The Future of Streetwear: Where Do We Go Now?

Just before the dawn of the new decade, designer and artistic director of Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh, released a statement that sent shockwaves through the fashion community, and cracked the very matrix of streetwear itself.

In his recent interview with Dazed, Virgil opened up about the state of streetwear; “I would definitely say it’s gonna die,” the designer told the publication. “Like, its time will be up. In my mind, how many more T-shirts can we own, how many more hoodies, how many more sneakers?” Definitely a very bold, and shocking revelation coming from the widely-renowned monarch of streetwear himself. Which, if true, could be the end of streetwear as we know it.

Abloh then suggested that the future will focus more on vintage, and re-purposing older pieces, bringing to mind his work under Pyrex Vision in 2012. “I think that we’re gonna hit this like, really awesome state of expressing your knowledge and personal style with vintage,” he continued. “There are so many clothes that are cool that are in vintage shops and it’s just about wearing them. I think that fashion is gonna go away from buying a boxfresh something; it’ll be like, hey, I’m gonna go into my archive.”

Virgil Abloh’s early fashion brand from 2012 “Pyrex Vision”

There’s already evidence suggesting that a move to vintage is underway. In late December of last year it was announced that Off-White, Virgil’s first-hand approach to fashion, had partnered with The Louvre museum to create a streetwear capsule inspired by the many works of Leonardo da Vinci. Even with his worrisome forecast, Virgil says he’s looking forward to what the 2020’s will bring. “I’m excited by the next decade,” he stated. “I’m excited to see what we do in this next chapter, because the strides we made in the last ten years are too insane.”

So, It seems that only time will tell what the future will bring. However, in recent years there has been a large increase in the development of “startup” brands, and an overhaul of various artist merchandise, leading to a somewhat saturation and dilution of the streetwear industry. Reinforcing what Virgil stated previously, buying a boxfresh item might actually lose its sentimental value over time. If the proverbial streetwear ship is sinking, how do we stay afloat?

I believe the answer may lay in putting an emphasis on creating quality garments that are sustainable, and clinging onto a very strong brand identity. Rather than shelling out product after product, this ethos could lead to a ‘renaissance’ of streetwear, granted that Abloh’s statement holds true. For example, the consensus face of streetwear, Fuckthepopulation, has used this to their advantage since the very beginning, and it has benefited them greatly. Plenty of the industry has taken notice, too.

Chief Keef for FTP x Huf 2016

Los Angeles based designer Reese Cooper is bridging the gap between luxury fashion and streetwear, using that very method. In 2016, Cooper unveiled his debut collection “Spoiled Children,” inspired by the kids that he grew up with whose attitudes pushed him to cultivate his own deeply personal vision. Since then, Cooper has raised plenty of eyebrows in the industry by establishing his own narrative behind each collection. In an interview with Esquire, Cooper stated; “That’s been my plan, I know what’s happening next season and the season after. I’m not thinking of it as a movie with scenes, but it all flows together.” His focus on making quality pieces rather than branding and logos has been a staple in his identity just as much.

In my opinion, streetwear isn’t anywhere near dead. A shift in focus is all it takes for an entire industry to prosper. Behind the glitz and glamour of every successful brand is the time and effort put into it, and the benefits of remaining true to your identity always surface. Streetwear is a form of contemporary art; by using any means necessary to create something that is impactful, and that the brand and audience are both emotionally tied to. There are plenty of brands and designers keeping the essence of streetwear alive, and carrying that essence well into the future. Personally, I think we should all feel very excited for the next chapter, and we at Casual Fridays can’t wait to see what’s in store.

Reese Cooper AW20 Menswear Collection “If A Tree Falls”