Today, street fashion has become such an integral part of our culture, that we don’t stop to wonder where it all began. Till the close of World War II in 1945, needless to say, the lifestyles of people were constrained and sparse. After the war ended, style was back in its rightful place and fashion icons started booming.
The world saw a massive growth of urbanisation, and along with it, came the urge to rebel. People had been suppressed for quite some time, and they were thirsting to break out of the shackles imposed by the war. After all, freedom to express has always formed an intrinsic part of autonomy.
This led to the growth of street fashion. While men’s clothing saw a shift towards casual t-shirts, casual pants, and shorts, women’s clothing was leaning towards chic styles. Long, or even full, skirts and jackets with broad, round-shaped shoulders, made the street fashion à la mode. Fashion was being different and finding solidarity in the unique. However, the uncommon was soon to become a trend.
Within a few decades, the style of a few was being adopted by many. Street culture was growing with the growth in cities. Along with it, street fashion started maturing. People had started experimenting with their clothes, and fashion was becoming more diverse. The line between men’s and women’s clothing was getting thinner and the need to be more individualistic in fashion was getting stronger. Clothes were not just utilitarian now, but rather, a statement of who you were. During this time, street fashion took a new turn towards street style. What used to be traditionally men’s attire – pants, overalls and jackets – was being adopted by women. Fashion for men also started diversifying. Leather pants, skinny tights and short shorts were popular amongst men’s wear. People started associating fashion to ideologies, and choosing clothes as a medium of expression and solidarity.
Till this time, street fashion was very much a part of the streets. The style of the common folks was yet to hit the world of glitz and glamour. That is, until the street-runway caught the attention of photographers like Jamel Shabazz and Bill Cunnigham. Soon, fashion from the streets hit the glossy pages of magazines. The mainstream fashion industry had finally started catering to those it was always meant for – the common folks.
By the beginning of the 21st century, the era of the Internet had begun, and it allowed street fashion to become a global movement. Photographers could now showcase fashion from New York to the streets of Tokyo. By ‘exchanging’ fashion, more unique styling started appearing across the world.
Street fashion had always signified a paradox – solidarity in diversity. It created unique styles for people to express their individual selves, and at the same time, created a sense of community of people with similar values. The bikers had their own style of leather ensembles and dark clothes, while hippie fashion was all about colourful blouses and bell bottom pants. In clothing, people found their community, tying them together and distinguishing them from the rest. With the dotcom boom, fashion photography blogs snowballed, and street fashion became popular in the true global sense of the word. People started finding their communities based on their ideologies, instead of geographical or racial boundaries.
However, till about a couple of decades back, street fashion was simply being consumed by the common people. The creators and the consumers were from two different worlds, and the bridge was quite a distance to cover.
This gap was soon to reduce significantly with the advent of social media. As social networking took over the world of the Internet, people started relying on each other – faces like their own – for inspiration on clothes and fashion. This led to the booming industry of fashion bloggers and influencers. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook allowed common people to exhibit their own styles and choices, and in turn influence countless people on their buying choices. Today, bloggers have become the new fashion icons. People started trusting the word of the faces that looked like their own, rather than the ones of celebrities. Brands were quick to recognise this growing trend, and the consumers themselves became the brand ambassadors. Street fashion was completing a full circle by coming back to the streets.
But in all these changes, one party was sorely ignored – the artists. Fashion and style don’t appear out of thin air. There are artists and creators, whose talent and efforts are the reason that fashion exists, in the very first place. Some of the most brilliant designs donned by the street are not seen in galleries, but on walls, in the form of graffiti. The uber-comfortable style of straight cut denims and sneakers was heavily influenced by the hip-hop culture. The original rebellion in the form of dance can be seen, not in studios, but in the street clothes. Let’s not forget about music. If you believe that Kanye-like clothes are a recent occurrence, think again. Music has influenced fashion for decades. Think back to the music of sixties. You can probably imagine some of the most legendary artists of rock and pop music, and you wouldn’t be wrong. The psychedelic music culture impacted street fashion to a large extent, and clothes started becoming looser, more comfortable, and of course, more colourful. Both the music and fashion of this era screamed Bob Dylan.
Sure, a few of the iconic artists received their well-deserved fame. However, most independent artists have always struggled for their dues, whether in terms of money or recognition. For years together, unknown names and faces have created the most common form of expression – fashion. And for all those years, most of these names have remained in the dark. Half Past Black was formed with the ideology of bringing the street back to the streets. We believe that streetwear revolution is all about respecting the art that we wear, and supporting the artists to whom we owe our style.
We get inspired by the art we see, and then collaborate with their creators, to bring you designs straight from the source. We work with independent musicians, dancers, graffiti artists, skaters – you name it – and we print their vision on to Half Past Black clothes.
Trendsetters? It’s too early to tell, but we sure hope so. Pioneers of street fashion? There are far too great names in that list, and we don’t have the audacity yet. Changemakers? Maybe, or maybe just another clothing brand. We will let you decide.
All we know is that people will stare. And as Harry Winston would approve, we are here to help you make it worth their while.