Streetwear Fashion and How it Evolved From the 1970s to 2020

Over the years, a definitive trend for streetwear fashion has never occurred. One might say this is because there are several movements that occur in fashion. From my point of view, trends are born out of hype and once that hype fades that trend is gone.

Before a form of fashion can trend, it is marketed through the social medium e.g T.V, Music, Movies and Magazine.

Once people begin to get on board with that form of fashion, it takes off and begins to trend in the fashion mainstream. According to Forbes, Hype is the vehicle that drove streetwear culture into the mainstream.

This is why street wear's are making a comeback and why you have that urge to mash up your ordinary day look with some form of streetwear. It is also why street wears are going to continue trending in 2020.

Because of the hype, the demand for Streetwear has been through the roof. Many of the major fashion companies like Prada, Louis Vuitton, etc, are all buying into the streetwear trend. This article is going to shed light on the current comeback of streetwear into fashions mainstream.

We are also going to compare street wears in the 1970's with the 2020 streetwear. This comparison will help us know how much the fashion has evolved over the past 50 years. Furthermore, the comparison will tell us what 1970 Street wears are making a comeback in 2020.

What is Streetwear fashion?

There is no single definition for streetwear fashion in the fashion world. This is because anyone or fashion brand can identify their outfit or brand as a street style as long as it was independently born.

In a complex article, according to the writer, Tommy Hilfiger gave his definition of streetwear fashion simply as sportswear and military which is an over-simplistic way of defining streetwear fashion. Nick Tershay one of the biggest fashion gurus in the same article, gave his definition of streetwear fashion to the writer as young T-shirt Brands.

"Streetwear isn't all about clothes," says Chase Campbell CEO of SizeUp "it is art born out of a lifestyle."

From the above definition of streetwear from different fashion elites, we can conclude that these elites of major fashion houses keep giving definitions of streetwear from an urban wear perspective. Streetwear is not urban wear.

The term urban wear came to be as a result of big fashion brands in order to dissociate their brand from the word street. The truth is most major fashion houses wouldn't want to be known as a street brand. Hence, they begin to incorporate some of the street style into their existing brand and begin to sell it as urban wear. 

According to a streetwear article, the writer explained that major fashion houses making streetwear oriented wears of today don't really care about the street style itself. They are just about the financial gains. This explains why urban wears are so expensive and dreadful in looks.

Streetwear, on the other hand, has been around a lot longer and most will agree with me that it started as an individual style by the ordinary day people. This is why street wears are highly affordable and doesn't make you look horrible.

Streetwear fashion is that fashion that is unique in its own way and associates you with a particular tribe or culture. An example of a tribe can be a group of skaters, metal-head or hipsters.

Where and when did the streetwear fashion begin?

Like all cultures have a root, the streetwear fashion also has its origin. Trendalytics believe that the fashion was influenced by a group of skaters and surfers in 1970 before hip hop made it popular.

Another blog article on urban wears claim Streetwear fashion began as a result of inspiration from heavy metal, DIY Aesthetic of Punk, new waves and Hip Hop cultures during 70's.

In actuality, streetwear fashion has been around a lot longer. Streetwear fashion began after World War 2. The 1970s period was when mass culture began to grow and there was that urge for one to deviate from the everyday norm in the city.

Tribes that came up during the 1970s satisfied those urges of people that wanted to be different. This led to people experimenting with their style in order to look unique. These styles ended up in magazines and boulevard fashion became popular.

Stussy brought about evolution into streetwear fashion with his idea of a branded T-shirt. Major Influencers such as Jimmy Z, Nakamura, Scott Schuman, Kanye West, Michael Kopelman, Nigo are people whose ideas and influences let the streetwear fashion to go mainstream.

What Elements Should a streetwear clothing item have? 

There are certain characters in an item of clothing that makes it streetwear and I am pretty certain some of the readers can't identify them.

A Streetwear outfit, on one hand, can be a mixture of expensive brands. On the other hand, it can be a combination of old brands from the thrift shop. What most fashion-conscious dudes do is to mash up a bit of old and new to form a unique style.

An example of such unique Streetwear fashion would be to pair a quality jacket, graphic tees with ripped jeans, sneakers, and aviator glasses just like Bradley Cooper does.

Below are some key pointers that will help you recognize streetwear in a fashion store in case you want to make the switch to the mind-blowing world of streetwear fashion.

Logos/Graphic Statements 

A T-shirt with a graphic statement or logo of the designer or pop culture icons or a band is definitely a streetwear.

Logos/graphic statements on a t-shirt are ways people assign themselves to a particular demographic, tribe or culture. For some, it is their way of telling the world " hey, my shirt cost 300 bucks."


Back in the 70's an element of streetwear was that all of its clothing items were oversized or loose. This element provided comfort to people who wore streetwear.

Fast forward to 2018, most people now opt for fitted streetwear items but people still mash up their looks with both fitted and oversized streetwear items.



All streetwear items are basic, comfortable and casual forms of clothing. An example of such items as hoodies, T-shirts, jeans, and sneakers. This is why you cannot wear Streetwear items to a formal setting.

