Tag Archives Streetwear

From the Streets to the Runway: How Hip-Hop Refashioned Pop Culture

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Born in New York City, hip-hop began as a 1970s subculture celebrating music and dance among Black youths. A force of camaraderie, creativity, and self-expression, hip-hop pioneered innovative new styles that proliferated across the country. Over the course of the past five decades, hip-hop music grew from a fringe subculture to a prominent voice in pop culture. Its lasting impact on the industry is especially evident in streetwear, the most pervasive trickle-up macrotrend to date. Hip-hop has become an influential role in contemporary fashion, inspiring novel trends, generating commercial viability for partner brands, and giving rise to the streetwear market as we know it today. 

For his Spring/ Summer ‘17 runway show, Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia sent his models down the runway in oversized windbreakers with BALENCIAGA splashed across their chests. Color-block, volume, logo-mania, androgyny the collection embodied the streetwear-centric zeitgeist of the decade while also paying homage to the ethos of the 1980s. Formerly Vetements’ Creative Director, Gvasalia’s debut at Balenciaga sparked the brand’s transformation into a streetwear giant. As The New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman noted, “The extreme, almost antifashion streetwear aesthetic of Vetements might seem the opposite of the historically elitist Balenciaga.”

Balenciaga Windbreaker at S/S’18 RTW Runway. Photo Credits: https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/spring-2018-ready-to-wear/balenciaga

Balenciaga’s drastic transformation was far from an anomaly in the fashion industry; in fact, it seems that streetwear is one of the most pervasive macro-trends on the runway, only trickling farther up into the luxury sector each season. It has given rise to numerous subcultures, such as hypebeasts and sneakerheads, and in turn, an unprecedented number of new second-hand resale vendors dedicated solely to streetwear. 

However, what is often unrecognized and appropriated are the historical and cultural roots of streetwear: this $300 billion industry is indebted to hip-hop, a sub-cultural movement pioneered by Black youth in the 1970s. In Sacha Jenkins’ Fresh Dressed, a 2015 documentary on hip-hop fashion, she stated that “Fashion has always been an important part of the hip-hop identity because fashion has always been an important part of Black identity in America… Because when you don’t have much ownership over where you can land in society, your financial situation, your educational situation, the one thing you can control is the way you look.” 

Hip-hop fashion first emerged  in New York City in the 1970s as a visual counterpart to rap music. Caribbean and African-American teens in disenfranchised parts of the city created a sense of unity by hosting block parties, where they danced to funk and soul, utilizing turntables to extend the dance break. They began to add instruments and elements of different songs to the breakbeat, generating new music and forming the foundations of hip-hop music. In addition to breakdancing, they began MCing during these dance breaks to encourage each other to dance, which quickly grew into DJing and what is known as rapping today. In 1978, rappers coined the term “hip-hop” to refer to the movements exhibited by the dancers during raps. 

As hip-hop developed into a prominent fringe culture among Black youths, they transposed the music into a larger cultural phenomenon, which was especially manifested in their attire. From the get-go, dress was a crucial component to their performances, as each rapper would compete to dress better than the last. 1970s NYC photographers such as Henry Chalfant and Ricky Flores captured staples of these nascent days of streetwear as they proliferated across the city and eventually the East Coast: baggy jeans, oversized t-shirts, baseball caps, and chunky sneakers.

Ricky Flores, Tanco, South Bronx, 1984. Photo Credits: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-12-photographers-who-captured-hip-hop-from-old-school-to-the-90s

As breakdancing became increasingly physical in the 1980s, rappers and dancers established four main moves: toprock, downrock, power moves, and freezes. Known as b-boys and b-girls, the dancers would wear Adidas track suits and Puma or Adidas superstar sneakers to accommodate their acrobatic movements. Athletic labels most notably Nike, PUMA, Reebok, Adidas, and FILA became a motif of hip-hop fashion. The increasingly prevalent b-boy community propagated streetwear as a lifestyle, galvanizing sportswear into a fashion trend for the first time. By the end of the decade, hip-hop fashion had become a force of unity, self-expression, and solidarity among Black teens.

The 1980s catalyzed an unprecedented wave of hip-hop music production, which, in turn, increased the commercial viability of hip-hop fashion. In 1982, Wild Style, a film about a South Bronx graffiti artist who paints the backdrop for a rap concert, also helped increase the visibility of hip-hop culture across the nation. In response, sportswear brands, who had long been central to hip-hop culture, quickly began to capitalize upon the marketing potential of hip-hop artists.

