Who knew where the hell Stone Island came from when hit the designer shops and football terraces of the U.K. in the late 90s apart from those who had bothered to read the labels or the everyday Italians who passed the unsuspected designer wear in their local shops. To those who had grown up looking at it, it was just another Italian label originally designed with one specific purpose – to keep the local fishermen warm and dry but for those wearing the designer brand in the U.K. it had other purposes. For many it was a status symbol to show others that they spent good money on good clothes but for most it told the visiting football fans that ‘We’re game and ready for battle!’
From the routes of football anarchism, the generation that once fought for their individuality in the most violent of ways began to conform to a fashion that became known as ‘Terrace Wear’, bore a resemblance to both fascism and socialism and wouldn’t go out of place at a either a Hitler or Stalin rally. For the first time in history it became boring and dull to wear designer labels, but all that would soon change.
With absolutely nothing interesting for teenagers to get up to in the 80s and 90s there was bugger all to do apart from take drugs, go to raves or get pissed up and have fights at football matches, so it was fair to say for that football hooliganism was the closest thing they had to an extreme sport and if hooliganism was an extreme sport then ‘Terrace Wear’ was extreme sportswear. No matter how boring it looked.
As the new millennium came in a new wave of extreme activities arrived that urban kids could get their kicks out of. Mountain Biking became fashionable and fun for both adults and teenagers alike and Trials MTB and Free Running hit the streets. And as skateboarding and BMX became more popular than ever a new fashion rose up from back street bike parks and skate parks and made it onto the shelves of Main Street designer clothes shops, a style that quickly became known as ‘Urban Streetwear’.
‘Urban Streetwear’ screams individuality mixing both retro and modern styles and consisting of combat pants, cargo shorts, hip hop style jeans and unique t-shirts sporting fresh graffiti and tattoo style designs. It is an untamed style that refuses to let main stream designer labels such as Ed Hardy, Affliction and Christian Audigier corner the market and has given birth to smaller independent brands like the Japanese designed Shiroi Neko and other smaller brands like Eternity, Billy Eight, Ronin and Kustom Kulture all made in Thailand.
Urban Streetwear has done for fashion what Punk Rock did for music back in the 70s and that is to give it a well and truly needed kick up the ass. No longer do kids feel pressured by their peers to go out and buy dull designer labels at extortionate prices just to be in with the crowd but can wear anything they want when they want, mixing and matching urban wear and skate wear brands at prices they don’t have to rob houses for to afford.