Ever heard of ripped jeans or pants? Well, it isn't new and it is an element of some streetwear clothing item. The ripped element in pants became a popular street style look among metal-heads in the 1980s. It was a fashion statement by the punk movement towards society.

Recently, the rip element in jeans has been making a comeback not as a fashion statement but as a fashion trend.


Certain brands come up as streetwear clothing. Brands such as Supreme, Nike, airforce, and Adidas for sneakers, Stussy, billionaire boys clubs, the hundreds, Size up, etc are famous examples. These brands mentioned are majorly into the design of streetwear clothing items.

Streetwear in 1970 vs Streetwear in 2020

Fashion was all about expression during the 70s and there were little or no rules when it comes to dressing. Moreover, several cultural movements began during the 70s.

Fashion for men during the 1970s period was nonformal and simple in the sense that men dressed mostly in wide-legged jeans and designer t-shirts. 

The 1970 period was also known as the era where different music genres came up. From disco to punk, to pop and along with the music came their distinctive clothing.

Guys that were disco fans dressed in leisure suits, tuxedo suits, three-piece suits, gold chains, vintage clothes, and wide-legged pants. Leather was particularly popular among punk fans along with the black jackets, provocative t-shirts, and ripped clothes. Hippies wore more of bell-bottoms and tie-dyed tops.

Khaki pants and denim were also popular streetwear clothing items during the 70s. Aviator glasses, Satin scarves, headbands, and afro hair are samples of streetwear accessories that were popular in the 70s.

The 2020 streetwear fashion for men is quite different from that d the 1970s. This is because fashion constantly evolved over the 50-year margin and some trends that were gone during that period are now being rebranded.

For example, fanny packs that were in vogue in the 80s became cross-body bags in 2019 and have been making waves in the fashion world.

Fanny packs and Cross-body bags

Below are some comparisons of 70s streetwear against 2020 streetwear for men to show you guys how much has changed.

1970s Shorts vs 2020s Shorts

1970s Shorts vs 2020s Shorts

1970s Shorts vs 2020s Shorts

I am going, to be honest, with you guys. I am so glad I wasn't born in the 70s. Shorts for men in the 70s felt more like bum shorts for the ladies but in a classy way.

The shorts as we can see in the picture above was way above the knees and extremely tight. The shorts in 2020 are not so far above the knee and they give some space for our private parts to breath.

Shorts of the 70s, 80s, and 90s have all undergone rebranding by major fashion houses and would be in vogue in the summers of 2020.

1970s bell-bottoms vs 2020 skinny jeans

Bell-bottoms vs Skinny jeans

Bell-bottoms vs Skinny jeans

No guy ever looks good in bell-bottoms except for maybe Presley. Bell-bottoms came at a time when fashion hated guys and most guys now wouldn't want to be caught in it.

On the other hand, the skinny jean is a better improvement on bell-bottom. Although I am not a fan of skinny jeans, I very much like my ball area. Most people in the 21st century want their clothes to fit.

1970s Graphic T-shirts Vs 2020s Graphic T-shirts

1970s Graphic T-shirts Vs 2020s Graphic T-shirts

1970s Graphic T-shirts Vs 2020s Graphic T-shirts

The 1970 period was a great time for graphic tees because all you need to be in style was a T-shirt and jeans. It was a great era for brand T-shirts unlike 2020 where you have to be conscious of what is written on your T-shirt.

Graphic Tees in the 1970s became advertisement mediums for company's, artists and designers. You could make fashion statements to the world with words written on the clothing expressing how you feel.

1970s aviator Glasses vs 2020s shield Sunglasses

Aviator glasses vs. Shield sunglasses

Aviator glasses vs. Shield sunglasses

Aviator glasses were one of the most popular fashion accessories in the 70s. Even after 50 years, they are still very much in vogue. The aviator glasses give you that badass look. They are iconic fashion accessory in the fashion world.

However, shield glasses are a modern alternative to the aviator glasses and they give you that crystal gazer look. They are one of the best streetwear accessories in 2020.

1970 leisure suit vs 2020 pinstripe suit

Leisure suit vs. Pinstripe suit

Leisure suit vs. Pinstripe suit

Leisure suits In the 1970s were an extremely popular streetwear clothing item because of clothing prices that were inexpensive at that period. But then the styles of leisure suits evolved from outrageous to cool and classy.

Leisure suits are still being worn today. The only difference is that they are made with better fabrics and are not worn with bell-bottom like the 70s.

Pinstripe suits are formally known as the banker's uniform and very popular among businessmen. They were also worn by gangsters and guys who play jazz back in the day.

Recently, they became Streetwear ever since artists such as Rihanna, Asap Rocky, and Jay-Z influenced the fashion movement in their music videos and concerts.

I consider the pinstripe suit as a classy streetwear clothing item when buttoned up and worn with white sneakers plus a white inner T-shirt.

The 1970s period was a year when streetwear fashion ideas were born. These ideas allowed streetwear fashion to go mainstream into the fashion world. 2020 feels more like a year of rebranding for Streetwear clothing items.

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