“You can’t sustain a business on women’s streetwear,” Leah McSweeney, founder of Married to the Mob said at a talk Mastered put on last January. “It’s just not big enough.” And while McSweeney’s expertise in the matter isn’t debatable, a new generation of streetwear designers are steadily approaching and building out their offerings in the female space.
Streetwear is in an interesting spot right now. Historically the term referred to brands that used pre-made garments to print graphics on that referenced the street, or what we call “the culture.” Brands that work in that vein, putting an emphasis on the graphics of pieces as opposed to the pieces themselves still exist, the most notable of which is no doubt Supreme. But since the early 2000s, a new group of designers have emerged that count “the culture” as a key point of inspiration but place a focus on the actual creation of their garments, creating new silhouettes and working with premium materials. This week, two of those labels have made in-roads to the women’s market.
On Thursday, Kith announced that they had tapped Emily Oberg, a former anchor for Complex and the creator of the brand Sporty & Rich, to be the creative lead for their women’s line. While the company’s founder Ronnie Fieg has seemingly chafed at the term streetwear being used to describe his pieces (he once told Racked “To be honest, when you look at the apparel, I don’t really consider it streetwear”) there’s no doubt that his brand sits as a part of this new, unnamed generation of designers.
Oberg’s recruitment shows that a focus is being put on the women’s line, which though strong, has not been receiving the same emphasis as it’s older brother. But with Oberg in tow, her first collection debuting this fall, that will no doubt change. “I feel like the women’s side needs a voice and direction from somebody who will be wearing the product,” Fieg told Business of Fashion. “We think that Emily represents the youth and has her finger on the pulse… she has great taste and I think she fits our aesthetic and where we’re going as a brand.” But Kith isn’t alone.
Jerry Lorenzo, the man who has worked with both Kanye West and Justin Beiber on their fashion collections, released images of the fifth collection form his brand Fear Of God. While the designer told industry trade journal Women’s Wear Daily that he didn’t intend on getting into womenswear, he did make sure to include pieces sized to fit them and pieces like a blush pink satin. Of the latter design he said “In all honesty, I knew I wanted something that said ‘woman.’”
The trend is a good one; Puma just credited Rihanna and the growth of their women’s business for their successful year and the sneaker business is tangential to the streetwear market. Los Angeles-based designer Chris Stamp of his own brand Stampd also got into women’s back in 2015 (he also released a capsule in late 2016) and promised he would return when he built out his team. When he does launch officially, we have no doubt that the pieces will be an instant cop for cozy girls everywhere.
Mikelle Street is a Manhattan-based freelance writer and editor. You can follow him on Twitter here.