Street and urban wear’s origins are rooted in music and sports. Hip hop was the single biggest musical influence on street style, but there’s no single sport that can be singled out as an inspiration for urban fashion. Each has contributed different elements to the look, from jerseys to caps to sneakers.
Looking back at West Coast fashion in the early days of streetwear confirms that skate boarders and surfers undoubtedly played a huge role influencing some of the movement’s most famous brands like Stussy. But it’s also true that street wear has had a life long love affair with sports jerseys. While basketball and football may have the lion’s share of fashion appeal, baseball jerseys — and more recently soccer jerseys — are staples of urban style.
Baseball has the monopoly on caps. In the 80’s and 90’s manufacturers started playing with the traditional cap colors and styles leading to a rise in popularity and sales. Now you see all types of caps; they might not have a baseball teams’ logo on them, but that just goes to show how far cap fashion has come.
Arguably, the biggest and best selling product that sports has contributed to streetwear fashion is the sneaker. While Run DMC and the Ramones helped to make Adidas and Converse popular, it was basketball that can be pinned as the originator of sneaker culture. Michael Jordan may have changed the game of basketball, but he also almost single-handedly created a sneaker craze that lasts to this day. Air Jordan’s were the most anticipated sneaker release of the year and tended to sell out in less than a day — an extraordinary feat considering there was no online shopping back then. Today sneaker heads collect and show off their shoes not just a fashion statement, but also as a unique expression of their personal style.
Whether you profess your love for the Mets or the Lakers, urban fashion has taken jerseys, caps and sneakers beyond their purpose as a simple expression of team loyalty. Streetwear has reinvented these garments to become unique expressions of self and personal style.