Women’s streetwear fashion may be the new talk of the town, however, as female consumers, we have to ask ourselves: Is Streetwear really ready for women? Fashion is seeing a revolution, all the well-tailored clothing with avant-garde silhouettes is slowly being replaced by looser, boxier fits and on the center of it all, streetwear reigns proud. Haute couture specialists like Givenchy have started parading more casual streetwear down their runways and brands like Yeezy, that specialize in such clothing, have become mainstream. Perhaps it’s a sign of changing times and the realignment of what ‘luxury’ truly means. However, the truth remains that streetwear is a heavily male-dominated niche.
The Story of Women's Streetwear Fashion
Although streetwear has only recently captured mainstream attention, it is in no way a new fashion style. In fact, it is not even a trend, it is a subculture in itself. The early adopters of this style took inspiration from thrift stores, work uniforms, skater style, and sportswear, and added hints of musical influence from the genres of reggae, punk, and hip-hop. It rose as a counterculture aesthetic that referenced music, sports, clubbing, and community. Iconic women like Aaliyah and Neneh Cherry were rocking streetwear out and about before this style even had a name. And now, figures like Billie Eilish are carrying that fashion legacy.
Lack of Options in Streetwear for Women
Streetwear was originally made for men and catered only to them. Women thus had to scour male clothing stores if they wanted to take part in this fashion movement. In “The Female Economy,” a 2009 Harvard Business Review article by Michael J Silverstein and Kate Sayre, it states that “Globally, women control about $20 trillion in annual consumer spending, and that figure could climb as high as $28 trillion in the next five years. Their $13 trillion in total yearly earnings could reach $18 trillion in the same period. In aggregate, women represent a growth market bigger than China and India combined.” And ignoring the needs of this large consumer base would not have been the wisest choice by fashion brands.
There is definitely more availability of streetwear outfit options for women today. However, even now, there are still a few brands that only offer options for men. On top of that, some brands that do carry options for women follow a ‘shrink it and pink it’ policy- they release the exact same items in a smaller size and more traditionally ‘feminine’ colors without modifying the clothes to be more fitted to a woman’s body. Although streetwear erased the lines of race, it hasn’t managed to erase the lines of gender- most streetwear sneaker brands didn’t even offer smaller sizes until very recently!
The Present Condition of Women’s Streetwear Industry
Over twenty years ago, X-Girl became one of the first major brands to sell streetwear clothing designed to fit women’s bodies. They carried pants that were still baggy at the bottom but were made to fit better around the waist. They offered t-shirts that still had the signature streetwear loose fit but didn’t need to be cut or tucked in alongside wide a-line dresses. Today, brands like Fenty and Stussy follow a similar model. Others appeal to women simply by offering smaller sizes or unisex designs.
Women's Streetwear Brands of Today
There are growing options for women who want to give the streetwear style a try. We have rounded-up ten women-owned brands that create clothing items catering to the female streetwear-loving crowd. After all, who better understands the fashion needs of a woman than another woman?
X-Girl: We have mentioned and applauded X-Girl and its influence in the women’s urban streetwear clothing scene and we can’t make this list without including them. X-Girl was founded in the summer of 1994 by Kim and Daisy who designed “real clothing”, a collection of clothing composed of pieces that they actually wanted to wear. Decades later, the brand is still creating basic style pieces inspired by rock, military, outdoor, sports, and street culture factors.
Aries: Aries was co-founded by Sofia Prantera in 2012 and is famous for its affinity for tie-dye fabrics, unisex designs, and a high-fashion-meets-streetwear vibe. Today, Aries dominates among the anarchic and bold who likes their clothes to have the fine Italian-crafted quality. No wonder it has achieved a cult label status!
Alta 8: We couldn’t speak about street-ready brands without mentioning our armwear brand Alta 8. Alta 8 armwear was created by our founder Piagét Abbasi for the simple purpose of layering without disturbing the rest of your outfit. Today, we have thirteen different designs that can instantly elevate your look. It’s the perfect on-the-go accessory for the on-the-go life.
Frankie Collective:Creative Director Sara Gourlay runs the show over at this brand that focuses both on the past and the future. They are known for creating innovative streetwear designs by taking inspiration from 90’s staples and reworking vintage garments to create their beloved clothing. They sell reworked garments from streetwear veterans like Supreme, Champion, and Kappa to create their signature items.
MISBHV: Founded in 2016 by Polish designer Natalia, MISBHV started as a side project to make fake designer T-shirts for her and her friends to wear at clubs. After cultural icon Rihanna wore their jacket to her ANTI performance in London, this brand took a life of its own. Today, it’s one of the leading brands in the Women’s streetwear scenes.
Prix Workshop: Esther Ng, the brains behind this brand, hails from New Zealand and is on her way to leave her mark on the fashion world. She cites ‘ugly’ clothes as her inspiration and her clothing style as ‘not too serious’, an attitude that is definitely reflected in her designs. She’s definitely doing something right as one of the brands’ many ‘it’ fans include celebrities like Kylie Jenner.
I.AM.GIA: Instagram’s favorite streetwear brand I.AM.GIA can be seen on the likes of popular figures like Bella Hadid, Selena Gomez, Emily Ratajkowski, etc. Co-founded in 2017 by Stevie Cox, this brand boasts a million followers on Instagram and is one of the most recognizable names out there!
MadeMe: MadeMe is here to celebrate the counter-cultural style groups alongside the women who pioneered them and it’s clear through their designs. Plus, their motto is “by girls, for girls” and if that doesn’t sum the essence of this list, we don’t know what does! MadeMe represents “the dynamic perspectives of today’s downtown youth” and we are here for it.
LIV Streetwear: Hailing from Bronx, New York, LIV streetwear has made its own path since the day of its inception by founder Olivia Anthony in her college dorm room. This brand specializes in clothing that merges ’90s aesthetic with athleisure, resulting in cozy streetwear outfits with an extra edge.
HLZBLZ:: Created by Lawn Alabanza-Barcena in 2005, HLZBLZ merges New York and California street style to create bold statement style pieces. They always pay tribute to the "bra-burning 60's" and support female empowerment by mixing traditional femme silhouettes with a taste of the street sensibility.
And that’s our brief take on the women’s streetwear fashion subculture, its history, and the brands currently shaping the industry, let us know what you want to read about next!