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In the past couple years, pieces from high fashion have found their way into streetwear and the line has began blur between high fashion and streetwear as two separate styles. It is no secret that hip hop music has had heavy influence in this. Of course, streetwear as a style was initially popularized by rappers. Jordan’s, NBA jerseys, flat brim hats, and baggy clothes were what it started out as in its early stages. In the mid 90’s, brands like Supreme and Bape emerged and would lead the era of streetwear brands, designed with the sole purpose of being streetwear clothing, being the overwhelmingly popular option for dressing in a streetstyle. Loud, flashy designs with the brand’s logo plastered across the clothing were what defined the style. Around 2003, however, Kanye West emerged on the scene. He not only brought a new sound in his music, he wore a pink polo and Louis Vuitton backpack in the public eye as a rapper.
Kanye in the early 2000’s, wearing his trademark pink polo
This was unprecedented, as everyone expected rappers to be tough and street, not to wear something as flamboyant as a pink polo. He achieved major success after this and was the first to send the message that not all rappers had to be macho tough guys, setting up the collision of high fashion and hip hop. Unsurprisingly, Kanye nowadays heavily involves himself with high fashion and following in his steps, many other rappers do as well. Name drops of luxury brands such as Givenchy, Rick Owens, Raf Simons, Balmain, Balenciaga, and even newer brands such as Damir Doma have become commonplace. Despite the fact runway fashion has trickled down to the street level, streetwear has never found its way to the runway. It makes sense too; it is hard to picture elegant flowing dresses, menacing leather outerwear, and delicately patterned shirts next to the blatant branding of a Supreme box logo hoodie. Streetwear simply had no place in its current state on the runway. Enter Virgil Abloh.
Virgil and Kanye attending a Paris Fashion Week show
The 34 year old former architect and Chicago native is Kanye’s creative director and has been since 2002. And, like Kanye, is a fan of both hip hop and high end fashion. He has been seen wearing high end pieces and attending fashion shows, his interest in runway is more than apparent. It would make sense that being surrounded by all this creative influence, Virgil would want to design clothes. Thus, he founded Pyrex Vision.
Pyrex was, by Virgil’s own description, an art project where he intended to only work with a single graphic. The Pyrex graphic was simply the word “PYREX” in blocky white letters. The graphic was put across the front of blank athletic shorts from the sportswear company Champions, and the shorts were sold for $60.
The quality was on par with all the regular shorts from Champions, which retail for around $15. While many people bought the shorts for the hype behind the graphic, many others (possibly the same people buying the shorts) ranted that it was a ripoff to pay four times the price of normal shorts for a word written across the crotch. The same complaints of been made about all streetwear companies, notably Supreme who’s famous box logo hoodie retails $138. Despite complaints, every time Supreme drops the famous hoodie (once a year), it sells out within literal seconds and often sells on the secondhand market for double or triple the retail price. The same was happening for Pyrex, the shorts sold out with rapidity and were selling for exponentially increased prices on the secondhand market. Perhaps Virgil noticed he wasn’t really creating fashion and was simply marketing hype, or he was bored of the limitations of the Pyrex graphic. Either way, a few years later in 2012, Virgil Abloh founded Off-White ℅ Virgil Abloh.
Off-White ℅ Virgil Abloh
Virgil stated from the start of Off-White that he wished to bridge the gap between high fashion and streetwear. The iconic graphic for Off-White was an image of horizontal hazard stripes and the word “WHITE” in all capital letters. It seemed impossible that the man who had been selling Champions shorts for four times the price to the streetwear and hypebeast crowd would be able to create anything worthy of being deemed “fashion”, let alone make it to the runway while seeming to stick to the same hypebeast-fueled ideas.
Virgil set out to prove his doubters wrong three years ago, and since then has had three seasons of collections shown during various fashion weeks. How did he manage to create a far more serious image of a creator of content for himself after being known as “Mr. Pyrex Shorts” and “Kanye’s dude” for so many years?
