Love/Hate: My Relationship With Streetwear
Picture this. It’s the mid-90s and I’m in love with a vivacious and relatively unknown phenom simply named Streetwear.
From the way it walks to the way it talks.
The way it speaks to me and my peers without saying a word.
The way it fits on my youthful frame and the energy it gives me when I utter its name.
The rarity of the pieces from a time when every design wasn’t the same.
I speak to you now with admiration, love, and hate.
I adore the way you vibe with my favorite sneakers.
Finding myself in arguments over you with the homies in the bleachers.
I put you on to shield me from the rain and pick you up from the mall every time I got paid.
You make me happy when I feel drained, even kept my fly when I was in pain.
A suit of armor, my uniform.
I fell in love with you because you were different, a unicorn.
You are an extension of Hip-hop, anti-status quo and anti-pop.
I rocked with you for your rebellious spirit, untamed and unfinished.
A constant work in progress, I paid attention to you and witnessed your growth.
So full of color, so full of life.
Not afraid to stand alone, not afraid to fight.
I was always with you day and night.
Gang members used to take you from me, rob and steal you so they could get a taste of what it was like.
I used to sell my free lunch tickets for a week straight just to have enough to pick you up and take you on a date.
Show you off at the movies or a house party up the street.
Showed you off in class and during homecoming week.
We were a part of something bigger, an underground community, you and I.
I love the way you brought people together.
From the skaters to the rappers, hustlers, and backpackers.
I was so proud to have you in my life. But now something just doesn’t feel right.
I feel like we’ve lost touch somewhere along the way.
There’s something different about you, you’ve changed.
What happened to those good ol’ days when it was it was just me, you, and a chosen few?
Now everyone is rocking with you.
Gone are the days when you were peculiar and unfamiliar.
When the mainstream wasn’t fucking with you.
Now you’re into trends and being seen.
I liked you more when we had our own thing.
When you weren’t all about the money but about the message.
When you were less commercial and more expressive.
When you were more Stussy over Supreme.
When you were Levis and Dickies over Balmain jeans.
When you were more Polo and less Gucci.
When you were more street and less bougie.
I miss the way you used to hang with Big and Wu-Tang.
Now you just hang with a bunch of new names.
You used to be exclusive for a reason.
You used to choose quality over quantity every season.
I hate that you sold your soul to the highest bidder and resellers triple your price if you’re considered vintage.
It disgusts me that you went from classy to classism and sometimes I can’t afford to be seen with you.
I detest your overpriced sneakers and costly denim and how high fashion consumed you because they were scared to compete with you.
I hate that you’re more into hypebeast and brand names.
I hate that you only associate with the likes of Virgil, Jerry, and Rhuigi.
I hate that you are mainly made for the boys club and exclude the women.
I hate that your not gender inclusive because you’re afraid to be seen as different.
I hate that you make pieces for the slimmer builds now and look down on thicker frames, how you disassociate yourself from the LGBTQs and use minorities to sell what’s new and claim it as “diversity” so you can better appeal to the darker hues.
For fortune and fame, you cut out a whole community.
I only see you now with the Kylies and Biebers.
In Vogue magazine is where you’re featured propping up celebrities who know nothing about the culture instead of giving a chance to newcomers who love you enough to push you forward.
What happened to the streetwear I used to know.
The one I fell in love with a lifetime ago.
“This is the kind of fashion I grew up on – a good pair of trainers, great denim – and I will always love high-end streetwear.” – Tinie Tempah
Sway Calloway is one of the most revered journalists of hip-hop. It’s only fitting he would launch his very own block party, Sway Fest, in the Bay Area!
When I was in Portland a few weeks ago I stumbled across a discussion with co-founder of The Hundreds Bobby Kim about his new book. I had to check it out.