Is Streetwear The New Americana?

by MR Magazine Staff

Indeed, the essentials that make up a classic American wardrobe have certainly evolved over time, but the reasons for these choices have remained somewhat constant. According to fashion historian and costume curator Deirdre Clemente, who’s covered American style extensively from college students’ casual form of dress to the evolution of business casual, America started to find its own aesthetic around the end of World War II; breaking away from Europe allowed Americans to break away from a European-prescribed fashion system as well. “One of the things that defines American style as opposed to Europe, which has a much more rigid class system, is that Americans have the tendency to dress towards the middle, and this has become progressively true throughout the 20th and into the 21st century,” says Clemente. “Starting at about the 1930s, dressing like you have money became uncool.” Clemente’s definition of an American wardrobe comes down to practicality and versatility. Workwear clothing, which is often tied to Americana, covers those exact two bases. “Americana style is rooted in heritage workwear — anything from raw denim and utility shirts to field jackets and flannel shirts,” says Brian Trunzo, senior menswear editor at WGSN. Think heritage brands like Carhartt, Pendleton, Dickie’s and Levi’s. Denim jeans, says Clemente, were generally worn by prisoners in the 1930s for their durability, as well as by cowboys and farmers working at rodeos and ranches. So what defines Americana style today? It’s not exactly the heritage brands that sparked the #menswear movement back in the early 2000s, because the manufacturers that built them rarely exist. According to Marketwatch, apparel industries in the U.S. are down more than 80 percent since the 1980s; textile mills have also decreased by about 50 percent since 2000. “Those are the factories and jobs that are really gone for good,” reports writer Rex Nutting. And with the current political administration’s anti-immigration stance, a comeback for U.S. garment production — currently fueled by skilled immigrants — is quite the challenge. Read more at Fashionista.