The title makes little sense, let me explain it a little.

My argument is that High Fashion took the tenets of Streetwear and used them incredibly effectively.

Depending on who you ask, Streetwear is about a lot of different things. It takes pop culture references and reinterprets them. It flips recognisable designs and mocks the established brands. It’s a counter-culture built on a DIY attitude and a sense of belonging.

Here’s the thing with counter-cultures, once they become too popular they lose their edge. In fact, they are no longer counter-culture they are, well, culture.

Here’s what happened over the last few years. The bigger, more established brands in this space over-saturated the market with their products. What was once only available in boutique stores and brand-owned flagships in L.A., New York, Tokyo etc. became widely available on huge online retailers and in chain stores. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the dilution of the brand’s cache is a risk the owners have to be willing to take. Bigger wholesale retail accounts mean fewer risks are taken by designers and eventually the things that got them here are nowhere to be seen. The early adopters have moved on to other brands. More retail accounts mean prices being cut so that they can compete with each other. Brand value decreases.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t always happen but more often than not it is the case.

Since there are absolutely zero barriers to entry in having a t-shirt line, everyone is at it. I’ve been there, so this is not having a dig at anyone. This is a good thing. Great new designers can actually have their product manufactured and don’t have to sign their ideas away to build someone else’s company. The downside is there are so many brands out there that the good ones are lost in a sea of mediocrity. There are no real differentiators between them. Designs are similar, marketing strategies are the same and the price points don’t vary so much from each other. A quick google search and I can find 50 new brands that have a design I would wear and they will all be priced around the same mark. How do I choose which one to buy?

Streetwear thrived on limited access and on being priced very competitively.  The DIY aspect kept prices low and gave the illusion that it was for the average person. The reality was, you needed to know where to look and brands were built on word of mouth and a strong sense of community. There was a sort of exclusivity that came with Streetwear but for the most part, it has now gone.

Where Streetwear struggles, high fashion now succeeds. A quick look at the current landscape and you can see names like Demna Gvasaglia and Virgil Abloh crossing the divide and Riccardo Tisci has taken Streetwear’s aesthetic to Givenchy. Over-saturation is largely kept in check by the higher price point but limited runs and availability also help. Brands such as Off-White, Vetements and Hood By Air still have so much of a Streetwear influence that it is difficult not to call them Streetwear brands. Large screen printed graphics, pop culture satire and an extreme awareness of what they stand for make brands like these tricky not to admire. They have effectively picked up where a lot of brands fell off.

This isn’t a ‘Streetwear is Dead’ announcement, but is merely meant to highlight the changes that the industry is seeing. For now, Streetwear is experiencing unbelievable highs with many riding the wave. The inevitable crash will happen and it will be interesting to see which current brands adapt and survive and the new brands that emerge in the wake of it all.