a street style journey through british subcultures at new exhibition
Londonnewcastle project space is celebrating 25 years of British street style.
From the dawn of straight up photography, conceived in the very first pages of i-D, to the rise of the street cast model, British street style has shaped the way we experience fashion. To celebrate London streetwear brand Boxfresh's 25th anniversary, the Londonewcastle Project Space will host a four-day exhibition charting 25 years of Britain's most iconic street style trends. From music to politics, 89:14 - A Street Style Journey will examine the various influences of streetwear while Nina Manadhar's What We Wore, a photographic essay about youth culture, aims to map the people's History of street style by asking visitors to contribute their earliest memories of what they wore way back when. On the day of its opening we caught up with curator Tory Turk to talk about British street style, then and now.
What does Street Style mean to you?
I would find it really hard to come up with a definition, However, I would say that it is 'style' that helps define who someone is - made up of sartorial semiotics. People express who they are through their clothes.
How has British streetwear evolved over the years?
Since the 50s, societal and economic changes have meant that the post-war generation expressed themselves differently. Freedom of expression has gained significant momentum over the past 60 years. Street Style has had a snowball effect with more and more styles being added.
How do you think things like social media and the Internet have shaped what we think of as Street Style?
Ted Polhemus coined a great expression - "The Supermarket of Style". Now everyone can pick and choose from so many styles and tribes; the Internet and social media have made these style mash-ups more and more common.
Can something truly be called streetwear if it can be assimilated into mainstream culture at the click of a button?
I guess so, why does it matter? Things change and right now we are in a post-digital revolution, so that is just the way we live now.
Does music still affect streetwear in the way it used to?
Definitely and it always will. Music and fashion make up a person's ideology.
What do you think are the main influencers of street style today?
Everything. I think everyone bounces inspirations off one another.
How does that differ from the streetwear of generations past?
I think lines between tribes merge a bit more.
Can street style still be political?
Definitely; I would use grime as an example.
How would you describe the relationship between the catwalk and the street?
They borrow from each other, the catwalk more consciously. Money is often related to success. Clothes on the catwalk are less affordable, therefore being able to show you can afford designer clothes is a great way of peacocking.
Do you think by the time that streetwear has hit the high street it's lost some sense of authenticity?
The high street is a different place than it used to be, in the 90s, 'cool' people wouldn't be seen dead shopping on the high street and now it is totally normal. The high street has upped its game. Brands are being started by people who are part of the baby boom generation and younger who know what people want, get their ideologies and supply it.
How has the relationship between streetwear and street style photography changed over the years?
I guess you could extend Toby Young's "Me Generation" title to say we are now "The I generation", totally obsessed with taking pictures of ourselves, unashamedly. People take their own street style pictures now.
What is the future of streetwear?
I think we can't predict it...it has to happen organically.
Text Tish Weinstock
Photography Nick Ensing