Bringing Streetwear Back to its Roots

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By Founder of Jai Street Co, Tarak Jayachandran

Today, the streetwear scene seems ever so dominated by large retailers. As well as clothing brands who all seem to be overshadowing smaller, more innovative designers. Brands who are trying to tell their own story of streetwear.

Teenagers breakdancing next to a wall covered in grafitti, Brooklyn, New York, April 1984. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

In the 80’s and 90’s in urban communities and cities, streetwear formed literally in the street. Taking heavy inspiration from hip-hop, basketball and skate culture predominately in New York City and Los Angeles. The streetwear aesthetic we now all know of today started off with oversized graphic t-shirts. Paired with loose, baggy pants mostly seen on skateboarders. On the basketball court and in the music scene, track suits and bright, bold colors were the way to go.

In New York in particular, each borough had their own style or flare. So when people from throughout the city congregated, these unique styles eventually formed one distinct, street style. One thing that has stood out to many during this era was that a lot of times, you could tell where a person was from solely from how they dressed.


Now, if we look at streetwear today, its roots are slowly yet surely fading away. As widely recognized Supreme started off as a local skateboard store and clubhouse in the heart of SOHO. They were just purchased for 2.1 billion dollars by VF Corp who now also owns Southern California skateboard brand, Vans. A buyout like this will most likely increase the number of products being produced while seeing a decrease in quality and originality. It seems to be that every year, the products coming from these brands are less appealing and do not represent the wants of the original consumer of these brands anymore.

Supreme NYC

While many are looking for timeless pieces, these brands are now outlasting what they made yesterday, every day. Furthermore, I believe this should really come at no surprise, as this was bound to be the conclusion. While brands originally released a few limited collections each year, which each told a specific story consumers could connect to. It seems like commercialized collaborations between large companies popping up each week is the new normal. I find this quite harmful to streetwear. As it not only takes away the meaning but also creativity from a product many are looking for

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While this is going on at a very large scale, there are still creators and brands who are trying to represent. Bringing back what streetwear and streetstyle used to be. Instead of recognized logos being the focal point of all items. Each piece of clothing in each collection represents a certain image or narrative. While certain people are solely focused on top notch quality.

With some brands focusing on protecting the environment. Others are trying to revitalize or mimic old-classics with their own spin. In recent months, Toronto based studio and brand. Bent Gable Nits has worked with vintage Detroit Carhartt Jackets. Bringing them back to life through custom embroidery and collars to compliment the jacket’s natural fading. A representative for the brand says, “Having access to iconic brands that are dead, or seconds from it, and bringing them back to life is exhilarating for us.

Not to mention the independent creator, Stitch Gawd who believes in maintaining sustainability within fashion. Causing her to not mass produce her unique, cross-stitched creations. Instead of selling her creations and having a full on production team, she only works with clients who inspire her.

Lastly, take WhoJungWoo, a Los-Angeles based designer specializing in making limited runs of bootleg items. Twisting logos of some of the most highly-respected brands. While WhoJungWoo is doing something very unique for this time, he is also trying to bring back the work of many other streetwear bootlegs made popular in the 80s and 90s. This is all the future of streetwear, believe it or not filled with creators achieving their own vision while respecting and following the street style of the past.

The only way we can genuinely take streetwear back to its origins is by supporting these smaller and independent brands together. At Jai Street Co, my goal is to create a marketplace featuring developing brands and designers where they will be selling their products on a larger platform reaching a larger audience who would be interested in what they are doing. By achieving this, we can once again form a community which brings people together and everyone feels openly passionate for. In the coming years, it will be very interesting to see what turns streetwear makes either for the better or for the worse.

About Jai Street Co.

Jai Street Co is a clothing brand and creative space inspired by New York City street culture featuring photography, a curated digital moodboard and a blog.  Over the past year, the brand has been able to donate proceeds from multiple t-shirt releases towards organizations such as Feeding America and the Minnesota Freedom Fund. In the future, we have plans to start a marketplace filled with innovative streetwear from new designers and brands.


Instagram: @jaistreetco

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