Adidas Custom Line for Run-D.M.C. Photo Credits: https://fashionhistory.fitnyc.edu/1980-1989/

For instance, in 1986, hip-hop group Run-D.M.C. performed their hit single “My Adidas” at Madison Square Garden and encouraged the audience to hold their Adidas in the air. After a sea of Adidas superstars shot into the air, the sneaker brand invested in a 1 million dollar endorsement deal for the group, which included a custom sneaker line. After Adidas’ endorsement deal, a slew of other mainstream sportswear brands invested in collaborations with hip-hop groups as well. As Glenn Collins remarked in The New York Times in 1988, “Hip-hop’s influence on advertising is unmistakable. A print ad in Reebok’s new $35 million campaign shows 20-, 30- and 40-year-old whites dancing on a graffiti-bedaubed, hip-hoppy city street. A New Way of Writing It and other Reebok ads, adopting the orthography of rap hits like M. C. Lyte’s ”I Cram 2 Understand U (Sam),” proclaim: ”Reeboks Let U.B.U.” By the end of the decade, hip-hop music had become a powerful outreach tool in the sportswear industry. 

The early 90s gave rise to the inception of independent streetwear labels. Renowned graffiti artists such as KAWS began selling their paintings on t-shirts rather than canvases, while Rappers such as Puff Daddy founded their own apparel lines rather than collaborating with mass retailers. Brands such as the North Face and Timberland struggled to keep up, incorporating a hip-hop-inspired aesthetic into their new collections. 

Puff Daddy and Kate Moss by Annie Leibovitz for Vogue US October 1999. Photo credits: https://thecitizensoffashion.com/2013/09/21/vogue-us-october-1999-puffy-takes-paris/

At the same time, as hip-hop boomed in the music industry, artists began to turn towards luxury consumption, in part as a status symbol and in part to disrupt fashion’s racial status quo. Some of the first designer labels rappers incorporated into their wardrobe were Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, as they had been traditionally marketed towards an upper-class, white demographic. Though luxury fashion and hip-hop remained separate since the genre’s inception, rappers’ increasingly flashy logos dismantled racial stereotypes associated with high fashion and catalyzed the first wave of logo-mania in fashion. Their evolving aesthetic received criticism for departing from the authentic origins of hip-hop, but the burgeoning power of rap stars in fashion was undeniable. In Annie Leibovitz’ seminal spread in Vogue, Puffy Takes Paris, in October 1999, the rapper is lavishly styled among some of the most prominent and exclusive figures in fashionKarl Lagerfeld, Oscar de la Renta, Kate Moss, John Galliano, just to name a few. Leibovitz’ pivotal photo shoot indicated the fashion bible’s endorsement of this new genre and lifestyle. 

Throughout the 2000s, fashion brands became a common name-drop in rap music. For instance, Lil Pump’s Gucci Gang (2018), which coincided with the brand’s aesthetic transition into streetwear, catalyzed a wave of aspirational Gucci-mania among teenagers and millennial’s. In 2019, Fendi, Balenciaga, and Gucci were featured a total of 664 times in rap songs. 

A$AP Rocky as Face of Dior’s Fall 2016 Campaign. Photo Credits: https://wwd.com/business-news/media/aap-rocky-robert-pattinson-kris-van-assche-dior-homme-10454746/

And in turn, rappers and hip-hop artists became name-drops for fashion brands as well. For one, they became coveted models for fashion brands’ campaigns and runways. For instance, Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent, and Marc Jacobs featured Playboi Carti, Travis Scott, and Princess Nokia, respectively, prior to new collection drops. Alexander Wang, whose line is recognized for its youthful spirit, street culture inspiration, and ultra-cool, downtown aesthetic, featured Pusha T, Kanye, Travis Scott, and A$AP Rocky in his “Do Something” Campaign. And, most notably, after modeling for Dior Homme, Guess, and Japanese sportswear brand Needles, among many others, A$AP Rocky became the star of Calvin Kelin’s #MyCalvins campaigns. 

Collaborations with rappers — such as Travis Scott’s line with Helmunt Lang, Pharrell’s collaboration with Chanel, or Versace’s sunglass line inspired by The Notorious B.I.G.— became almost commonplace as well. The attendance of hip-hop artists at prestigious industry events also communicated their status in the fashion industry. At the highly-exclusive 2018 Met Gala, A$AP Ferg, Migos, Nicki Minaj and Childish Gambino garnered global publicity for their costumes and invitations. In anticipation of the event, Vogue had released a promotional video of Anna Wintour in a Chanel gown at the Met with Coolio’s “Gangsta Paradise” playing in the background. Wintour’s shocking music selection signaled that hip-hop was high on her radar. And at Alexander Wang’s A/W 2018 runway, Wintour, who is usually seated next to top editors and even royalty in the past, was placed next to Cardi B, signaling the prominence of hip-hop artists in fashion.  

The role of hip-hop in fashion extends far beyond celebrity marketing or name drops in songs. This past decade, in particular, hip-hop has been a salient force of creative influence in the industry. Numerous exclusive labels have rebranded themselves in these past few years to adapt to our streetwear-centric market. For instance, in 2016, Gucci’s peacocking-bearing skateboard model embodied the brand’s new image: slightly androgynous in style, unabashedly loud, sporty yet hip, and effortlessly cool. In 2017, months prior to the launch of Supreme and Louis Vuitton’s masterful collaboration, Marc Jacobs showcased a polished red tracksuit, adorned with a chunky gold chain and 70s-style hat, amidst his Ready-to-Wear collection.

Hip-hop Inspired Track Suit at Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2017 RTW Runway. Photo credits: https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/fall-2017-ready-to-wear/marc-jacobs

And today, situated at the corner of Lafayette and Bleeker in NoHo, New York, the sneaker-centric retailer Kith is every millennial’s streetwear heaven. It generates some of the highest foot-traffic in Soho, attracting crowds of customers lined up outside the store waiting to catch a glimpse of a new collaboration or sneaker drop. Off White, Supreme, and Chinatown Market are some of the most coveted labels on second-hand resale shops and streetwear boutiques. Though still highly inaccessible, designer streetwear is a testament to the lasting influence of hip-hop fashion.

Streetwear, arguably one of the most pervasive trickle-up trends in industry history, is directly shaped and inspired by hip-hop culture from the 1970s. Luxury heritage houses and leaders in the industry alike have endorsed and adopted the aesthetic of hip-hop culture. In doing so, however, they have appropriated and contributed to the erasure of the movement’s racial and historical implications, failing to acknowledge the symbolism behind this sub-cultural movement. Though streetwear is commonplace across the market today, it is necessary to recognize the cultural significance of hip-hop’s inception, as well as the creative agency of its pioneers. From a fringe subculture that united a marginalized community to one of the most ubiquitous forms of expression today, hip-hop has refashioned mainstream dress and forged an unprecedented bridge between fashion and music. And most importantly, it subverts fashion’s status quo by challenging racial hierarchies and dismantling the binary between the streets and the runway.

Read more fashion articles at Clichemag.com
Photo credits: Vogue Magazine, Artsy.net, FIT, Citizens of Fashion, WWD, and Vogue Runway.

A Closer Look at the Ongoing Merger Between Streetwear and Luxury Fashion

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As urban culture continues to become more mainstream around the world, the line between streetwear and luxury fashion is actually starting to blur to the point of being almost indistinguishable. If you visit any high fashion store or browse through any online catalog, you’re bound to encounter examples of the growing “streetwear x luxury” trend.

It seems that everywhere you turn, urban culture is fusing with high fashion at an astounding pace. What sparked this movement, and how long will it continue? Are streetwear brands making a permanent transition into the luxury market? We’ll aim to answer those questions and more in this detailed look at the ongoing merger between streetwear and luxury fashion:

StockSnap / Pixabay

Are Jordans (the Official Sneaker of Streetwear) Considered High Fashion Now?

Just ten years ago, basic athletic and basketball sneakers like the Air Jordan 1s were commonplace and could easily be purchased for affordable prices. You never had to worry about paying more than $100-$200 for a pair of the latest Jordans. Nowadays, that same pair of Air Jordan 1s might be sold online for 2-10x the original price due to the growing wave of sneaker collectors. 

Exclusivity has always been a part of high fashion, and much of the value attributed to designer Jordans comes from the rareness of these unique specimens of Airness. In many ways, the Jordan brand is even taking colorway cues from other luxury brands, which was the case in the Gucci-inspired Air Jordan 4 that dropped this year.

The idea of seeing a pair of Jordan 1s on the runway in 2009 was sort of unthinkable because back then it was still just known as an athletic shoe with nostalgic appeal. Fast forward to 2019 and we’re seeing pictures of models sporting Jordans on the runway every other week. Luckily, there are still some affordable current Jordan 1 styles that you can get your hands on, as the brand hasn’t gone completely Balenciaga on us just yet.

Streetwear Buyers are Aging and Becoming Wealthier

streetwear and luxury fashion

Pexels / Pixabay

Why are so many fashion snobs and designer clothing buyers now more accepting of the urban style in general? It may just be that the people who used to buy regular streetwear as kids and teenagers are now all grown up both mentally and financially. To them, buying a $100 pair of sneakers just doesn’t feel like a power purchase any more.

Of course, companies like Nike and Adidas aren’t going to stand by and leave money on the table, so they’re happily catering to their maturing customer base with more exclusive and increasingly expensive releases.

Partnering with designer clothing brands is an easy way for streetwear and athletic brands to associate their brand with high fashion via collaboration, much in the same way that a musical artist would catch the attention of new fans by paying for a feature from an established artist in the industry they’re trying to attract attention in. Speaking of musical collaborations, the music industry itself may have played a significant role in the rise of the urban luxury trend, which brings us to what may be the real origin of the movement.

Did Entertainers Mentioning Designer Brands Start All of This?

streetwear and luxury fashion

PublicCo / Pixabay

One has to wonder whether brands like Gucci, Burberry, and Prada would have become so popular with the streetwear crowd if rappers, athletes, and other celebrities hadn’t explicitly endorsed them. While some of these endorsements were probably the result of covert paid sponsorships, in most cases it was a just a matter of celebrities trying to own and flaunt the most expensive things.

