Style Watch: Are Designer Brands the New Street Style?

In a culture where fashion is constantly evolving, it can be hard to keep up with all the “do’s and don’ts” in magazines, or the hottest new trend to copy by that oh so cool fashion blogger (flattery is the biggest compliment, right?) But when are these trends too much or should I say, too try hard? All those retro-inspired, chunky Nike sneakers, graphic tees, and even baggy vintage sweats that everyone seems to be wearing all stem from street style clothing that has been around for decades. You know that skater boy look? Yeah, well that is now being sold for hundreds of dollars in Barneys New York! Brands like Off-White, Supreme, Kith, and even Yeezy are promoting the street styles that everyone is dying for. Right now, it is trendy to be trendy, but I think your wallet begs to differ. These styles of “street clothing” are losing their organic origins because the people that are true fans of this clothing are not even able to buy the styles.

Are brands like Off-White even special? Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a huge Virgil Abloh fan, and of course want to keep up with the street style trend. Who doesn’t want to look like they walked off the runway? (Okay, well maybe I stick to basic leggings after a night at the Boot—but no one needs to know that). The concept of these brands is unique, but is the attraction to them from the masses purely artificial? Part of the yearning and desire to have these items all started because of their limited availability and the statement that the clothing made when people wore it. Is this trend of being trendy all transparent? Abloh, the creator and designer of Off-White, has received massive backlash from his original followers because he claims that his designs are “for the youth and the kids,” but the youth cannot even afford to buy his t-shirts that sell for upwards of $350.

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Is it worth it to have a knock-off to be in style? This concept has led to a competition between these brands for consumers. This battle is not because of the limited quantity made, but because of the limited amount of people who are able to afford them. Some followers of street style are resorting to buying items like fake Supreme sweatshirts and Yeezy sneakers just to fit in, but isn’t that against everything street clothing is about? These clothing styles were made to promote individuality, so buying a fake seems counterintuitive.

This begs the question: what is the value of art? Is it all for show? For fame? For popularity? World-renowned graffiti artist Banksy recently put this theory to the test. Banksy set up a stall on the streets of New York City, selling stencil drawings that are typically valued at hundreds of thousands for only $60 dollars. He wanted to see how people reacted to the art when they were not categorized as fancy collector’s items. Many did not recognize the artist’s work, walking past without any interest. These same people may have paid a significant amount of money if it was seen in an art show and or museum. (You can watch the video here!) These drawings are just like the hype around street style, and the question still remains if street clothing brands will ever revert back to their original value.

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Some brands still hold true to the heart and soul of street style. Streetwear brands like Only NY, Palace, Braindead, Chinatown Market, Surf is Dead, Stamped, Cactus Plant Flea Market and Stray Rats are all still embracing the true meaning behind street style, without being designer. The goal of these companies is not to one day be in a department store, but rather to have their fans and followers embrace their originality in the streets, on the sidewalk, and in the world of art and fashion.

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So, I leave it to all of you: are you buying that item to fit into the trend or because you are a true fan? This article is not to say I do not strut in my sneakers after seeing them posted on Hypebae or don’t look at certain, now designer, streetwear brands in upscale department stores. This is rather a reminder to embrace your own style because you have a passion and love for the clothing and art you dress yourself with, not because it is what everyone else is wearing!

ALL PHOTOS: Hypebae

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About Ellie Berglass

As a writer on our Fashion and Beauty team, this LA girl loves fashion and adventure. Ellie Berglass is a sophomore majoring in Communications and Psychology. Fun fact: she once skydived in Fiji!

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