In the explorative streetwear documentary Built to Fail, Russel Simmons defines this term–streetwear–as something which young innovative people wear (and by extension make and do) in order to break the mould.
Streetwear (and art) can thus be seen as the physical manifestation of a particular cultural phenomena which seeks to locate and then transform the mainstream ideologically stylistically. Streetwear becomes the symbolic representation that defines a particular epoch in urban culture. As the old becomes #vintage, we can look to past counter-culture movements in order to gain inspiration for the next stylistic pattern in culture. Whether you are inspired by hip hop, punk, or club kids, NBGA’s got you covered with 5 of our must watch streetwear/urban culture documentaries from the late 90’s and early 00’s–one of the most casually stylish eras of them all.
Sacha Jenkins’ Fresh Dressed (2015)
Expounding upon the history of Hip-Hop and urban fashion cultivated in New York in the 1970’s, Fresh Dressed is the Streetwear documentary to see. Detailing fashion from the Bronx to corporate America , this documentary has a rich array of footage you can’t look away from. With in-depth interviews from A$AP Rocky, Pharrell Williams, Karl Kani and more, explores the roots of streetwear in NY, tracing its evolution to the cultural conglomerate as we know it today. Detailing struggle, survival, and style icons, this is the must watch documentary on the genesis of streetwear and culture.
Lorna Tucker’s Westwood: Punk, Activist, Icon (2016)
Providing a counter-culture to the baby-boomer ideals of peace and love, Westwood: Punk, Activist, Icon traces the woman behind the movement, punk-rock royalty Vivienne Westwood. From her genesis with Malcolm McLaren and their iconic King’s Road Shop Sex, to her legacy today, this documentary unveils the lesser known facets of the iconic fashion designer. Merging her art and activism in one, it propels priceless insight into the punk movement that defined Gen X– culturally, politically, and importantly – stylistically. With interviews from Kate Moss, Pamela Anderson, and Christina Hendricks, this documentary is not to be missed. Urging young people to change the world, Westwood’s sentiments of resistance and revolution are now, as she illuminates, more relevant than ever.
Fenton Bailey’s Party Monster: The Shockumentary (1998)
At one stage or another we’ve all had the dream to move to Berlin, live in a squat, and become a club kid. But in the late 1980’s, this lifestyle was anything but glamorous or mainstream. A counter-part to Paris Is Burning, Party Monster: The Shockumentary explores the club scene that begun in the late eighties through to the late nineties, propelled by their controversial icon, leader, and then criminal – the one and only Michael Ali G. What began as a burgeoning basement of outsiders and rebels, a place where people of all genders, sexualities, and races could come together for a good time, ended with the murder of fellow club kid Angel Melendez by Ali G. Aptly titled a Shockumentary, this documentary does just that, providing both #Looks and a cautionary tale in one.
Andrew Morgan’s The True Cost (2015)
Whilst we undoubtedly look to influencers, film, and models to get our next style inspiration, it is equally important to recognise the toll this has had on us, as a society. Not merely from an aesthetic or stylistic point of few, but importantly – an economic and political one, too. Delving into the intricacies of fast fashion and sweat-shop labour, The True Cost expounds upon the conditions in which high fashion is created (that is, low everything else). Propelling insight into the gruelling result of accelerated capitalism and endless demand take, on those least responsible. Raw, honest, but above all inspiring – this doco encourages us all to have introspection towards the way in which we consume. Reminding us all to not just think, but actively do and be better. To summarise it in one word: powerful.
Banksy’s Exit Through The Gift Shop (2010)
Whilst urban culture is expounded upon stylistically via streetwear, it is also equally shaped by the street-art/graffiti movement, which has gained traction in recent years. Partly an intimate look into the process of street art, partly a not-u-mentary, street art icon Banksy’s Exit Through The Gift Shop takes a DIY approach to documenting graffiti artist Thierry Guetta. A look into both street art and culture, allegedly both Banksy himself and Shepard Fairley are interviewed. Detailing running from and being caught by cops, the intricacies of stencilling, and the political connotations of the movement – this documentary is a must see.