From its early stages, the streetwear industry took on a rebellious form. It is rooted in the west coast surf and skate culture and eventually absorbed the hip hop scene to be what it is today. What was once an underground sub culture is now a multi billion dollar industry with many major corporate players.
What has always been a staple in streetwear has been the tweaking of corporate logos or familiar artwork and putting the labels own twist. This brings me to Barbara Kruger. Kruger was an artist who used black and white photography overlaid with bold fonts that contain a message. Below are some examples of her artwork.
Does any of this look familiar? It should because two of the biggest streetwear brands today have openly said that they are influenced by Kruger. Them being Shephard Fairey of Obey and James Jebbia of Supreme.
This leads to an interesting case between Supreme and Married to the Mob where MTTM made a t-shirt with likeness to the Supreme logo that stated "Supreme Bitch".
Supreme decided to sue MTTM for this design however I find it funny that Supreme's aesthetic isn't really his, it belongs to Kruger. When Kruger was reached for a comment, she gave a great response with the document titled 'Fools".
So many great things about email. For one, the attached document's title; 'Fools'. Second, calling out both labels as uncool jokers. Lastly, the fact that a 70 year old lady used the word clusterfuck. So good. Its easy to see why Fairey and Jebbia would be influenced by Kruger. Her message is bold, direct to the point and anti-authoritative. Plus her work is features in many art school text books making it even more impressionable on young artists.
After this ordeal, the streetwear industry responded in pure streetwear fashion. They tried to bank off of this because its all about being opportunistic. Got to love it.
So from now on, whenever you look at any streetwear brand, just know that all this was sparked because of a bitter 70 year old feminist art teacher named Barbara Kruger who liked combining black and white imagery with helvetica text in red boxes.