The Primer, Volume 1: Streetwear Catch-Up

This is The Primer, a weekly segment dedicated to initiating newcomers into the world Starving Artist Creative Forum so lovingly inhabits. Art in all its forms relies on the new, with creators taking inspiration from the past. This series will focus on bringing initiates up to speed on topics we all love so we can share together. Stay safe, wash your hands.

I see your Jil Sanders, Oliver Peoples/Costume National, your Ann Demeulemeester/See Visvim be the sneaker, Lanvin or Balmain/Goyard by the trunk, her Isabel Marant/I love your Linda Farrow, I adore your Dior/Your Damir Doma, Vena Cava from the store/I crush down with that top down, bossy how I ride 'round/Mami in that Tom Ford, papi in that Thom Browne/Rick Owens, Raf Simons, boy she got it by the stock/She ball until she fall, that means she shop until she drop/And Versace, got a lot, but she may never wear it/But she save it so our babies will be flyer than their parents/- A$AP Rocky, "Fashion Killa"


Streetwear, in its simplest form, is fashion worn by the streets. This oversimplification undersells the culture, however, a complex, bi-coastal unification of the hip-hop, punk and skate scenes of New York and Los Angeles. Over decades, the names and styles have changed, but the ones who push the culture forward are still the same: skaters, rappers and rockers. As basketball has joined the cultural movement since the 90s, you can add ballers to the mix, but Lance Mountain was a skater famous for wearing Jordan 1s and LL Cool J wore the same shoe on his debut album "Radio", the perfect example of skaters and rappers pushing culture.


Honorable mention to some of the OGs of streetwear: iconic New York skate brand Supreme and legendary Japanese pioneer A Bathing Ape. These brands have dictated culture on a global level, birthing an entire generation of style worldwide. I wanted to keep this article more accessible, with brands that aren't as much of a grind to find. Of course, you can always go to their website, but there's also other ways to find them.


STÜSSY


The California surf brand has gone from the shores to the street and back again, building its reputation as one of American fashion's most respected label. Stüssy's brand is built around surf culture and subtle prints, with a splash of nostalgia.


Stüssy is still one of the most accessible streetwear brands out there, available at Urban Outfitters as well as its own website. The price point is a bit higher for a streetwear brand, but Urban Outfitters has been able to carry some of their best staples at a very affordable price.


Shop at: Stüssy or Urban Outfitters


OBEY


From the mind of legendary street Shepard Fairey comes Obey. Fairey is one of the original celebrity street artists, his artistry eventually getting him in the White House via the Obama Hope portrait. Obey is seen by Fairey as an extension of his activism, with a much lower price point than most other brands. Their designs are inspired by classical propaganda posters, usually with a political edge. Muted colors and striking contrasts define Obey, his portraits always adding artistic flair on a modern level.


Obey has become a staple of mallcore skate fashion, appearing in Zumiez and Tillys, but that doesn't make the brand any less streetwear. The availability and price point of Obey is sort of a statement in and of itself, representing an entry level to not only streetwear, but art and activism.


Shop at: Obey or Zumiez or Urban Outfitters


THE HUNDREDS


Bobby Hundreds may be expanding his reach now, but that doesn't stop The Hundreds from still dropping some of the best collaborations in streetwear: Puma, Adidas, NBA, Tapatio, Disney, MF DOOM, IT, Death Row, Animaniacs, Amoeba, Halloween, Anti Social Social Club, Garfield, you name it, The Hundreds has pulled off amazing team-ups in its history. But that's not to say they're only a collaboration brand. Adam Bomb is legendary in Los Angeles, his face emblazoned on walls, billboards and skin itself. The logo has become a part of the LA underground, even plain colored shirts with Adam's face becoming rare and treasured pieces.


The Hundreds has expanded to become a well-respected lifestyle brand and blog, with Bobby Hundreds taking more of a living legend role as a mentor to streetwear at large, even publishing a few books. But the accessibility doesn't end there, with the legendary brand being carried nationwide at Zumiez.


Shop at: The Hundreds or Zumiez


LRG


The Lifted Research Group has been a stalwart of the streetwear scene for years, building it up through loud patterns and bright colors. Mixing aspects of surf, skate and sport, LRG has become the blueprint that all other streetwear kind comes from. They haven't had as big of a profile in recent years but they still have a lot of quality pieces and a brand new collaboration with Duck Down Records.


Zumiez has more of the beachy, California side of LRG and their website has a lot more of the New York hip-hop side of the brand. Their adaptability and versatility is one of my favorite things about the brand and easily their biggest strength.


Shop at: LRG or Zumiez


STAPLE


Staple is one of my favorite brands. Jeffrey Ng is a legend in the New York sneaker scene and his Pigeon Air Force 1 put his Staple Design on the map in 2005. Although their price point tends to be higher than a lot of the other brands on this list, they have incredible sales pretty often, with striking and eye-catching designs at an amazing price.


Staple tends to be either of two aesthetics: a sharp, crisp look based on Ng's background in graphic design or a loud, colorful design closer to New York's hip-hop and graffiti scene.


Shop at: Staple Pigeon








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