Street fashion encompasses many types of looks worn by people IRL – that is, off the catwalk. It therefore has an inbuilt element of practicality, although arguably it must go beyond that to qualify as street fashion, rather than merely everyday dress. It commonly operates as a tool for communicating individual identity, group affiliation and personal taste.
In truth, street fashion can manifest in looks that are just as unconventional as those seen on the catwalk. As it is not intended to sell its components (at least not in the same sense as a catwalk look), its focus falls to personal expression, and this can range from clichéd and imitative to exceptionally original and one-of-a-kind.
Between those extremes, street fashion encompasses the realm of subcultural trends, which are smaller brackets of trends within and divergent from those common in the larger cultural group. Across the whole spectrum, looks can range from being composed entirely from designer wares to completely DIY. In some subcultural groups, the DIY element is highly valued and carries significant social capital.
Street fashion has become popularised in recent years through documentation of looks on blogs and social media accounts dedicated to the purpose, some of which have gone on to be published in print form. Examples of this include FRUiTS by Shoichi Aoki, Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen and The Sartorialist by Scott Schuman. These lend credence to an understanding of street fashion as influenced by the cultural local to given place or social grouping, as well as being an avenue for imaginative personal expression.