Women Who Helped Change The Streetwear Game
Let’s take a trip down memory lane. I remember going to sites like Nastygal and Karmaloop and finding cool graphic t-shirts and pieces made specifically for women. It seems like now a days women spend so much time in the mens’ section, mainly because there aren’t any specific street wear brands for us anymore. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love a good crop top here and there, but to me and many other women like me, we don’t want to look like that all the time. Most women like variety and after packing on those quarantine pounds, we like to be more comfy at times-or at least until we can shed some of the extra Netflix series fluff.
I was having a conversation with my sis Essie, and we were talking about some of the women streetwear brands we had growing up and it got me thinking. Where have they gone? What or who has taken their place in street wear? Are we so caught up in gender neutrality in fashion that we don’t care about having female focused streetwear brands?
In this piece I want to talk about a few of those trailblazer women who saw a need and went for it.
Hellz Bellz (HLZBLZ)
When HLZBLZ hit the streets in 2005 it made quite an impact. Creative Director and Founder, Miss Lawn wanted to create a brand that merged her love for music, art and fashion. Surprisingly enough Miss Lawn was a designer for a few major street wear brands like Roc a Wear and 555 Soul before starting out on her own. Mostly known for edgy graphic tees and pieces that made her male counterparts jealous. HLZBLZ is the the mixture between streetwear and girl power, using iconic females like Lauryn Hill, Selena, and Erykah Badu.
For the past 10 years, the brand has managed to remain relevant by collaborating with other brands like Vans, Stussy, Hello Kitty and 40s and shorties.
Married to the Mobb
When Leah McSweeney started Married to the Mobb (MTTM) in 2004 she had no idea that it would have the impact that it did. During that time there weren’t that many female inspired street wear brands. McSweeney had one goal, to make her brand “Bold, edgy and unapologetically feminist” which she has managed to consistently do for over 14 years.
Being able to pivot is one of the most important things a brand can do in this culture. By partnering with other brands like Reebok, Kaws and others, MTTM has been able to stay relevant and continue to thrive. As I was trolling the Married to the Mobb site, I noticed that in addition to the edgy graphic tees they’re known for, McSweeney and her team bring mental health and women’s rights to the forefront as well.
Ok so Walker Wear isn’t neccesally a female only streetwear brand, but if we are talking about trail blazers in the space, it goes without saying that April Walker is just that. Walker was the first woman to start a street wear line in the 90’s and has since been a staple in the community. By working with the likes of Tupac, Aalyiah, Biggie and Snoop Dogg, she has definitely solidified her presence in the fashion world.
Having such a vast history can make any brand seem stoogy, but Walker has remained pretty consistent. After her relaunch in 2013, Walker Wear still has an online presence, still creating her iconic pieces as well as curating custom and vintage pieces for her clients. In addition to creating Walker also shares her wealth of knowledge with students in the “Streetwear Essentials” courses offered through a collaboration with FIT and Yellowbrick learning.
Starting off as a dream in 2007, Laura Fama and Ashley Jones started Dimepiece LA. Their goal was to not only create a women’s clothing brand, but to also celebrate female empowerment and positivity. Known for tees with funny and catchy sayings, Dimepiece LA has been a huge player in the female streetwear community. Worn by various celebrities and influencers like Baddie Winkle, Cassie, Nikki Minaj, Miley Cryus, and Rihanna, Dimepiece LA has been on the forefront of women’s fashion. In 2018, they decided to add environmentally responsible to their repertoire, by creating shipping packages that are animal friendly, and 100% plastic free.
Collaboration is the key! Dimepiece has worked with Beats by Dre, Joyrich Clothing and Adidas in various campaigns and activations in order to push the culture forward. In most recent years the brand has relocated across the pond to the UK and both Laura and Ashley has shifted their focus with Laura creating the “Conscious Kitchen” Podcast, and Ashley shifting more towards interior design and wellness.
As we continue to expand streetwear, merging gender specific clothing and more and more women shopping in the mens section to complete certain fits. Over the years we have been more female brands come to the forefront like Melody Eshani. Although it is important for us to continue to evolve, it is just as important to look back to see of the brands that started it off, took the risks and made it possible for us to have choices in streetwear.