The first thing, though it seems superficial and irrelevant, was the pricing. Pyrex hoodies retailed for around $200 and shorts for of course $60. The same kids who were buying Supreme and wearing Nikes were able to buy Pyrex, assuming they bought it before it sold out. The brand Pyrex became associated with the idea of an hype-driven teenager dressed in the latest Jordan release, a Supreme box logo hoodie, a five-panel hat, and Pyrex shorts to complete the look. This was a look considered juvenile and frankly, bad, by anyone involved in the high fashion industry and any active consumer of high end clothes. To create a new image for himself, Virgil needed to do something to that would seem counterintuitive to any business-minded person; he needed to make his product inaccessible to his core demographic, hoping a higher income demographic with more refined taste would take him in. Off-White retails at high end boutiques alongside other designers. Websites such as SSENSE, Antonioli, and Luisa Via Roma carry Off-White, as does high-end department store Barney’s New York. So far, Virgil’s image revamping plan has worked – sort of. While many high end consumers have embraced Off-White and wore it with other designer pieces as Virgil had hoped, others called it tacky and overpriced, seeing it as Pyrex 2.0. Off-White’s critics claim that just like Pyrex, Off-White’s only unique feature is it’s easily recognized graphic, meaning it was still simply overpriced streetwear.
While Off-White does moderately revolve around a single graphic (hazard stripes accompanied by the word “WHITE”), it has managed to free itself from the graphic being the sole reason pieces sold. Unique touches (subtle patterns, patchwork, distressing) as well as higher quality materials (100% wool, high-grade cotton, heavyweight denim) give worth to pieces outside of hype for a logo. And while the relatively heavy use of the graphic is unlike other brands of similar price, it keeps the brand true to its streetwear roots and is part of the reason Off-White is able to bridge the gap between the high end world and the street, not only exist in one or the other.
In fact, in Off-White fashion week collections, the logo is hardly present. Save for a few hints and nods, the focus during collections is the proportions of the silhouettes and the tailoring of the garments. In the latest Off-White S/S 2016 collection, the focus was on playing with proportions in typical workwear, with the collection fittingly named “Blue Collar”.
The collection was based around the colors black and blue and featured very loose-fitting pieces, wide and billowing. The intentionally ill-fitting garments, as well as wide and thick-soled sandals, had models appearing small in their clothing, like a boy in his father’s suit. Denim workshirts, dirty ponchos, and rain ponchos helped show the grittiness of the working class models and the avant-garde tailoring paired with asymmetrical detailing and distressing kept the show interesting. In the midst of all this, the word “WHITE” still peeked out here and there, a patch of hazard stripe every now and then, demonstrating faith to his streetwear roots. The show received positive reception and positively surprised those who expected a generic Pyrex 2.0 logo plastered mess – of which included me.
Viewing “Blue Collar” amidst flipping through a week of collections drew me into the world of Off-White and made me excited to see what Virgil and his team have in store for the future to blur the lines between the runway and the street even further.
The past few days, New York has been host to a variety of designers from around the world and their offerings for spring/summer menswear. The runway was host to a number of styles as always, traditional menswear, contemporary, even avant-garde. The new kid on the block at this NYMFW was the streetwear style. Streetwear has always been closely linked to high fashion, with pieces from designers always being incorporated into streetwear outfits. However, streetwear has never taken its own spot on the runway the same way it did this week.
American brand John Elliott + Co presented their second ever runway collection, with their first being fall/winter NYFW. Among fashion boards and forums, John Elliott + Co is known for making basic, but high quality pieces. Though popular and essential to streetwear, many wondered how such a seemingly simple brand could manifest itself on the runway. With a simple and solid fall/winter show, Elliott was off to a decent start. The question was; how could he expand on this for his next show while staying true to his signature basic style? Running Through Vietnam, Elliott’s S/S 2016 menswear collection, was given as an answer. The models came out, dressed in greys and muted earth tones. Rugged military style jackets, vests, and shirts adorned with pockets were the first layer in many looks. Running thermals and athletic hoodies accompanied them. Sweat drenched the faces of every model. Green bandannas were tied around necks. The immediate impression given by the collection was that it did in fact take place in Vietnam. The earthiness and raggedness of the show connected what the Vietnam War truly was; dirty, grimey, and fought by soldiers who were sick and tired. Though the military inspiration was obvious, it was not the military inspiration seen in the collections of Balmain. It was not from the view of the general, but rather the footsoldier.
The New York-based Public School made a strong appearance in order to defend their home turf. As with their past collections, the S/S 2016 show from the brand displayed extreme minimalism. A simple but tasteful palette of black, white, and navy were perfect choices for the large amounts of color blocking. The only deviations from the solid colors present were several plaid shirts, mostly hidden under outer layers, and a simple line grid pattern. A faint shininess was almost always visible on the traditional blazers, youthful bomber jackets, and modernistic double-zip fleeces which served as the collection’s outerwear. The contrast of shirts buttoned to the neck and blazers against flat brim baseball hats and loose bomber jackets showed the mixing of streetwear and traditional menswear that much of both high fashion and streetwear seem to be undergoing. With several blazer looks, thick-soled high top sneakers were used to further this idea. Twitter and Instagram famous teenage model Luka Sabbat was featured in the show, giving the message that the youth of this newest generation do desire to involve themselves with, influence, and innovate fashion. Public School has shown that fashion is getting ready to move itself with the next generation.