However, one has to question whether it was the ingenious fashion sense of the celebrities or the wise marketing decisions of the fashion brands that started it all. It was most likely the latter, as brands knew they could easily leverage the popularity of influencers to gain customers. 

Endorsement deals offered to celebrities in order to initiate fashion trends is not a new concept. The business relationships between entertainers and fashion brands started years ago and have culminated into the current merger of urban and luxury styles that we see today.

The Result of Unavoidable Shift in Market Demographics, Taste, and Demand

men and streetwear

Pexels / Pixabay

During the past decade, such a large percentage of the luxury market began to consist of streetwear consumers who were looking to level up the extravagance of their spending sprees, a practice commonly referred to as “popping tags” in the urban community.

Through market research, luxury brands eventually discovered that streetwear shoppers were some of their main sources of business. Likewise, streetwear brands began noticing that some of their highest-paying customers were starting to graduate into a higher bracket of the fashion world.

Instead of buying a pair of Nikes, the average consumer might just as easily splurge on a pair of Gucci or Balenciaga sneakers nowadays. In an effort to retain their wealthiest and most affluent customers, streetwear and footwear manufacturers have resorted to piggybacking on the rising popularity of the high fashion industry.

Partnerships Between Designers and Brands Have Always Been Successful

As a result of the two niches so clearly intersecting, streetwear and athletic footwear brands have begun pursuing mutually beneficial arrangements with one another. The luxury designers know that the streetwear market is huge and they want to put their latest releases in front of the massive audiences that brands like Nike and Adidas can deliver.

On the other hand, the big streetwear and sneaker brands know that partnering with designers is an easy way to break into the high fashion sector where it’s easier to charge inflated prices for sneakers that would otherwise sell for a fraction of the price.

urbanwear women

StockSnap / Pixabay

Is the Definition of “Luxury” Determined Only by Demand Now?

Last year, Louis Vuitton appointed streetwear designer Virgil Abloh as their artistic director. Since then, we’ve seen an unprecedented push towards urban design themes in the high-end fashion industry. We’ve also seen certain T-shirts selling for more than leather jackets, which begs us to pose the question: is marketing and demand more important than quality and materials when it comes to defining the meaning of the term “luxury” in today’s market?

Having a superior product or better-looking design seems to hold no weight in comparison to being backed by the fancy name of a household designer brand. One could even argue that the only requirements left for a fashion product to be considered luxury is that it labels itself as such while also generating enough hype to justify its exuberant price tag.

Blame It on the ‘Gram, or “The Streets”?

We’d be remiss if we failed to mention the role that Instagram has played in the symbiotic relationship between streetwear and luxury fashion. In a way, “the streets have spoken” through their Instagram activity, comments, pictures, and stories.

That wouldn’t matter at all if “the streets” weren’t some of the biggest spenders in the industry. While we’re questioning conventional definitions, what exactly does “the streets” mean?

Well, it used to be a term that loosely defined people who live in poor or undesirable neighborhoods, but now that gentrification has fixed much of that and suburbanites have essentially adopted urban fashion, the term seems to no longer make sense.

Even the term “streetwear” – which evolved from “urbanwear,” and was a more inclusive spin-off of the original term “hip-hop clothing” – seems to no longer match its own etymology. But I guess you could say that “it doesn’t have to make sense to make dollars.”

Read more fashion articles at ClichéMag.com
Images provided by Pixabay CC License

Streetwear’s Infiltration of Luxury

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Ever since Off-White founder Virgil Abloh became the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear, every fashion article

about streetwear’s infiltration of luxury fashion. The DJ, Kanye collaborator, and general hypewear beast has been credited with much of the shake up, but streetwear’s Trojan Horse was placed much earlier than that. From Marc Jacobs and Dapper Dan in the 90s, luxury and streetwear have been dipping their toes into each other. And yet, Marc Jacobs received checkered reviews; Fendi and other luxury houses sued Dapper Dan out of business. So what’s changed?

Kim Jones opened the Louis Vuitton streetwear door when he was appointed artistic designer of their men’s streetwear clothing department in 2011. 

In his tenure, Jones did something totally unprecedented in the house’s history and collabed with Supreme. To this day, LV x Supreme is still one of the most hyped up collabs in recent fashion history, drove a 23% increase in brand searches, and brought Louis Vuitton to a more diverse audience. After that, Demna Gvasalia, the founder of Vetements–a streetwear label known for exorbitant prices and massively oversized jackets–became the artistic director of Balenciaga. Under him, Balenciaga is now the fastest growing brand in Kering. And with Kim Jones now at Dior and Virgil Abloh taking the menswear reins at Louis Vuitton, the infiltration of streetwear into luxury houses continues.

In part, this success comes from the shared ethos of luxury and streetwear. In the past, luxury was defined in its exclusivity. However, now anyone can walk into pretty much any mall and find their way to a Gucci belt, but when someone wants the new Off-White, they have to wait for the drop, and there’s no way to know how long they can get it for. It becomes a club. Beyond that, drops bring more excitement to a brand; where fashion weeks are filled with brands all showing their collections, drop allow a single brand to create hype and quickly release something without the competition or dilution.

