For decades, women in streetwear have been consistently misinterpreted and muted in mainstream media.
Changing the perspective, on “International Women’s Day,” Billionaire Girls Club (BGC) held a panel event, aimed to broaden the way we view women in the industry and dive into their responsibility for much of today’s culture.
“A Conversation about Women in Streetwear,” welcomed young women from the Lower East Side Girls Club and members from local women empowerment groups; Through our Lens Inc. and Applauding Power for a night of discussion and growth.
Taking a seat on the panel stage was a lineup representing the many different lanes in streetwear; Va$htie Kole (DJ/Director), Karizza Sanchez (Complex), Joy Yoon (Adidas), Olivia Anthony (LIV Streetwear), and Angela Chavez (OVO).
Moderating the boss group was none other than Miss Info, who in many ways has a staple in hip hop culture and media for almost two decades.
It was interesting to hear each panelist’s definition of what it means to be a “woman in streetwear” and what drew them into the industry individually. As a collective, they all seem to have fallen in love with streetwear in a very natural, creative way.
Anthony recalled watching her older sister mirror her boyfriend’s swagful clothes during the 90s and models her fashion line, LIV Streetwear after those moments.
“As a designer, all of my clothes are unisex. I’ve been inspired by just my sister matching her boyfriend going to the mall. I’ve always been inspired by women wearing men’s clothes.”
Similar to Anthony, Sanchez found herself drawn to streetwear by admiring women who have grown within and navigated the industry from different verticals aside from actual design.
The panel was a great example of how one can truly take something they are passionate about and make it a permanent part of their lifestyle. Streetwear is often just looked at as brands and clothes that are usually associated with a household name or perhaps a model, but it’s so much more.
Everyone from the photographer that shoots the campaigns, to the editors that discuss the culture around in which those clothes are flexed in, are all apart of streetwear. Sanchez expressed,
”Growing up, there were women who I saw in these positions not just as designers but behind the scenes. There are a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ women that people don’t know about or care to know about. Part of it is on us to do the research…
“There are so many brands that people like in streetwear where so many women are actually the ones doing the work. They may not be the founders but they’re the ones shooting the photos or designing the graphics.”
Streetwear is a multi-dimensional universe where men and women can shine in several respects. But, now at this point in time, society has reached a pivotal point because women who occupy interest in areas that are most common dominated by men are often looked at as novelties or are ultimately “othered.”
The whole thing pretty much feeds a cycle of women who have to consistently defend and prove their authenticity amidst stigmas fueled by sexism.
Kole has been a cultural creator and producer for over a decade and grew up hanging around mostly boys, and shopping in the “boys section,” but shared a struggle similar to many women, who loved sneakers but had to search high and low to find one in their size or their preferred color.
The cultural expectations for how men and women dress has plagued the sneaker industry for many years, segmenting different styles and colors for kicks with presumed colorways that women should wear. Major turn off.
“They’d used to term ‘shrink it and pink it’ so if there was a cool Jordan sneaker, they would take it and made it smaller and in pink for girls. They would make the assumption that all I want is pink. I think it’s interesting because the market is obviously changing and social media is helping,” said Kole
In 2019, it is much more common to see a girl in baggy pants and oversized tees and not automatically call her sexual preference into question, but it wasn’t always like that. Through apps like Instagram, more images of women wearing different street fits from all different skin tones, shapes, and ages are redefining how we look women in the industry.
Wearing baggy clothes, or sneakers to work isn’t a faux-pas or seen as less professional, but rather an admirable reflection of comfort. High fashion has picked up on this and many designer labels have been incorporating a streetwear-fashion into their collections, especially winter collections for women.
It’s a reality that circles back to Miss Info’s first question to the panel – ‘Is there more inclusion now that women in streetwear are trendy?’
Yoon, Studio Director at Adidas Program Creative Farm took a major pivot to follow her dreams at an early age, where her parents weren’t supportive of her diving into what seemed like unchartered territories for her. “I was planning on being a doctor, or rather, my dad was planning on me being a doctor…” she said.
“I was enrolled in school and two weeks in I decided I didn’t want to do it anymore-it didn’t make me happy. Happiness was the main driver for me, which at 18 was somewhat of an epiphany because a lot of people don’t realize how important happiness is until they’re a lot older.”
After hearing the news, Yoon’s father cleared her bank account.
There’s more to life, so why spend time doing something that doesn’t fulfill you? Why wear the clothes that society expects you to? The conversation around the panel not only translates to women in streetwear but essentially any male-dominated industry that women have to navigate.
The ladies answered questions from the young, aspiring ladies that filled the audience at SoHo’s BBC flagship store, urging them to both stay true to themselves as creatives and hold themselves accountable.
Let’s be honest, as much as it sucks, women are quickly scrutinized and scape-goated so consistency is truly key. Despite any shade, someone can throw your way, being a girl trying to do _____, your resume and reputation is factual proof of what you can produce, so uphold it the best you can.
Another strong sentiment the panel touched on was women supporting other women.
“It’s all about supporting. As women, we need to support each other and keep each other up and if there are more women designers out there, lean towards that because they are making it for us,” said Anthony.
Embracing your fellow ladies will only, in turn, elevate your voice as an individual and make these outdated narratives about gender more obsolete.
The Billionaire Girls Club panel was a refreshing way to celebrate the holiday that in actuality should be celebrated every damn day.
Giving young women exposure to a safe space that dives into this issue is blessing our young queens with the knowledge that will guide them to further broaden equality in all parts of the kulture.
Peep the drip from the event below.