Robert Geller, like Public School and John Elliott + Co, is based in the US. Though unlike the two, Geller has always designed runway shows and has had little-to-none involvement in streetwear. Though he stuck to his high fashion roots, Geller did incorporate several standout pieces which displayed streetwear elements. First, athletic shorts with an elastic waistband seemed almost out of place paired with a loose, drapey coat and flowing shirt. Shortly after, a quarter zip hooded vest appears, and can be noted as the only zipper displayed in the collection. The vest is made of a technical fleece material and appears in contrast to the silky flow of the rest of the collection. Besides these two articles, the models are curiously draped in billowing trousers, similarly flowing shirts, low-cut tees, and baggy outerwear. High waisted pants, sashes, and belts cut across midsections of loose fabrics to create what appears to be a feminine silhouette. Footwear carried this feminine element as well, single strap shoes were given large windows on the tops and were worn without socks. Tall grey hats, reminiscent of World War II military helmets, cover the heads and shadowed the eyes of models, contributing the androgyny of the show. Containing both youthful elements of street style and breaking gender confinements assigned to men, Geller’s collection proved itself to be forward and refreshing.
But, like any style moment – be it edgy summer floral wear, color dress shoes or retro sneakers – there are some who catch wind of the trend, splurge on the latest threads, and when putting it all together, sadly get it all wrong.
Despite the casual ease that street chic implies, it can be difficult to pull off such a youthful look without looking like a wanna-be teen in the process. In this article we’re going to take a look at what it takes to be ‘street chic’ – avoiding any chance of an outfit double up with a fashion forward fifteen-year-old.
Breaking It Down
Street chic is exactly what it sounds like: the surf/hip-hop/skate elements of American youth culture mixed with the likes of optimal, luxury labels. Combine synthetic fabrics (think nylons, neoprenes and satins) with cotton, cashmere and woollen fabrics; bringing texture to the outfits.
Then, remember to retain clean lines and correct fit. Street chic may give off a less structured and relaxed vibe than tailored pieces, but structure is paramount – avoid baggy tops and saggy bottoms. Finally, focus on minor details, like leather caps, tech savvy watches and cashmere scarfs to give street chic that final kick. It’s all about going from ‘eek’ to ‘chic’ in one fell swoop.
Nothing says ‘street chic’ more than monochrome. Pairing solid blacks with bursts of white is a foolproof look for luxury streetwear, instantly dressing up any combination.
The tonal look that monochrome gives is all about wearing the outfit as one uniformed hue, and then adding pops of difference such as metallic zips, fabric contrasts (think leather backpacks on cotton jackets) and even wearing sneakers that carry a slight print or a bold burst of color, with an otherwise pared back outfit.
Just the same as you would with a smartphone, it’s time to upgrade the 2D prints in your wardrobe or move onto the real digital prints. These intricate fashion prints aren’t your average navy blue stripe or polka dot, they’re a more sophisticated graphic or pattern that projects a story onto the fabric.
The patterns are often life inspired and graphic, and often look molecular and futuristic in style because of the level of detail. Far more ‘mature’ than a typical print, work these graphics into tees and shirts, while letting the rest of your outfit be monochrome in style.
If you want to take the digital print a little further, think about incorporating digital patterns below the belt. Street chic can be a pair of patterned shorts or pants as the centerpiece of a monochrome outfit; remember the secret to chic is one burst of pop styled with a monochrome base.
Ultimate Chic Footwear
Sneakers really should be your only ‘street’ footwear consideration. And the ‘chic’ follows quickly in toe when you invest in a premium pair. Nothing gym ready is required here, we’re not talking about a chunky pair of Adidas with great endorsements for arch support. There’s only one ethos to follow: white for dressy, block colored for the brave and retro for quirky.
Above all, keep the sneakers clean and let the suave kicks do all the ‘street chic’ talking.
For many fashionistas urban style is ultra-cool thanks to the many entertainment and sporting icons that wear such a wide range of designer clothing. Getting the street look has never been more popular, and the great thing about urban chic is that what looks good on the catwalk is easily translated for high-end shops and boutiques, referencing many of the sporting themes the style is built around.
From hip hop to urban
The style started with the emergence of hip-hop among African-American young people in the late 1970s, with sportswear brands attaching themselves to the scene. Over the decades, the styles became known as “urban” and are remained aligned with sportswear, with many top designers in the high fashion industry being inspired by the streetwear and putting clothes and accessories inspired by the street out onto the catwalk.