Streetwear also captures the social media generation. In the words of Gvasalia: “The emphasis has gone from quality and craftsmanship into the uniqueness of the product. The younger generation are looking for something that stands out and makes them special rather than necessarily an amazing finish that you would find with some traditional brands.” By taking up streetwear, luxury has made itself relevant to young people. This total shake-up of the tradition luxury houses by streetwear has been rapid and excited. It’s hard to say how long the lovefest between streetwear and luxury will last, but there is no doubt that there will be lasting effects on fashion.

 

 

Read more Fashion articles at Cliché Magazine

Streetwear’s Infiltration of Luxury; Image Credits: @louisvuitton ; @virgilabloh ; @vetements ; @dapperdanharlem on Instagram

Cultural Vultures: R.I.P. the Subculture of Streetwear

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For generations, subcultures have been defined through the group’s music and fashion to determine the over-arching philosophy that drives them. They are traditionally at odds with the mainstream and are a symbolic form of resistance, so can streetwear be considered a subculture? Yes, but not anymore. It’s safe to say that luxury’s appropriation of streetwear and its popularity in the mainstream has stripped streetwear of its status as a subculture. But before that, how did a style of dress become one of the coolest clubs?

In the 1980s and 90s, subcultures like punk and grunge were mostly defined through the music the members listened to; clothing was used more as a symbolic representation of affiliation to the subculture. The conspicuous consumption (i.e., the spending of money with the purpose of flaunting a belonging to a subculture) was the secondary sign of one’s place in the counterculture. However, music no longer grants one the sense of individuality it used to. During grunge’s reign, people would have to work to be in the know; they would have to read zines or go to underground concerts in order to be in the know. Now that Spotify has opened the music world to everyone, we all listen to everything. Music cannot produce the same sensation of individuality and belonging that is was once able to. So, it fell to clothing.

 

Streetwear’s method of ‘drops’ people once waited for the latest CD, they now line-up for the next Supreme collab. People become connected with one another over shared love of streetwear; you see someone wearing a pair of TripleS sneakers, you know something about them. Not everyone would recognize them; it is something for people within the cult of streetwear to connect over.

ps’ rather than luxury fashion’s cycles of Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer create the same sensation music used to. Where peo

Alek Eror, a contributor at Highsnobiety, wrote, “Streetwear might have a distinct visual identity and have intimate ties to hip-hop, but that doesn’t make it a subculture, because streetwear doesn’t stand for anything side from brand and product.” How is stanning Balenciaga or carefully following Virgil Abloh’s path between Off-White and Louis Vuitton that different from blasting Nirvana and memorizing Kurt Cobain’s lyrics? Where grunge thrived against materialism, streetwear subculture is based in consumerism, on having the latest thing, on knowing who the next big designer is.

However, like how Marc Jacobs killed grunge when he put it on the luxury stage in ’92 and made it even more mainstream, the luxury brands of today are destroying the streetwear subculture. It is no longer a niche group of people invested in a certain style but the prevailing norm of dress.

There was a time where owning something from Supreme was not a status symbol but a sign of belonging to a certain group; now you walk down the street and see every next person in something either bearing Supreme or Thrasher. The soaring prices of luxury streetwear and the mad-grab of many houses to get into streetwear has stripped streetwear of its counter-culture and killed it into the mainstream.

 

Read more Fashion articles at Cliché Magazine
Cultural Vultures: R.I.P. the Subculture of Streetwear; Images Credits: @highsnobiety @balenciaga ; @kyliejenner ; and @off__white via Instagram

Move Over GenZ Yellow, Here Comes Sunkiss Orange

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This summer has been aflame with colors. From GenZ yellow to Coca-Cola red and the old faithful millennial pink, this summer feels like the brightest one in recent history. But the streetwear world moves fast and while cherry red has only really begun its tsunami over our wardrobes, Sunkiss orange will be dawning as the must-wear color soon. Its bright, eye-catching shades alongside its sometimes ugly nature encapsulates the essence of recent style.

For an outfit to be truly stunning on social media, it must be graphic; it has to photograph well, stand out from the background of both the photo and everyone else. Bright colors pop on screens—especially when layered over each other. Orange is the perfect color for that. It is not yet everywhere, so it stands out from the yellows and reds we’ve been seeing while also popping against everything. It also mixes perfectly with the warmth of red and yellow—put them all together to become a traffic cone of graphic style!

 

Perhaps Elle Woods words are ringing in your ears: “Whoever said tangerine was the new pink was seriously disturbed!” Orange is a notoriously ugly color. Most people would argue that orange is not their color, it looks terrible on them, etc, but that only bolsters its relevance. Ugly-cute is all the rage as brands like Balenciaga over-exaggerate proportions until they no longer traditionally appealing but are alluring in a new way. Sunkiss orange provides the same foray. The unpleasant side of the color only heightens its cred.

