Google the phrase, 'streetwear is dead', and you will see tons of articles debating the topic. It is only a thing because one of the most respected designers in the fashion industry, Virgil Abloh, made comments to that effect in a 2019 interview. Abloh passed away in 2021. While his comments are still being debated, one thing we know for sure is that anime-inspired streetwear is alive and well.
Abloh said what he said about streetwear almost casually. He had to go back and defend his remarks when the fashion industry challenged him on them. As it turns out, Abloh viewed streetwear as more of a culture and community rather than a type of clothing. It's not too different from the way we view anime.
Anime absolutely is a form of art. Is a form of art that makes our T-shirts and hoodies so popular among a core demographic group. But anime is also a cultural movement of sorts. It is a movement in contrast to Western animation and the culture surrounding it. So from our perspective, anime and streetwear make a perfect marriage.
Streetwear Definitions Change
Virgil Abloh's comments aside, there is another interesting aspect to the argument that streetwear is dead. What is that aspect? The fact that streetwear definitions change. Just going back to the supposed origins of streetwear tells you everything you need to know.
Some contend that streetwear began with the California surfing culture in the 1950s and 60s. Others say streetwear did not come onto the scene until the emergence of the 1980s skateboard culture. But in between 1960s surfers and 1980s skateboarders, there was an entire generation of kids who actually made the skateboard a thing. Did they wear streetwear or not?
The question of what types of clothing actually make up streetwear is another hotly contested point. Abloh himself didn't consider T-shirts and hoodies streetwear. If you agree with his definition, our anime T-shirts and sweatshirts must be something else entirely. Perhaps you would consider them casual wear.
By the same token, there are others who believe T-shirts and sweatshirts are the foundation of streetwear. You choose your T-shirt or sweatshirt first, then choose a pair of jeans, sweatpants, etc. To go with it. Such a definition would be very welcoming of our anime apparel.
Anime Is Our Thing
To be fair, Abloh's insistence that streetwear was dying back in 2019 wasn't really a comment about people no longer wearing sweatpants, sneakers, hoodies, and T-shirts. What he meant by it was that the streetwear culture had been absorbed by the greater fashion industry. Where boutique labels and small manufacturers gave birth to the streetwear movement, it had since become corporatized.
Whether or not that is true, it will not prevent us from making and selling our anime sweatshirts, hoodies, blankets, and T-shirts. Our thing is anime. We love it. So do our loyal customers who purchase from us time and again.
Our concern is not whether fashion designers think streetwear is alive or dead. Our concern is our customers. As long as they want animate T-shirts, we will keep making them. As long as they want to wrap their smartphones in anime iphone cases, we will produce them too.
The whole debate over whether streetwear is dead is not actually about clothing. It is more about the fashion industry and its influence on the clothing culture. Maybe corporate fashion has absorbed the streetwear ideal. And if so, it could be a good or bad thing. But it will not stop people from wearing T-shirts, sweatpants, or sneakers.