Has high fashion killed streetwear?
There are males of a certain age bracket who find that ball caps, graphic T-shirts, hoodies and hot sneakers are as essential to their sense of style as nucleobases are to genetics or lightsabres are to Jedi knights.
To them, streetwear—that deeply ironic, attitudinal mixture of Japanese street, surfer, skater and hip-hop styles—has been with them since they were old enough to attempt ollies in the driveway. And their passion for it runs hotter and deeper than ever if last June’s release of Yeezy Boost 350 sneakers is any indication.
The shoes, created by Kanye West in collaboration with Adidas, sold out across the United States in one hour. Since then, the $200 kicks have hit the secondary market—which is to say they’re on ebay. As I type these words, a pair have auctioned after a last-minute bidding war for $704.
Streetwear is no longer kids’ stuff. The youth who lusted over the original Nike SB (that’s “skateboarding”) in 2002 aren’t boys or teens anymore. They have graduated and taken jobs, and some have become parents. Streetwear, as it once existed, has grown up. And we have high fashion to thank for its maturation—or, depending on your perspective, its demise.
This season, luxury labels tapped into this underground aesthetic for inspiration, youthful energy and, most important, street cred. On Paris runways, semiarmoured hard bodies swaggered at Philipp Plein’s fall/winter 2015 show. They wore toques and blackand-white faux football shirts emblazoned with panthers. There were baggy tops with clichéd skull and crossbones and sweatpants with the word “Warrior” stitched across the front of the crotch. It’s a brash rehash of urban sportswear by FUBU and Enyce circa 1998 that appears to have been orchestrated by an Arctic Mad Max.
When Plein talked to the press, he took great pains to point out that the oversized T-shirts were “realized entirely in crocodile or python,” the running pants were “reconstructed in kid-glove-like leather” and their jumpsuits were both “over-the-top” and “python.” The declared intent was “uncompromising modernity,” but it feels more like a hyped-up endgame. When something gets so big, so badass, so bling, you expect it to reach supernova status and leave nothing behind.
Or are designers only introducing a “haute-esque” sensibility into their looks as a joke? Humour has always