With the 35th anniversary of streetwear-rooted retailer Slam Jam Milano, founder Luca Benini shared his insights on the always hotly-debated topic of the future of streetwear. Pushing back on ongoing critiques of the category as a passing fashion trend, Benini in an exchange with WWD said, “I believe that a statement like ‘streetwear is dead’ can come only from those in fashion, not those looking at costume at large. Fashion takes and rejects, and if we think of streetwear as a food ingredient, there’s been a sort of overuse; it was everywhere just like parsley. And since fashion has to change by definition…[it’s understandable] that after years, there was a need to go back to something more minimal.”
“Streetwear is dead just like punk is dead, which is never dead, because even after 50 years, we still talk about it. Streetwear existed before fashion noticed it and will exist after it, too,” added Benini. “What happened was that after decades that [streetwear] was ill-viewed from the fashion system, at a certain point the industry realized there could have been something to take even from there. That basically it could offer a lot and it did. In return, streetwear received a lot from this closeness to fashion, as well: it understood that clothes could be made better, it upped the quality.”
Legacy fashion publications writing about the decline of streetwear has become a sub-genre of sorts with editors often reducing the movement to t-shirts and sneakers rather than a meaningful subculture driven by youthful expresion. Benini’s more bullish sentiment on streetwear stands in contrast to a recent NY Times article titled “Why Streetwear Is Dead,” along side a Business of Fashion piece titled “Is Streetwear Still Cool?“
Lucas Benini established Slam Jam in 1989 and is credited as helping spur Western European growth of brands like Stüssy, Carhartt WIP and Alpha Industries. In 2015 he co-founded 1017 Alyx 9SM with Matthew Williams, who is currently the creative director for Givenchy.