Long before Virgil Abloh said that it was dead / about to die, many have speculated about the rise and fall of streetwear.
This won't be an all too in-depth look into the history of it all, but I need to define what I mean by streetwear before diving in and making it all very, very vague.
The Fake Term.
When people refer to anything as streetwear I usually cringe a little, sigh, and assume that they have the wrong perception. The term has been so co-opted and used in the wrong context that it now just feels like a futile simplification of "what the youth wears these days". And to be perfectly honest: that description would be kind of accurate albeit too broad.
Here we walk into our first problem. The 'real' definition and the co-opted definition. Having the latter explained in the previous paragraph I will now try to put into words my personal interpretation. From this point forward when I refer to "Streetwear," it will be my own personal perception. And when I say fake-streetwear it should be clear what I'm referring to.
The Real™ term.
So now, the real™ meaning of streetwear. To me it has always been what the subcultures of the street wear, specifically those that do not care about the fashion scene.
When I go skating or attend a small punk gig there's no one actively thinking about their looks in the same way the more fashion-oriented people are. When you're skating, at a punk gig, shooting some footage, taking pictures or creating art, you're not focused on fashion week or that a new H&M is opening its doors soon.
Streetwear is what we -who roam the streets, doing what we love- wear when we are lost in the world doing said things. These clothes can be anything. Maybe your friend who is a painter likes to do so in full Gucci. Or maybe you know of a skater who hasn't bought any new clothes in years and just obtains everything from the bins or whatever his parents (want to) throw away. And you can wear the same items as them, but without those actions, hobbies, and interests behind the clothes, you're just another empty person in a uniform that you copypasted into your closet. This leads me to the next thing.
At a certain point in modern history, it became normal to not have any interests or hobbies. Where people only consume the basics of everything. You listen to top 40 music, go see some blockbusters now and then, go clubbing on those same top 40 songs and of course... wear the same fast-fashion junk like everyone else because it's so safe and easy to do.
The life you live is somehow "preparing" for the future. Get a job, save some money, buy a house, get married, create a family, keep working. Life is planned out, your years are planned out, your weeks are the same. School in weekdays then go out and work on the weekend.
Without going into too much of an anti-capitalist rant here you may already see what is so wrong about this. People stay in line and act safe, build their life and career without ever enjoying what the world has to offer. Fast fashion companies just pump out the lifeless sludge that was once proudly worn by the people mentioned in the previous paragraph. The soul and essence of what is streetwear has been lost into the basics of everything.
The street, where it belongs.
What's funny to me is that the term streetwear itself is almost useless. Those that are actually wearing it would never name it. It is a term made up by those big companies to add a little personality to their clothes. And by doing so give the people that wear their lifeless sludge a sense of personality too.
Maybe that's not so bad. They deserve to feel like they're not just human-shaped robots following orders from the human-shaped robots that created them.
But to say that it is dying is unfactual. Streetwear is very much alive. But those that keep it alive will probably never hear about it dying in the first place. They are too busy living life instead of being bothered by some term or technicality.
And that's my advice too. Maybe just quit thinking about this made-up term that doesn't define or change how we dress and live. If you're so worried about streetwear dying than you're focussing on the wrong thing.
With an oversaturated market of kids following the wrong definition of a word made up by some huge fast fashion company, it is bound to die. Because they try so hard to make it "streetwear" instead of making it their own.
They lose because they play by the rules made up by people they can't compete with.