Reddit user u/devastationz fell in love with streetwear for the same reason countless guys his age did: a Kanye West album.
It was 2013, a much less thorny period for West (who in 2021 legally changed name to “Ye”), and in many ways a simpler tense for u/devastationz, which goes by Dev. He was finishing high school and had just begun to develop his own taste in music and style.
Dev got banged by West Yeezus album, as well as expensive sneakers, designer coats and leather pants who came with. Plus, he found an outlet for those interests — in a then fledgling subreddit called “r/Streetwear.”
“I was browsing Reddit, clicked the ‘random’ button, came across r/Streetwear and stayed,” Dev told In The Know. “It was the perfect time for him to appear when he did.”
In the years since, Dev has seen r/Streetwear grow into a vibrant and prominent community, with 3.2 million readers and posts that attract thousands of comments.
Additionally, the evolution of the forum has bypassed some of the trappings and traditions found in more traditional fashion communities, such as those on Instagram or TikTok. There are no influencers; no “professional” tastemakers to speak of. The posts aren’t ambitious, they’re achievable – held by ordinary people going about their daily lives.
CJ, an r/Streetwear user who, like Dev, is now one of the subreddit’s moderators (known colloquially as “mods”), told In The Know that, like Instagram, their community focuses on outfit photos. But the difference, CJ said, is how users react to those photos.
“We try to reduce negativity, so we like all criticism to be legitimately constructive,” he explained. “That’s the only way we’re a little different from Instagram: our community is much more supportive, whether it’s encouraging a poster to come out of its shell or celebrating when it does.”
The result is an environment that r/Streetwear mods often refer to as “authentic” and “authentic”. Many messages are taken from users own apartments Where use accessible clothing bought at Good will and similar savings chains. Others are taken during deeply related activities – like go to the gas station, walk the dog Where stop at an ATM.
“Because these are people taking pictures of their outfits, it forces you to be authentic,” Dev said. “It’s you, not your pet or a photo of nature. It’s a picture of you, your body, your clothes and your style.
CJ said the vibe of the subreddit owes a lot to its own diversity, but also to the diversity of streetwear in general. The style traces its history back to the 70s and 80s, even when it was an exciting, Frankensteinian mix of genres. Skateboarding, hip-hop culture, surf culture, sportswear and more played roles in the early iterations of streetwear.
Thanks to the rise of hypebeast culture, with brands like Stüssy, Supreme and The Hundreds — and of course, the influence of celebrities like West — streetwear has become mainstream. Still, it’s still a wide and varied corner of the fashion world, which CJ says leaves plenty of room for experimentation.
“Outfits are like art – a form of personal expression and style,” CJ told In The Know. “’Streetwear’ as a style is very broad. Streetwear in Japan is quite different from streetwear in Long Beach, so we encourage as much diversity as possible.
Another r/Streetwear mod, u/zacheadams, said that forum authenticity comes from all levels. Mods do their best to encourage uplifting and encouraging comments, which, in turn, creates a space where people feel comfortable sharing their style.
“I believe everyone wants to see everyone succeed,” he added.
It helps, mods say, that support can take many forms. Many r/Streetwear users are new to high fashion or are in the early stages of a design career. And although photos of outfits dominate the forum’s homepage, users also post memes, discuss each other’s design ideas and participate in megathreads on the fashion industry in general.
Comparing one-on-one social media interactions is an impossible task, although there is a feeling – at least among mods – that r/Streetwear is a unique and safe space for the expression of self. This distinction has only become more crucial with the steady stream of evidence that platforms like Instagram can have a detrimental impact on a user’s mental health, especially among women and teenage girls.
In a 2019 study, researchers found that among women aged 18 to 35, increased Instagram use was correlated with depressive symptoms, self-esteem issues, and anxiety about physical appearance. Other studies have shown that Instagram photos can have a negative impact a person’s body image and increase their desire to have plastic surgery.
On r/Streetwear, empathy and positivity are common themes. However, its members are always striving to do more.
” Compared to others [subreddits]we’re better at giving advice to each other,” another mod, who wished to remain anonymous, told In The Know, adding that they “hope that we mods can put a plan in place so we can improve the advice part in the future. ”
Many mods In The Know have spoken with have acknowledged the difficulties of scaling a community like theirs. As social platforms grow, the threat of toxicity looms. As u/zacheadams says, the current size of the forum is already a “challenge” in itself.
“We’re also trying to do more to train people and encourage them to be more constructive in their feedback,” he said. “It’s a lot of work to remove any negative content, but it’s crucial to fostering a better and more diverse environment.”
There’s also the feeling among mods that growth is coming for them, whether they like it or not. The subreddit was founded in 2011, and since then streetwear has only become a bigger part of Reddit’s cultural ecosystem.
“When it was a small community, you got to know people more and more,” Dev told In The Know. “You recognize names on posts, people post their own memes, and it generally has a greater sense of community. [Now it] has become more of a “look what I’m wearing today” community. It’s not bad, just different. That’s just the nature of growing and recruiting new members.
But if the last 11 years are any indication, r/Streetwear could be built to weather the storm. His same core principles – ordinary people, fire fits, supportive comments – got him this far. For forum mods at least, this seems like a good sign for the future.
“The long-term commitment to maintaining mutual interest in the vibrant and innovative culture [is what] Do it [subreddit] stand out,” the anonymous mod explained. “Moderators, veterans, newcomers are all welcome. I think everyone here wants to leave something good behind and hopefully be remembered for something.
If you liked this story, check out our story on what it’s like to moderate Reddit’s “AITA” forum.
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