“Designer Bobby Kim on Streetwear’s Origins, Subcultures and DIY Spirit” -Newsweek

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Summary: ” Streetwear also has a lot of similarities to graffiti, in that it’s very ego-driven. It’s synonymous with brands care for Supreme, known, for limited edition clothing lines that spark fans to line up for hours outside flagship stores. Getty Images It’s very youth-spirited, both of those movements, and, accordingly is streetwear. Yeah, I think [women] are more comfortable with their ego, and don’t have to express it in such a way where…Like, the men are care for cavemen, just stomping around, ‘rawr,’ setting fire to things. And this is at the end of all these guys you interviewed saying they lost money in the business or that they’d discourage young people from starting their own brand. Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images From the outside, streetwear is just this cool thing, all these young guys lining up outside of stores buying expensive sneakers. Or this, you’d to travel to Tokyo to buy.’ Again, it’s like, being able to say, ‘I’m different kinds from you, and I’m special, because of what I’m wearing.’ The film is called Built to Fail, which sounds pretty pessimistic. And I think that that says something about the spirit of these kids that get into this thing, that they’re like, ‘Look, I know that this may not necessarily work, the odds are stacked against me but I’m going to be the one to overcome them. Originating in the early 1980s from both the skate-punk culture of Los Angeles, and the growing hip-hop movement of New York, streetwear is often associated with graphic T-shirt designs, pricey sneakers, glossy bomber jackets and modified baseball caps known as snapbacks. I’m going to be the underdog that becomes the champion.’ That’s what makes me, accordingly hopeful and positive about it all, is that I look at this young generation and I’m like, man, they’re dreamers, they’re passionate, and they don’t really care what the older generation has to say. In his new documentary film Built to Fail: A Streetwear Story, premiering this past weekend at the Los Angeles Film Festival, Kim traces the trend’s aesthetic and cultural origins in his hometown of L.A., interviewing pioneering designers such as Rich Klotz, the founder of Freshjive and Tommy Hilfiger, who helped bring streetwear to the mainstream in the 1990s. If you’re in streetwear and you’re down and about it, you know exactly what I’m talking about.” Here’s Kim on streetwear’s evolution, its relationship to ego, and just how social media is changing the private industry forever. I think I know it better and I want change.’ So it’s about this progression, it’s about leaving the rules and standards and what society gives you, and making something different kinds and better. It would’ve been cool, for someone who’s goal and outside the private industry to make a streetwear documentary but I don’t think they would’ve understood the nuances and the self-reflection, and all of the introspectiveness that we think about, as brand-owners and designers. And you also talk about just how that may be the reason there aren’t that numerous female designers in the industry, because it’s such a male-dominated, ego-driven space. It wasn’t even called streetwear [back then], it wasn’t looked at as “streetwear.” It was these independent T-shirt brands. It’s very focalized around a young ego saying, ‘Listen to me, look at me, I exist.’ That’s just branding in general: ‘I want the world to know that I’m here. To me, that’s really what streetwear represents and in the course of making this documentary, what I learned was that streetwear isn’t necessarily just one genre of clothing. Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images, for New Era Cap Co. But then towards the final end of the film, you take this optimistic viewpoint towards the future of streetwear. Skate culture contributed heavily to the emerging streetwear style explored in Bobby Kim’s “Built to Fail: A Streetwear Story.” To attempt toapproach this brand, building a brand from a traditional business perspective, is built to fail. These types of defiant youth are constantly looking at the structure, the dominant hegemony that’s come prior to and they’re saying, ‘Look, I want to live differently than the way my parents did. “Our methods sound outrageous, and pretty crazy but that’s a very streetwear approach to doing business,” Kim tells me. But to the designers and consumers that are intimately familiar with the concept, streetwear is a fashion aesthetic, a persona and a lifestyle rolled into one—and it’s quickly become a domineering force in style trends, for millennials. You have it on the designing final end of the culture, just where an artist is making their own T-shirt design and you also have the consumer coming up with their own personal style. Another set of brands comes in, they all think they’re doing something different. Todaro/Getty Images, for Agenda Emerge Culture Emails, and Alerts- Get the optimal ever of Newsweek Culture delivered to your inbox But, according to streetwear designer Bobby Kim, the core of streetwear is something much more absolutely essential and survivalist. Skateboarding was a means of misplaced and displaced youth looking at their environment and figuring out ways of turning surf [culture], and the more counterculture attitudes of punk, into a sport. I think it’s constantly been, like, even in the genre of hip-hop, it’s always been predominantly male-driven. Kim, who co-founded the brand The Hundreds (he’s known in the streetwear community as “Bobby Hundreds”), frequently brings up the egotistical nature of streetwear culture, citing just how he, and his business partner Ben Shenassafar fought to have access to their shirts sold at the popular Hollywood retail store Fred Segal. I’m different kinds from everybody else.’ I don’t know if that answered your question but I think that’s what it is. Streetwear has its roots in places care for the LA skating culture, and, also New York hip-hop culture.”

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