Reddit user u/devastationz fell in love with street fashion for the same reason as countless men his age – Kanye West’s album.
2013 was a less difficult time for West (who legally changed their name in 2021 to “Ye”), and in many ways was a simpler time for u/devastationz, which Dev goes to. He had graduated from high school and had just begun to develop his own taste in music and style.
Dave was shocked by West Jesus In addition to the expensive sneakers, designer coats, and leather pants that come with it. Moreover, he found an outlet for those interests – in a then emerging sub-forum called “r/Streetwear”.
“I was browsing Reddit, hit the ‘random’ button, and found myself on r/Streetwear and I was stuck,” Dave told In The Know. “It was perfect timing to show up when that happened.”
In the years since, Dave has watched r/Streetwear expand into a prominent and bustling community, with 3.2 million readers and posts attracting thousands of comments.
Moreover, the development of the forum has gone beyond some of the trappings and traditions found in the most popular fashion communities, such as those on Instagram or TikTok. There are no influencers. There are no “professional” tasting makers to speak of. The posts are not ambitious, they are achievable – clothes by everyday ordinary people going about their normal daily lives.
CJ, a r/Streetwear user who, like Dev, is now a subreddit (colloquially known as “mods”), told In The Know that, like Instagram, their community focuses on fashion images. But the difference, CJ said, is in how users interact with those images.
“We try to gradually reduce the negativity, so we like all criticism to be legitimately constructive,” he explained. “This is the only way we’re a little different from Instagram: Our community is more supportive – whether they’re encouraging the poster out of their shell or celebrating when they do.”
The result is an environment that many r/Streetwear Mods refer to as “authentic” and “authentic.” Many of the posts are posted in users’ private apartments or use accessible clothing purchased from Goodwill and similar thrift chains. Others are taken during activities they can relate to deeply – like going to the gas station, walking the dog, or stopping at an ATM.
“Since people take pictures of their outfits, that forces you to be real,” Dave said. “This is you, not your pet or an image of nature. It’s an image of you, your body, your clothes, your style.
CJ said the subreddit’s vibe owes a lot to its versatility, but also to the versatility of streetwear in general. The style dates back to the 70s and 80s, when it was an interesting mix of musical genres. Skateboarding, hip-hop culture, surfing culture, sportswear, and more played roles in early iterations of streetwear.
Thanks to the rise of hypebeast culture, with brands like Stüssy, Supreme, The Hundreds—and of course the influence of celebrities like West—streetwear is now part of the mainstream. However, it remains a wide and varied corner of the fashion world, which CJ said leaves plenty of room for experimentation.
“Clothing is like art – a form of personal expression and style,” CJ told In The Know. “Streetwear” as a very wide style. Street fashion in Japan is very different from street fashion in Long Beach, so we encourage as much variety as possible.”
Another r/Streetwear mod, u/zacheadams, said the forum’s authenticity comes from all levels. Moderators do their best to encourage supportive, supportive feedback, which in turn creates a space where people feel comfortable sharing their style.
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“I think everyone wants to see others succeed,” he added.
It helps, modifiers say, that support can come in many forms. Many r/Streetwear users are new to the world of haute couture, or are in the early stages of their design career. And while fashion pictures may dominate the forum homepage, users are also posting memes, discussing each other’s design ideas, and participating in huge discussions about the fashion industry in general.
Comparing face-to-face social media interactions is an impossible task, although there is a sense – at least among modders – that r/Streetwear is a uniquely safe space for self-expression. This distinction is becoming more important as evidence continues to flow that platforms like Instagram can have a detrimental effect on a user’s mental health, especially among women and teenage girls.
In one 2019 study, researchers found that among women between the ages of 18 and 35, increased Instagram use was associated with symptoms of depression, self-esteem issues, and anxiety about physical appearance. Other studies have shown that Instagram photos can negatively affect a person’s body image and increase their desire for plastic surgery.
On r/Streetwear, empathy and positivity are common themes. However, its members are always striving to achieve more.
“Compared to others [subreddits]We’re better at advising each other,” another manager, who wished to remain anonymous, told In The Know, adding that they “were hoping we could make a plan to be able to improve the advice part moving forward.” “
Many of the mods I spoke to in The Know acknowledged the difficulties of scaling a community like theirs. With the growth of social platforms, the risk of toxicity looms large. In the words of u/zachiadams, the current size of the forum is already a “challenge” in itself.
“We’re also trying to put more effort into building people up and encouraging people to be more constructive in their comments,” he said. “Removing any negative content takes a lot of work, but it is essential to foster a better and more diverse environment.”
There is also a feeling among the adjustment that growth is coming for them, whether they like it or not. The subreddit was founded in 2011, and since then streetwear has become a larger staple in Reddit’s cultural ecosystem.
“When it was a small community, I got to know people more and more,” Dave told In The Know. “You get to know the names in the posts, people post their memes, and they usually have a greater sense of community. [Now it] It has become more of a “look at what I’m wearing today” community. It’s not bad, it’s just different. This is just the nature of growth and the acquisition of new members.”
But if the past 11 years are any indication, streetwear may be engineered to weather the storm. Her same basic principles – lay people, fire spells, supportive comments – got him this far. For forum mods at least, this seems like a good sign for the future.
A long-term commitment to keeping the common interest in a lively and innovative culture [is what] makes this [subreddit] Stand out,” the anonymous mod explained. “Brokers, veterans, and newcomers are all welcome. I think everyone here wants to leave something good behind and I hope they will be remembered for something.”
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Reddit’s r/Streetwear forum is the internet’s coolest – and friendliest – fashion hub that debuted In The Know.