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The world revolves around fashion and most people have the mentality of addressing you based on how present yourself and most people prefer making a statement through fashion. The disparate worlds of high fashion and streetwear at first glance seem totally opposed to each other. One style originated among the Parisian elite, creating high-profile, customized apparel for the wealthiest among us. The other style appeals to subcultures, taking fashion and returning its design and use to the general public. 

Despite these fundamentally separate origins and purposes, high fashion and streetwear have more in common than one may think. Daniel Patrick is going to highlight these and show how the two can come together in unity.  

Where Did High Fashion Start?

High fashion is commonly known by another name, haute couture. As stated previously, high fashion originated in Paris. It is arguably the definitive movement that defines Paris as an epicentre of the international fashion world. Though it is a French-originated trend, haute couture was coined by an English fashion designer.

The start of high fashion is directly correlated with the rise of fashion design itself as an art form. Charles Frederick Worth opened the first modern fashion house in 1858, radically changing the way people consumed style. He would create specifically-made clothing to fit the style and standards of those who could afford it.

Each piece would require countless hours of individual attention and result in personal, unique designs. This naturally led to a high price tag, high demand, and a high degree of prestige for the wearers. Worth intentionally wished to create a unique pedigree of fashion only available to the truly elite, and he achieved this. He also set the stage for countless other designers to follow in his footsteps.

An official organization for high fashion, the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, was founded in 1868. This organization sets forth specific principles which guide high fashion brands. In 1945, the French Government passed a resolution to give the term “haute couture” legal weight. This set specific requirements, including frequency and scope of product lines, employees, and operating standards for brands. 

Defining the history of how high fashion came to be is easy to do. Defining what high fashion is in concrete terms is significantly harder.

What Is High Fashion?

Defining high fashion in terms of pure style is nearly impossible to do. This is because high fashion as a term doesn’t really describe style so much as it describes standards for designers. 

The fashion inherently reflects the tastes and needs of the wealthy and high-powered. To this end, it is most often associated with formalwear, avant-garde designs, or apparel situated to formal events.

The reality is somewhat different. High fashion designers have taken fashion cues from nearly every movement and trend to elevate them. The specific fundamentals underlying high fashion contribute both to cost and desire. We are going to specifically highlight the legal definitions backing haute couture and trends resulting from these.

Streetwear, like high fashion, places individuality and quality at the forefront of its design. It does so from a completely different angle than high fashion does. High fashion was designed to be exclusive and only accessible to a certain class of people from the outset. Streetwear gained its sense of exclusivity from an overwhelming demand placed on many brands.

Streetwear started with subcultures in the 1980s. It started with people, unrepresented in mainstream fashion, taking it back for themselves with casual-inspired aesthetics. Surfers, skaters, and hip-hop artists across multiple continents all contributed towards it being what it is today. There is no singular “origin” of streetwear, as its core components developed in various places.

In hip-hop, fashion turned to sportswear for practical reasons. Sports apparel was durable and protective for use in extremely physical dancing and comfortable in daily use. The same saw sportswear-inspired aesthetics pop up in skater culture. Streetwear offers versatile fashion, able to be used in numerous circumstances. 

Surf culture offered up some of the more purely stylish-inspired streetwear. The brand Stussy started as a California-based surfboard manufacturer who decided to put logos on T-shirts to improve surfboard sales. To his surprise, the shirts outsold all other products, creating a massive streetwear brand in the process.

Streetwear primarily originated in New York and California. Many streetwear designers have interacted with and influenced each other over time, making it a collaborative process. On an international level, streetwear is primarily defined by Japanese fashion. The Harajuku district is particularly well-known for its overarching style across all cultures.

Streetwear is worth over 10 percent of the fashion industry’s overall 1.5 trillion USD valuation. With this extensive place in the market, it can rival any other type of apparel.

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