Traditionally, the industry of streetwear fashion has been dominated by and almost exclusively catered to men. A trend adopted by the cultures of skate, hip-hop, and many others, streetwear began making appearances in the mainstream starting in the 1980s. The boom of this trend would come in the following decades, and now, brands like Supreme, Stussy, and Off-White are multi-million-dollar companies all with men calling the shots. Over the last 10 years, however, the tides have begun to shift with brands like TAKEON, headed by burgeoning streetwear guru Chelsea Ma.
“I noticed that there were things missing,” Ma shared in a 2020 interview with Variety. She continued, “All the streetwear brands that I was looking at were run by men, for men. Women just had to adapt.” With a majority, if not all, streetwear clothing being catered to a male audience, those who identified differently from the male gender and did not fit the targeted body type were forced to find different ways to make the clothing work for them. With a personal sense of style that favored streetwear design, Ma decided to make the decision to throw the streetwear norms into disarray when she found TAKEON in 2018 with fellow streetwear enthusiast, Jessica Zhou.
As streetwear has seen tremendous growth in sales and recognition in mainstream media through recent years, Chelsea Ma shared that her mission for TAKEON is to “continue to build a community around women in streetwear and really bridge the streetwear and womenswear community together”. Rather than focusing only on female-oriented designs, Ma is using TAKEON to create entire lines of clothing with unisex appeal and functionality.
Chelsea Ma isn’t the only streetwear designer helping to usher in a new era in clothing, there are many others making the world of streetwear a more welcoming place for all genders. Recently, Kanye West called upon British-Nigerian designer Mowalola Ogunlesiesi to take the lead shot-calling role for his Yeezy Gap. Other stunning examples include Melody Ehsani, who is the Iranian designer that recently made headlines as the first woman to design a pair of Jordon sneakers, and Sofia Prantera, who co-founded the cult-favorite streetwear brand, Aries.
A long-overdue change is fast approaching the streetwear world, and this small list of female pioneers barely scrape the top of the barrel that is female streetwear designers. The new normal has begun the shift towards personality and statement-making, not gender.