 

The last time I remember orange taking a large place in wardrobes is when I was kid. Sometime in the early 00s, orange was a favorite color which only plays in to the millennial/GenZ love for nostalgia. Its brightness is a reminder of childhood and playful fun. All of this just adds up to the perfect mix to make Sunkiss orange the next big color to wave over us. After all the pastels of the past, these vibrant, eye-candy of colors are definitely as exciting as they look.

Read more Fashion articles at Cliché Magazine
Move Over GenZ Yellow, Here Comes Sunkiss Orange; Images provided by @sarahfromnewyork; @nytimesfashion;  @hypebae; and @golfwang on Instagram

High Fashion’s Coup of “Low Fashion”

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Last Spring the internet blew up after Balenciaga released a $2,1245 bag that looked eerily similar to Ikea’s iconic blue bag (99¢). It seemed like everyone had something to say about the luxury brand taking over something so quintessentially lowbrow. However, the blending of low and high fashion has been on the rise over the past few years with companies like Moschino debuting a runway inspired by McDonald’s, Louis Vuitton producing their own version of the classic Chinatown shopping bag, and more. As streetwear rises up from Instagram and reaches the runway, it is getting harder and harder to tell a luxury brand from a streetwear brand.

As digital natives begin to take over more and more of the consumer market, nothing has become so paramount to fashion brands as figuring out what they want. With the growth of social media, it is clear that irony, snark, and a certain graphic-ness is necessary for success—and no style captures those areas as well as streetwear. The traditional, high-gloss, status-defining nature of companies like Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Balenciaga has had to shift into something edgier and newer. Thus, we seem to be entering a new era where the lines between what belongs on the streets and what on the runway blur heavily.

After Balenciaga, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele may have been one of the first to capitalize on the power of streetwear sites like Highsnobiety by partnering with them to create a shoppable lookbook for Gucci’s graffiti-inspired 2017 Cruise collection. So, what once was viewed as a niche site catering to a subculture of fashion has now risen to working alongside the biggest and oldest names in fashion, and this shift has happened over the entire fashion world. Louis Vuitton recently appointed Virgil Abloh, the founder of Off-White™, an Italian streetwear label, to be their new artistic director of their menswear division. The Parisian brand also had one of the most hyped drops of 2017 after collabing with Supreme.

The bringing in of low and high culture not only creates a market that reaches out to the younger generations, but also allows companies like Balenciaga to sell sweatshirts for more than $900 as well as make headlines over $1000 shoes that look like what your dad would wear in the 80’s. However, the trickling up of low-fashion goes even further than inspiration. Saint Laurent faced serious backlash after debuting a $3,490 lipstick dress (right) that looked almost identical to a $23 Forever 21 dress (left). Thus, as they take inspiration from lower, more affordable designers, luxury brands are expecting consumers to pay much higher prices under the gauze of name-brand and higher production standards. While “the higher the price, the higher the quality” is mostly a myth, many customers are still inclined to believe it. These luxury brands take inspiration from working-class, college-age trends, recreate them, and sell them for much more profit.

While this isn’t a new practice—trickle-up fashion lead to Marc Jacobs’ attempt to take over grunge at Perry Ellis—luxury’s incorporation of streetwear has been met with mostly success. And although it is nice to see something exciting and relevant to the younger population walk the runways, one can only wonder how many collabs we can see until we get tired of watching luxury brands try to rise streetwear above where we can reach.

 

Read more Fashion articles at Cliché Magazine
High Fashion’s Coup of “Low Fashion”; Image credits: @balenciaga on Instagram; @hypebae on Instagram; Stylecaster on GettyImages

Dior Cruise, Louis Vuitton Cruise, Kristen Stewart: Heels are Out

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As summer begins to ebb over us, it is time for fashion houses to begin displaying their Cruise Collections. Unlike the twice-yearly seasonal collections these brands produce, Cruise Collections are inter-season displays of ready-to-wear clothing—they

 are what we can expect from these brands in fall as well as what we can wear now in the summer. Gucci stole headlines with an aflame runway and eerie sensations; Alexander Wang brought rock fashion back to the forefront, but two runways stood out perhaps less in what they showed and more in what they didn’t. In both Dior’s and LouisVuitton’s Cruise 2019, not one model wore heels across the runway; instead, they were dressed in sneakers and boots.

 

Under the helm of Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior has taken a more political, women-empowering stance; at Dior Cruise last summer, the runway sported feminist re-imaginings of Tarot cards; the fashion house has also made T-shirts with feminist slogans as well as referencing the 60s, second-wave feminist movement in their shows. However, this year’s act of empowerment was much subtler. While models first rode in on horses, it was their feet that ended up being the place of importance: none of Dior’s female models donned heels. Instead, they walked confidently through the rain in boots and sneakers—shoes much more fitting for the created conditions. And then, three days later, none of Louis Vuitton’s

 Cruise 2019 models did either.

