with West as a creative director, has his own brand “Off-White” and appears at music festivals occasionally as a DJ. By making Abloh the new men’s artistic director for Louis, streetwear fashion was catapulted to the high-end industry. This works in favor of streetwear, increasing its presence.
But streetwear and skatewear brands shouldn’t be receiving the same hype as brands that have rightfully have the label of “haute couture.”
Balenciaga is a popular luxury brand founded in Spain. Its style has evolved over the years to where they’ve begun to appeal to those in the streetwear demographic. The Balenciaga Triple S trainers are hot and well-received — but this is a perfect example of fashion-forward brands going backward and into territory they wouldn’t have dreamed of touching.
My appreciation for streetwear is separate to my admiration of high-end fashion. On a cozy trip to the store, class or around town, streetwear serves its comfy chic purpose. My issue is that it is quickly creeping its way up into the light of brands such as Marc Jacobs, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent.
Keep the hype of streetwear and high fashion designers separate! The history of designers, such as the late Karl Lagerfeld, and the hard work that comes into these high pressure jobs is a different game than West who already has a leg up in the industry with his music career — and that needs to be recognized. The impact of runway and couture is everlasting and should be held on a separate pedestal that streetwear simply should not try to achieve.