Monday, May 08, 2006

URB: Street Style Grows Up

The three-page March cover of URB, a 15th anniversary issue, featuring 13 artists, makes for a good study in street style. Just looking at the footwear the artists are wearing is like watching a battle of coveted sneaker brands with Adidas takinga a slight edge over Nike and Puma.

Within the magazine, Roots drummer ?uestlove makes some fascinating comments on the evolution of black versus white street style, how dress reflects the music and how the underground has become mainstream:

"I see the counterculture becoming the standard, and I see the standard doing this underground thing. It happened with Nirvana, the whole idea of white people with this nihilistic lifestyle adaptation--the whole grunge look. Nirvana's steez was like, 'Yo, we're from the streets. We don't care about what the culture says we're supposed to be. We're the counterculture. We're the underground.' And they reflected that in their dress, their attitude, their whole delivery was that. Meanwhile if you look on the black side of things, Puffy was definitely the leader of 'We want the better things in life. We're gonna strive for it. You're gonna see us vacationing in the Cayman Islands. You're gonna see us on the biggest boat in the French Riviera. There are H-class diamonds, the higest quality you can get.' It was a tradeoff.

"It's weird. I'm seeing white people embrace the most ghetto of the ghetto, and I'm seeing black people become the most conservative muthafuckas ever. I DJed a party in Chicago and I was shocked to see that black people have totally lost their soul. For four hours, to get them to dance, to get them to have any type of primitive reaction, to get them to move their bodies, it was a struggle."

?uestlove certainly has his history down. But if you look at the images carefully, what's interesting is that whether black or white, all the artists sort of look the same. It's as if street style that was born in the '80s and '90s has come full circle, albeit from two different directions with the scruffy anti-label angst of grunge crashing head on into Puffy's high-life Fendi elitism, resulting in a hybrid that while still laid back, is built around a foundation of high-status brands, which are valued in part because you have to have inside information to either understand or obtain them, but also because they're not an internationally well-known/played-out couture brand. 'Cause labels like Channel are completely passe, dontcha know?

And I have to ask myself, is this the best of street style or the worst?

No comments: