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Street style "tribes" offered (and, for many, seem to have provided) that sense of community and shared identity that is so difficult to find in contemporary society. But while significant remnants of many of these subcultures remain scattered around the globe, such commitment and group identity have become less typical of the twenty-first cen-

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tury. Such looks are now, typically, plucked off the shelf of the post-modern "supermarket of style," tried out, promiscuously mixed with other looks, and then discarded.

However, while street style may now have entered a post-tribal phase, this is not to suggest that its importance has diminished, since fashion, in its strict, traditional sense, no longer structures and empowers most of the clothing industry. As the supreme expression of modernism, fashion's orderly, lineal production of new, "New Looks" and the consensus in the form of a singular, progressive "direction" that it demanded, is ill-suited to the complexity and pluralism of the postmodern age within which the possibility of progress, the value of uniformity, and the desirability of transience are increasingly questioned.

Originally attractive because of its perceived "authenticity," its offer of "alternative" choice and its capacity to "say" something significant about those who wear it, street style has moved into a key position within the clothing industry in a postmodern age characterized by a crises of identity, truth, and meaning. This is to say, not only has the "fashion industry" come to increasingly and persistently look to "the street" for design inspiration, but, more significantly, that how clothing functions in the early 2000s from the perspective of the consumer— how it is purchased, worn, and valued—is more rooted in the history of street style than in the history of high fashion. Consumers have, in other words, moved a very long way indeed from the world of Dior's "New Look" in 1947 and the direction of this movement is commensurate with that approach to dress and appearance that has come to be known as "street style."

The "bubbling up" of stylistic inspiration (often, modeled by up-and-coming pop musicians) has become widespread within every segment of the clothing industry including "High Fashion." Moreover, street style's delight in "timeless classics" and its disdain for the ephemeral (Hell's Angels never coveted "This Season's New Biker Look") is seen in a widespread resistance to throwing out everything in one's wardrobe just because some fashion journalist might claim that "brown is the new black." While once the consumer sought out a "total look" from a particular designer, it is increasingly

The Wild One Motorcycle Gang

Motorcycle gang from The Wild One. Johnny Strabler (Marlon Brando, center) and his motorcycle gang from the 1953 film The Wild One,which helped to popularize the tough, leather-clad look of bikers, is an early example of a street style influencing fashion. © John Springer Collection/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.

Motorcycle gang from The Wild One. Johnny Strabler (Marlon Brando, center) and his motorcycle gang from the 1953 film The Wild One,which helped to popularize the tough, leather-clad look of bikers, is an early example of a street style influencing fashion. © John Springer Collection/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.

thought that only a pathetic "fashion victim" takes such a passive approach. Thus, the construction of a presentation of self is increasingly seen as the work of the creative individual.

To this end, in a process that can be traced directly back to the Punks, the twenty-first century consumer— using garments and accessories from different designers, brands, or charity shops as "adjectives"—samples and mixes an eclectic (often even contradictory) range of looks into a personal style statement. This emphasis on what a look has to "say" also largely derives from street style. While pure fashion articulated only "This is new and I am therefore fashionable," street style was always deeply resonate with more complex personal (even philosophical and political) meanings—a choice of cut or color or fabric calculated to convey a precise summary of attitude and lifestyle. Street style obliged the individual to wear his or her values and beliefs on the sleeve—in a way that more often than not required commitment and courage. Arguably, it is this capacity to give visual expression to where one is "at"—to articulate personal differences and, therefore, to create the possibility of interpersonal connection between like-minded individuals—which, in an age of too much communication and too little meaning, is street style's most valuable legacy.

See also Hippie Style; Punk; Subcultures; Teenage Fashions; Zoot Suit.


Chenoune, Farid. A History of Men's Fashion. Paris: Flammarion, 1993.

Hebdige, Dick. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. London: Methuen and Co., 1979. A key text in the development of subcultural theory. Maclnnes, Colin. Absolute Beginners. London: Allison and Busby, 1992. A novel that was originally published in 1959.

McRobbie, Angela, ed. Zoot Suits and Second-hand Dresses: An Anthology of Fashion and Music. London: Macmillan, 1989.

Melly, George. Revolt into Style: The Pop Arts in the 50s and 60s. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989. A classic text; originally published in 1970.

Muggleton, David. Inside Subculture: The Post-Modern Meaning of Style. Oxford: Berg, 2000.

Muggleton, David, and Rupert Weinzierl, eds. The Post-Subcultures Reader. New York: New York University Press, 2003.

Olian, JoAnne. Everyday Fashions of the Forties: As Pictured in Sears Catalogs. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1992.

Polhemus, Ted. Streetstyle: From Sidewalk to Catwalk. London: Thames and Hudson, Inc., 1994. A summary of all significant "styletribes" from 1940s to 1990s; includes book, music, and film references for all groups in "Further Information."

-. Style Surfing: What to Wear in the 3rd Millennium. London: Thames and Hudson, Inc., 1996.

Redhead, Steve. Subculture to Clubcultures: An Introduction to Popular Cultural Studies. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1997.

-, ed. The Clubcultures Reader: Readings in Popular Cultural Studies. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998.

Ted Polhemus

STRIPED CLOTH The term "striped cloth" describes any textile woven, knitted, or printed in such a way that bands of different colors, evenly or unevenly spaced, appear on the surface of the fabric. Striped cloth is usually warp-faced cloth (that is, cloth in which the warp yarns lie on the cloth's surface) in which the warp yarns are laid out in bands of different colors, but striped cloth can also be weft-faced, or knitted, or printed to emulate woven stripes. Fabrics in which bands of different colors appear in both the warp and the weft (or are printed in such a pattern) are known variously as checks, gingham, tartan, and plaid.

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