"Streetwear been dead"..."everybody is wearing -------- now"..."they not coming with it anymore"..."same stuff every season"...these are the reasons I hear every time this conversation is brought up. As a former streetwear aficionado, I wanna EXPLORE the talk and see if there is merit to the notion that "streetwear is dead". Before we give any credence to these claims, let's define the term first. Streetwear is technically defined as fashion cultivated by hip hop and skate culture(culture synonymous with the street...duh). Still pretty broad, let's clear it up with a few examples you're probably familiar with(stussy, supreme, huf, BBC, hundreds, LRG, undefeated, 10 deep, ect). Those brands are still alive and kicking but here's where it gets tricky...a few people will tell you that most of these brands are past their prime.
Streetwear is relatively young. After finding an ever growing market in the mid 2000's(thanks to the creation of hypebeast in 2005), we've seen a lot come and go. The shelf life of a clothing line is short already so with such a niche market, how can staple streetwear exist or last for more than a few years? Maybe it was doomed from jump, another fashion casualty to add to the trendy trend graveyard. But, that can't be true because there are two staple streetwear brands that both have over two decades of product; Stüssy & Supreme. They've thrived by keeping things fresh while holding true to their brand. Supreme is probably the sexier of the two. It's probably as mainstream as it's ever been and still is coveted in the "hypebeast" community for it's quality, exclusivity, collaborations, and iconic red box logo. Stüssy continues to stay true to what brought them here; quality, moderate pricing, simplicity and staying true to their skater/surfer roots.
Is availability killing the game?Remember this; it's not cool if everyone can get their hands on it(or so one would tell you). Streetwear is as popular and available as ever. There are way more brands, maybe not as well known(I said former aficionado), and way more retailers. There was a time where it was a couple of local boutiques, urban outfitters, and karmaloop(founded in 2000). Now there are dozens of "niche" stores that occupy every major mall in your city with enough streetwear to dress every kid headed to a rae sremmurd concert...twice. That could very well be a factor. I'll admit this, there are a lot of brands that are doing the exact same thing. Supply and demand gives the edge to "streetwear is dead" on this evidence with over saturation and watered down product.
We should also take in to account that who is saying it's "dead" is also a factor. Most of these comments are coming from your purists or OG hypebeasts(no disrespect to the term, I mean early hypebeast adopters and visitors). It's like comparing Mike to LeBron; two different great eras. This is the dawning of a new streetwear. Kanye wanted to give you leather joggers 7 years ago, but we got them now. The more popular newer brands have taken the more subtle approach with high fashion twists. We just had a nike collaboration with Ricardo Tisci to put that on perspective. And luxury brands like Givenvhy have produced designer screen print tees and joggers. We all know the popularity of joggers is a direct tie-in to sneaker culture. En Noir and John Elliot are two brands that have pushed the genre to have a luxury design feel. it's not the traditional screen print & logo so some don't identify it as streetwear. But, as defined earlier, it's def embraced and inspired by hip hop and sneaker culture.
Is it dead? Nope. Is it different than it was 10 years ago? Definitely. But the things that will keep streetwear alive are sneaker culture and innovative brands that continue to stretch the genre and push the envelope. There also has to be culture that consigns and inspires it. Underground and alternative (mainstream too, thanks to Yeezy, Pharrell, ASAP, ect...)hip hop, art, and even high fashion all have a hand in it's cultivation and growth. In my personal opinion, Supreme and Stüssy (as well as nike and adidas) aren't going anywhere, and as long as there is a thriving market, there will be competition. That's just how business works. Streetwear is just like any living thing on this planet...it's evolving, and adapting to it's surroundings.