 

The lack of heels at these two shows is a response to two major movements: luxury streetwear and female empowerment. While the latter sounds more important, it would not have reached the high-end fashion world had streetwear not first infiltrated it. We currently live in a world where a sneaker drop constitutes lines for hours, impassioned fans, and aggressive eBay battering. Sneakers are no 

longer the ugly shoes your father wore to mow the lawn or you plod in at gym class; sneakers now have a place at the luxury fashion table—and not for cheap. As Demna Gvasalia, the creator of Vetements

and now Creative Director for Balenciaga, and Virgil Abloh, founder of Off White and now Artistic Director for Louis Vuitton’s menswear, move from street to high-end fashion, they are bringing urban aspects with them. Traditional fashion houses are now collabing and dropping sneakers in a comparable manner to recent “low-fashion” brands. The rise of streetwear has made kicks more luxury-mainstream and have pushed heels off to the side.

 

However, the real reason heels may be out this summer was displayed to us by Kristen Stewart at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The actress has had a long history of swapping the classic red-carpet-heeled look for something more comfortable like Converse, but at Cannes, she went even further. This year, Stewart removed her heels and walked barefoot across the red carpet, telling Hollywood Reporter, “There’s definitely a distinct dress code, right?…If you’re not asking guys to wear heels and a dress, you cannot ask me either.” Heel’s while glamorous, are notorious for being

uncomfortable and feminine. Stewart’s rejection of being forced to be uncomfortable for beauty standards is a powerful statement about a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body. Dior and LV’s runways, while subtle, left out those images of feminine expectation. Women no longer have to wear heels—they can be fashionable and glamorous without them.

 

Heels have been an integral part of western fashion for centuries; to say they are going out of fashion or are ‘cancelled’ is foolish. They will always be a part of our style culture. However, Dior and Louis Vuitton’s Cruise Collections make it clear that they are no longer the rule or expectation for women. As fashion goes further and further into androgyny and gender non-conforming paths (Gucci’s show featured both female and male models), we can be sure to expect more subtle subversions.

 

Read more Fashion articles at Cliché Magazine
Dior Cruise, Louis Vuitton Cruise, Kristen Stewart: Heels are Out; Image credits: @dior on Instagram; @louisvuitton on Instagram; Tristan Fewings on GettyImages

Virgil Abloh Teases Louis Vuitton at Met Gala

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The Met Gala is one of the biggest events on the fashion calendar, giving designers a place to not only showcase jaw-dropping works of art but also to debut new pieces. Within the flurry of fashion paradise, Virgil Abloh debuted one of his first pieces for Louis Vuitton. Although the founder of the label Off-White has yet to have his inaugural runway show for the luxury brand (it is set for June), he utilized the Met Gala to premiere the new path Louis Vuitton will see.

Perhaps the most telling aspect of Abloh’s future is the image he and his date struck. The designer wore an all-white suit with embroidery detail of a church’s stained glass from what will be the designer’s first Louis Vuitton Runway. Alongside the suit that will be seen in the designer’s runway this June, Abloh was one of the few men on the runway wearing a pair of sneakers. The made Off-White x Air Jordan 1s had Abloh’s signature graphic print and deconstruction. His Met Gala choice defines the designer’s interest in mixing low- and high-culture while the suit details Abloh’s ability to transcend the world of t-shirts and hoodies into luxury. The sneakers show that just because a piece is haute doesn’t mean it can’t be street.

Beside the designer was no other than this date, Kendall Jenner. As a pinnacle of youth culture, the model wore an all white Off-White jumpsuit alongside a pair of Jimmy Choo x Off-White heels. Although the two were dressed in Abloh’s differing brands, both pieces were conceptualized by a shared interest in streetwear overtaking high-fashion—as well as detailing Abloh’s dedication to his future at Louis Vuitton and his past at Off-White. The symbolism of placing himself in LV and Kendall in Off-White captures a piece of Abloh’s ideology going forward with both brands. He told the New York Times, “Off-White is for the seventeen-year-old version of myself, whereas Louis Vuitton is for the thirty-seventy-year old me.” The teenage skater vibe of Off-White will stay with the brand, and Louis Vuitton will maintain its refined, tailored look but something more ‘cool’ is definitely on its way.

Louis Vuitton’s appointment of Abloh showcases the brand’s desire to change. The days of luxury brands being remote and inaccessible are over; now is the time for the approachable, street-friendly clothing that millennials and Generation Z are interested in. After working as Kanye West’s creative director and founding one of the largest, most influential streetwear brands in 2013, Abloh has long had his finger on the pulse of all things cool. The Met Gala granted us a glimpse at what the interbreeding of street and luxury-wear will bring and there’s no doubt our eyes are hungry for more.