Who doesn’t have some denim lurking in their closet? The original work clothing has had so many makeovers over the years that it could be forgiven for having an identity crisis, yet denim is ideal for imaginative makeovers and there are always plenty of fresh ideas coming through from major denim designers.
The bright, in-your-face concepts of Pop At are a trend – think Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol — using comic strips and globally recognized advertising brands to decorate clothing and accessories such as bags, pencil cases and backpacks. It’s an urban style that will always catch the eye.
Are sneakers always in fashion? The answer has to be yes when it comes to streetwear. The trend was huge in the last season and has always been popular both for the gym and as comfortable daywear when pounding the city streets. This season sees colorful and chunky sneaker styles being created with a cheeky nod to the 90s and some vibrant effects to show off the footwear. They look good on the catwalk and equally fine in the urban environment.
Sports clothing has been the bedrock of urban style from the beginning. It’s both functional and fashionable and provides a massive range of opportunities to mix and match shirts, tops, shorts, socks and sneakers to create individual looks that can be as formal or casual as required for any occasion.
Athletes such as basketball players – think of the incredible Michael Jordan – football and hockey stars and the giants of the gridiron are all models for the type of sports clothing to found in the stores. Athletes, whether professional or weekend warrior, also need support for recovery from their exertions and featured compression clothing is the perfect addition to an urban wardrobe.
Menswear with athletic themes are showing this season, with fused tropical textile prints featuring sporty silhouettes, a modern take on the perfect vacation wardrobe. Tunics and sporty separates feature with a variety of kaleidoscopic prints – iconographic fashion design and comfortable to wear.
The catwalk may be the showcase for urban style, but when it translates as successfully as it does to the high street and mall then it’s going to be in fashion for many years to come.
Summer is here and people are out and about for special events, traveling, or just to enjoy the great weather. It’s also the perfect time for celebrity spotting.
One guy who was spotted out for some exercise in Paris, during a film shoot was actor Simon Baker of the television show The Mentalist. Being the stylish Australian man that he is, you would expect nothing less than having him ride through the streets in a timeless, white button-down shirt, a pair of black casual trousers, and summery black leather slip-on sneaker/shoes. Simon’s style of shoes can be purchased at www.net-a-port.com as the Common Projects Leather Slip-on Sneakers for $455 or for a lower price tag, as the Vans Classic Slip-ons in perforated leather for $60 at Zappos.
The next celebrity spotting was Will Ferrell and his family, as he traveled through an airport. Will really managed to disguise himself as the Average Joe in his printed grey t-shirt, baby blue pedal pusher length shorts, and canvas slip-on shoes. My eyes are drawn immediately to the black socks and I wonder how his wife let him get away with that one. No style award for you today Will!
One young singer that always tries to maintain her cute-level is Taylor Swift. She is photographed here in a vintage-looking, cropped-length peach and white gingham check top with a high-waisted light green shirt. Taylor’s outfit is totally tied together with her peach and tan leather sandals and of course, her matching beige leather purse. Taylor perfectly captures the young lady-like look.
The last celebrity sighting of the week to discuss is super model Heidi Klum strolling the shops with one of her little ones. Heidi has a 70’s vibe going with her floppy beige sun hat, white embroidered tank top, patch pocket boot-cut jeans, and square heel tan leather sandals. Heidi’s brown leather, saddle-style bag and gold-rimmed Aviator sunglasses are the perfect accessories. A similar vintage- style bag can be found by the designer Patricia Nash at www.countryoutfitter.com, currently for $127.95. It has the rich brown leather and is called the Women’s Barcellona Saddle Bag in tan.
The street look is one that never goes out of fashion –and always comes off at looking effortlessly cool (which usually takes a lot of effort!). There are certain necessities that come standard with the street look in order to make it work, and not only do they look great, but many are practical for staying comfortable all year round.
Not just great as a practical solution to keeping your ears warm, beanies are also a classic element of the street look. They come in all shapes, colours, sizes and materials so you’re sure to find one that suits your tastes. They’re even making appearances on the runway and atop the heads of the worlds’ most rich and famous. Check out Z-Flex Skateboards – they have a great range of warm, affordable headwear that looks edgy whilst still keeping the heat in! Additionally, snapbacks are quite favoured with the street-elite, and are great for blocking the sun out and keeping your skin burn free! You can get snapbacks with a wide variety of cool branding and logos, or just go for a plain colour that won’t class with the rest of your street-ready outfit!