Skate culture has for sure made its mark on the streetwear scene, no doubt about that. From the clothes we rock to the hot trends we follow, skateboarding has had a major influence. Those skaters have always had their own gritty style, using fashion to express themselves and show off their uniqueness. It’s evident, their passion is contagious. I’ve always had a love for skate culture, spending hours of my time watching skate documentaries and hanging out with my skate friends in Hyde Park, Chicago, to watching skate culture spread through the textile industry, inspiring everyone to rock their own sense of fashion.
It’s all about creativity and staying true to yourself. Here’s a few things I’ve noticed about skate cultures impact on streetwear and connection to Hip Hop:
There are striking parallels between skate culture and the essence of Hip Hop. Both are deeply rooted in expressionism, allowing individuals to communicate their thoughts, emotions, and stories through their chosen art forms. To me, this connection explains the level of respect and understanding that rappers have always had for skateboarding as a sport and art form.
With commercial brands like Stüssy and Supreme stepping onto the scene in the ’80s and ’90s, later adopting skateboarders’ preference for comfortable and functional clothing, such as baggy pants, graphic T-shirts, and hoodies, this style aesthetic has become a defining characteristic for commercial brands alike. What started as a form of self-expression for skateboarders and hip-hop enthusiasts has evolved into a global phenomenon, transcending cultural boundaries and resonating with people from all walks of life.
The skate community in New York played a crucial role in the rise of Supreme. Skateboarding embodies a rebellious and subversive spirit, and Supreme successfully channeled that energy into it’s identity. By collaborating with influential skateboarders and sponsoring local events, Supreme became synonymous with the New York skate scene. In the early days when Supreme started as just a skate shop, this gave the youth a place to hang out, representation, and a sense of pride. The brand’s association with skate culture has undoubtedly shaped its identity and helped establish its influential status in the fashion industry.
In my opinion, this all sounds similar to how Hip Hop started. Coming from Jamaica to the Bronx, New York City, heart of rebellion, expressionism, later being adopted by capitalist and made mainstream… see the similarities?
The appeal of streetwear lies in its fusion of comfort, style, and individuality. The baggy pants, graphic T-shirts, and hoodies that once symbolized rebellion and nonconformity have now become mainstream fashion staples worn not only in the streets but also in professional environments.
The longevity of streetwear can be attributed to its ability to continually evolve and adapt to changing trends. It has seamlessly incorporated elements from various subcultures, music genres, and art movements, resulting in a diverse and ever-evolving aesthetic. From the influential collaborations between streetwear brands and high-end fashion houses to the rise of sneaker culture, streetwear has solidified its position as a powerful force in the fashion industry.
I’m not one to spend a lot of my time dwelling on how commercial brands have capitalized on the culture. I like to look at it this way: the success of streetwear brands in the commercial industry has paved the way for the democratization of fashion. These brands have challenged the traditional notions of luxury and exclusivity, making fashion more accessible and inclusive. Through limited-edition drops, online releases, and collaborations with popular artists and designers, streetwear has disrupted the traditional retail model, creating a sense of urgency and excitement among consumers.
Something else I’ve noticed in skate culture is the DIY mentality. This has had a significant impact on the rise of independent streetwear brands. The emphasis on authenticity and self-expression through fashion has inspired a wave of innovative and creative entrepreneurs to launch their own clothing lines. These independent streetwear brands offer an alternative to the mainstream market, providing a platform for individuals who seek unique and original styles that reflect their values and personality.
The influence of skate culture on streetwear goes beyond clothing and extends to the overall aesthetic. Skateboarding’s rebellious, underground roots have contributed to a “cool” factor that is deeply ingrained in the streetwear scene. The fusion of skate culture and streetwear has given rise to a style that is effortlessly cool, casual, and urban.
I’ll forever swear by it, I’ve done my due diligence. Yes, streetwear was birthed from Hip Hop culture. BUT, you know what? Skate culture has totally shaped the streetwear aesthetic, no doubt about it. You can mos def see skate cultures’ influence all over it. The way people dress, the brands they swear by, the whole vibe. As Hip Hop and streetwear continues to evolve, the impact of skate culture on fashion is gonna stick around for a long time.