 

Read more Fashion articles at Cliché Magazine
Virgil Abloh Teases Louis Vuitton at Met Gala: Image credits: David Fisher on Shuttershock; @hypebeast on Instagram; @virgilabloh on Instagram

Seoul, South Korea is the New Fashion Capital of the World

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With Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler, and Rodarte—to name a few— pulling out of New York Fashion Week, one has to wonder if the world is searching for a new fashion hub. If it is, the search goes further than the Western cities of the past. Seoul, South Korea steps up to the plate as its Fashion Week gains more and more attention. Korean fashion has been on a rise in the West for a few year, but now it is clear to see that the future of fashion can be found in the East.

 

Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising. Since the early 10s, an infectious obsession with Korean music, tv, beauty products, and technology has run rampant in the US

Seoul, South Korea is the New Fashion Capital of the Worldand Europe. The nation’s status as cultural trendsetter has been thoroughly established, so it only makes sense that now come the clothes. However, as the city’s Fashion Week reaches adulthood this year after beginning in 2000, it has taken some time for Seoul’s style to reach the international stage—Chanel only had its first show in Seoul in 2015 and they were quickly followed by Dior who opened a six-story flagship store only a few months later. Nevertheless, almost every major Western fashion magazine has included a piece about the Seoul’s rise in the international fashion world.

 

Korean fashion also looks massively different than what one would expect from most Western brands. Compared to the chic looks expected of Paris, the sharp tailoring of Milan, and the utilitarianism of New York, Seoul offers a fashion born from the streets. Overall it looks like 90s hiphop style mixed heavy androgyny and logomania or, in other words, Korean fashion has taken on sensory overload in a physical manner. It as though the entire city has taken the Western fashion scaffolding, took some inspiration, and then tore it down to create something wholly singular. It is pointedly young and, to be a part of it, demands swag.

 

Perhaps some of reason there has been such a slow-burn in regard to Korean fashion in the West—especially when compared to the rapid spread of KPOP and other Korean media—comes from the genderless vein much Korean fashion takes on. Rather than have different shows for men- and womenswear, Seoul only has one Fashion Week which features male and female models walking the same runway; there is no true gendering of clothes.

 

In a country that was only formed 1953, there are no 100-year-old fashion brands; the legacy isn’t there. So when aspiring designers leave school, they don’t have established fashion houses to go work in. Instead, the young, talented designers must lead it themselves. Thus, the youth-driven fashion rife with modern pop culture fills the streets. Given South Korea’s cultural impact in the West before, as well as the growing attention given to Seoul Fashion Week, hopefully we will be injected soon with some of these over-the-top clothes.

 

Read more Fashion articles at Cliché Magazine
Seoul, South Korea is the New Fashion Capital of the World: Images provided by @kuraeji on Instagram

Converse x Virgil Abloh is the Collaboration You Need to See

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In a world of street style collaborations, it’s easy to always be interested in what’s next. In this case, the next major release is the Converse x Virgil Abloh sneakers.

Many know of Virgil Abloh, one of the newest creative masterminds to the streetwear game, and fashion’s busiest man. Between being the chief executive officer and founder of the high-end streetwear fashion house Off-White, as well as the newly appointed artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear, Virgil has also recently collaborated with Converse to release his version of High Tops.

Street style is taking off and selling out. It isn’t just the exclusivity of these collaborations that attract consumers. It is also the hype behind it. Major streetwear brands like Supreme and Off-White are able to sell anything they put their brand logo on. Some consumers may be attracted to the kitchiness, but many also buy these exclusive products for their resale value. Items like the Off-White Air Jordan 1s, which dropped in March, were sold at $190 and have an average resale price upwards of $1,700.

Now, in yet another collaboration with Nike, Virgil Abloh is producing his version of the Converse Chuck Taylors. This sneaker is one of “The Ten,” a Nike collaboration with Virgil Abloh which features ten of Nike’s iconic shoes from the past and present. Set to release on May 10th, these shoes have a translucent upper and a printed midsole with the word “VULCANIZED,” in true Off-White form. These shoes are expected to be priced at $160, although the resale value will likely be ten times that amount.

Around a hype like this, there are always critics. Many feel as though Virgil is stretching himself too thin in order to make the most profit. The creative artist received negative backlash after signing with Louis Vuitton, including from industry professionals. Karl Lagerfeld himself was even quoted by French magazine Numéro, when asked which designer, between Virgil Abloh, Jacquemus, and Jonathan Anderson, he would prefer to be stranded on a desert island with. He responded: “I’d kill myself first.” A critique like this could be more based on Virgil’s character than brand, but the disrespect he has garnered from major designers is still prevalent. Many feel as though he is more of an artist than a creative director, and therefore Louis Vuitton is only trying to make their brand more relevant because of the hype around him.  

The days of going to the neighborhood shoe store and buying the latest fashion are long gone. The exclusivity of sneakers has made them more of an investment and less accessible. As it is, you must be willing to wait in line for countless hours for just a shoe. Although Virgil may have some haters, his brand is always developing and his products are still major releases that sell out within seconds.

Read more fashion articles at Cliché Magazine Images provided by Flickr CC License
Converse x Virgil Abloh is the Collaboration You Need to See: Featured Image Credit: Converse