• Megan Alcaraz

You Paid for That?: A Guide to Streetwear


Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

Streetwear brands have been carving a name for themselves in the last decade, making its way into pop culture and the fashion world, emphasizing the fact that the more you spend on your outfit, validates you as “more fashionable”. Contrary to that, I will always stand by the fact that you should be able to wear what you want in order to feel comfortable in your own skin. After all, any sort of style you pursue should help you showcase your personality, whether you’re after that slick minimalistic vibe, or you’re in love with clothes that carry a large name in the fashion world. From an artist leaning into graphic design, it’s easy to see the appeal for streetwear clothes, even considering the usually heavy price tag, having said that: Not all street brands are created equal.


If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of ‘streetwear’ it’s official definition is: “casual clothing of a style worn especially by members of various urban youth subcultures.” Usually, the clothes themselves are attached to some sort of brands like Adidas or Nike, technically these are sportswear brands, but I’m counting them in because in the recent decade they’ve been finessing their way into the fashion world and the closets of many young shoppers. Nike and Adidas are a good example of clean, fairly priced shoes and outerwear. Some coveted items from Nike and Adidas can cost you a very pretty penny, but they have a nice array of essentials that mingle well with your wardrobe, look cool, and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. So don’t go out and buy statement pieces that’ll set you back, buy the essentials. If you want an outerwear focused brand version of the essentials, UNIQLO (even though it technically isn’t streetwear) is a safe bet and thrifting! It’s everywhere, and vintage is in now, so go wild.


Even though basics are nice to have, the expensive statement pieces you look at during your math period do hit differently. Everyone has entertained the thought of owning an expensive piece of clothing. It feels good to save up and buy something you really want, and show off your sick fit to your friends, but a brand that forces you to puke out green everytime a new collection is unveiled or even just for a simple shirt, is a company not worth investing in. With brands like Off-White making you look like an actual walking street sign with it’s annoying arrow logo, the Bape shark camo hoodies that really require a lesson in color theory (not to mention its incompatibility with the rest of your wardrobe), and the cost of Fear of God’s newly released jackets being equivalent to a Macbook Pro, you’re not going to be making any breakthroughs in fashion and your wallet anytime soon, and you look dumb. The infamous Supreme, partners in crime with the hype-beasts you occasionally see in malls, and maybe even in your local Asian exchange student at school, and seen in many resell accounts (though for a much lower price, thank God) and on GOAT, holds its price tag like a trophy. With a box logo crew neck jumper going for $600, a plain black beanie going at $75, and collaborations with brands like Nike SB going for the price of a plane ticket from Bangkok to the UK, you’re going to end up poor. Honestly, you’re better off taking your chances at the millions of thrift stores in Los Angeles. I guarantee you, instead of paying for an overpriced graphic design that you can easily make yourself with Gildan and Adobe Photoshop; you’d have more fun paying for a nice day out with friends, getting lost in the slew of boujee cafes, KBBQ’s, and thrift stores of Atwater, Melrose, Glassell Park, Little Tokyo, Koreatown, and ChinaTown.


The reason I got into streetwear, was almost purely because of the art, I sit here at the moment wearing my Cav Empt Overdye Range Crewneck and Doomsdayco Yellow “Nothing from No One Shirt”, these don’t match, but it’s cold right now, and you get the point, these brands are artwork driven independent brands from London, they’re the epitome of sustainability and comfortwear. Sometimes it’s just nice to see good artwork, like Comme des Garçons coming out with CDG PLAY, but if you look at their selections and runway videos before PLAY got announced, they were still coming out with fresh new attire that wasn’t labeled by the classic heart with two eyes. The mingling of streetwear brands with popular artists like Takashi Murakami and Kaws leave me wanting all the collaborations they do because the pieces themselves are well thought out, the colors and styles are unmatched; even if it’s just techno colored flowers or weird figurines with crossed-out eyes, it had some thought behind it. It’s not just a logo pasted on with another logo, as an artist, the design of the logo itself doesn’t matter to me, because I’m not going to pay for something I can draw/ design myself, I want to buy something I could never have thought up, and the only people that can satiate that are professional artists . Some brands usually rooted in Japan or London are made by professional artists, for example, Cav Empt, Heresy, and Doomsdayco., and even homeware brands like Tsuki are worth looking at, even though they still carry a heavy price tag, you’ll find that it’s more satisfying to pay for a sustainable, wholesome, and small brand, than a streetwear giant, because with those unique brands you’ve happened to stumble upon and love, you can clearly see their visions and their artistic styles. For example, you can see the care put into every new collection Heresy debuts, the intricate line art and history driven theme being something that you don’t usually see. You’re not only paying for a piece of clothing, you’re paying for the artist to pour out their blood, sweat, and tears on a design they really, truly, love.


If you take away one thing from this article, I want you to realize that at the end of the day, clothes are just clothes, and to whatever brand you like, I hope it’s deserving of your money and appreciation. To the style you end up pursuing, to the cool trends you end up following, I hope you’re happy with it, after all, we’re all just trying to look and feel good.