We take our brick and mortar streetwear stores for granted today. In an age where hundreds of online retailers exist, customers seldomly visit an actual shop. Instead, they discover new brands on Instagram and purchase by hitting a checkout button on an e-commerce platform. Streetwear is mainstream, and its sense of community and culture is harder to find at a local shop.
But long before teenagers began buying Supreme off resale sites like StockX and Grailed, there were local establishments responsible for introducing streetwear to certain regions, before the term streetwear even existed. Places like Walter’s in Atlanta, which has been open since 1952 and serviced rappers and locals with fly sneakers and Adidas tracksuits, or Universal Madness in Washington, D.C., which was one of the first black-owned urbanwear brands and boutiques.
And then smaller brands like Fuct, Pervert, Triple 5 Soul, and X-Large emerged, but you couldn’t get them at Macy’s, so you’d have to shop stores like Union in New York City, Animal Farm in Miami, and Behind The Post Office in San Diego.
Post the ‘90s, the streetwear movement only became bigger with stores like Ubiq in Philadelphia, Brooklyn Projects in Los Angeles, and The Tipping Point in Houston. Some of these stores are still open, others have closed, but they all helped streetwear become what it is today.
Complex identified the pioneering streetwear stores in the U.S., and spoke to the founders about their influence on the market.