Streetwear knows no gender

Streetwear knows no gender

Function and comfort lie at the core of streetwear, and it breaks stereotypes, observes Meenakshi Singh

Tanvie Hans

From a small cult following, streetwear has catapulted to a global phenomenon. Characterised with a gender-neutral tone, it has propelled further, and the ‘Drop’ model has helped it garner ardent followers who are kept hooked with the anticipation of the next hot cop.

Streetwear came about in not just any streets, but streets of cities that were and continue to be fashion capitals of the world. It started with surfers, skaters, rappers, artists, b-boys and b-girls dressing distinctively, connecting with their tribe and announcing their presence to the rest. Think baggy clothes, gold chains, shoelaces for belts and the likes. Brands like Stussy, FUBU, Carhartt, Supreme and others like them crafted uniforms for these cool kids. It was never about the clothes, but what they represented and their lifestyle.

On the surface, streetwear is the logo and graphic tees, hoodies, sneakers, boyfriend jeans, tracks and dad hats. But in essence, it is built on community. Take away the community and streetwear is just fashion, according to Bobby Hundreds, founder of one of the OG streetwear brands — The Hundreds.

Vinaya Seshan

Function and comfort lie at the core of streetwear. With a need for millennials and Gen Z to seize every opportunity for self- expression, it was but natural for streetwear to grow.

Influential women designers, stylists, and artists like Vashtie, Aleali May and Melody Ehsani have furthered the gender-neutral fashion revolution. They’re among the first-ever women to have Jordan collaborations and their women-only sneaker drops have been highly coveted by men as well.

The demand from women for streetwear can’t be ignored. Kristen Dempsey, founder of Heroine, a women’s fashion marketplace, says her platform was born out of an unignorable demand for a certain type of fashion. Maha, a store in Amsterdam, started selling streetwear for women when the founder realised his girlfriend preferred wearing his clothes but styled them in her own way. When there was a gap for content that was a mash-up of streetwear, high fashion and pop culture, culture platform Highsnobiety came through, regularly featuring women-oriented campaigns and content. In February 2016, Hypebeast launched Hypebae — a content and webstore, entirely devoted to women’s streetwear.

Teen music sensation and Grammy winner Billie Eilish, is becoming just as well-known for her style as much as for her music. The 18-year-old stands out with her punky, “tomboy” take on fashion. Her looks, which often include oversized sweatshirts and pants, clashing colours and patterns, bold accessories and rare-edition sneakers, are an inspiration to teenage girls, to embrace streetwear in a fresh and edgy way.

This movement extends to luxury, thanks to streetwear. Luxury-streetwear labels such as Y/Project, Ambush Design or Koché are participating in a new era of fashion that breaks down the binary codes of the expression of gender. These brands, whose driving line is the fluidity of genders, have created waves in a high potential market. This gender agnostic trend can be immediately seen through colours and fits. Colours like pink, frozen yellow, purple and various shades of neon are a favourite among men and women alike.

Brands like Daily Paper and Chinatown Market with their boxy fits, androgynous silhouettes and bright colours have been successful in creating a fluid movement between menswear and womenswear. 
Other trends defining this category include head-to-toe looks adopted from ’90s sportswear, along with traditional materials that feel subversive and hence very Gen Z, in the current streetwear environment which is driven by loud graphics and logos. Streetwear has surely revolutionised gender-stereotypes not only in the workplace but across the fashion industry. 

(The author is co-founder,

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