Why Has Political Streetwear Suddenly Become So Big?
From the left to the right to different parts of the globe, a new wave of political streetwear has been taking the nation by storm.
When you think of streetwear today, you tend to think of all different types of young people; skateboarders, fashionistas, rappers etc etc. However, what you wouldn’t normally associate it with is politics, although the connection has been there since its origins in the early 90’s. Streetwear has always carried an anti-establishment vibe with varying messages from world peace to poverty. As the political landscape has recently changed in Britain and around the world, political streetwear has become more and more noticeable.
One enormous and probably the best example of the youth of today mixing culture and politics is right here, in Britain, with Jeremy Corbyn. To millions of young people, Corbyn is seen as the saviour of the Labour Party, slayer of the Conservatives and, most important of all, the common working man. Since his ascendance into frontline politics, his popularity with the common, working class person has grown from strength to strength and these are the people for whom streetwear is synonymous with. You couldn’t imagine a Theresa May supporter for example, sporting some Supreme, Jordan or anything else that resembles urban streetwear. Corbyn and his ideas have captured the young vote in a way that the Conservatives can only dream of.
Corbyn supporters are cool and so are the clothes they wear, from Air Max sneakers to Stone Island jackets and hats and caps. Corbyn himself has even featured on t-shirts, namely an unofficial Nike branded one, with his name replacing the one usually above the famous tick. Another example is cult brand Bare Nostalgia and their homage/retro type creation which has been hugely popular. It is definitely safe to say that the political left in Britain and the streetwearing voters are very much allied together, but are there any other political leaders that have become so much aligned with streetwear and the people who buy it?
In the States, Barack Obama made history, becoming the first ever black President of the United States, attaining unbelievably high levels of popularity at the time with working class people who thought that he could change a lot of things socially for them. New York based kings of streetwear Supreme responded by releasing a selection of items, paying tribute to Obama titled ‘Thank you Obama’ and his perceived coolness. While Obama and his policies were not as far left as Jeremy Corbyns seem to be, you certainly wouldn’t describe him as being right leaning.
Other world leaders have found themselves being (very!) unlikely cult style icons despite their political allegiances. Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are about as far away from streetwear as you can go, however it hasn’t stopped them from appearing on their own range of t-shirts you can buy on the internet. Trump, with his campaign slogan “make America great again” plastered on bright red baseball caps started a wave of red baseball cap sales on both sides of the Atlantic, some with less positive slogans it must be said. And Putin, with his face on just about every item of clothing in Russia you can imagine, with his macho poses or his bond villain dress sense while out hunting in Siberia or visiting a ship in full Navy regalia.
If things keep going they way they are, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the bond between streetwear and politics grows ever stronger. While there are people such as Corbyn and Obama who inspire and encourage the working class that they can do anything when they put their minds to it. As more of the urban brands will undoubtedly pick up on the fact that streetwear and left leaning politics are going hand in hand, we can probably expect more tributes to the leading figures as well as even more unlikely style icons in the future. Political streetwear is just starting to get warmed up.