How Luxury Streetwear Shaped Calabasas | Style Out There | Refinery29
I might wear this hat. I’m having a really bad hair day, so I might wear this out. What? You’re having a bad hair day? Yeah. It’s been three days since I got a blowout, so. Sweatpants used to be the clothes you wore when no one was looking. So, how have they become the clothes you wear when you want to stand out? 6 a.m. October 8th. Hypebeasts across the country from LA to New York are lining up for one thing: Yeezy’s Calabasas Track Pants. It’s the latest collab between Kanye West and Adidas. The last drop sold out in minutes. Alright, everybody’s entitled to one pair. I wanted to know why, and if any of these superfans even know what Calabasas is. I know that all the famous people live there, all the rich people. Just a laid-back island, just chillin’. I don’t know. Luis knows more. If you have heard of Calabasas, it’s probably because of its most famous residents. If you haven’t, you should know that it is not an island. It is a suburb, 30 miles outside of Los Angeles. Damn! Damn! So how did Hip-Hop and streetwear become associated with Calabasas? If there is one person in this line who can help me understand the obsession, it’s this guy. Meet Adam. A streetwear collector, Kanye’s number one fan, and a Calabasas native. So Calabasas is every other suburb that you’ve ever been in in America. It is full of strip malls and banks and parking lots— very, very nice ones, don’t get me wrong, but I’m actually a little bit underwhelmed. This is not really what I was expecting, tbh. Maybe I just need a little insider insight. This is awesome. You are officially on the Calabasas gated community tour. I’ve lived here now for almost 29 years. These are the streets that made me, me. Adam has seen Calabasas change from a conventional suburb to a celebrity haven. This is like a casino entrance. Yeah. With neighborhoods so exclusive, they’re not exactly camera-friendly. Just so you know. So we have now entered Hidden Hills. And I know Hidden Hills. Yes you do. Why do I know Hidden Hills? Well, you might have seen it while you were watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians. There’s a little-known artist named Drake who lives in here. I think I’ve heard of him too. But it’s not just the Kardashians and Drake. It’s like…everyone. Justin Bieber, the Weeknd, bench players for the Lakers. If you live here, you’ve made it. Is it a more diverse group of people who are moving in, or is it more of the same? No! It is. I mean, it was definitely a very predominantly white community very early on. Over time, it’s become a lot more diverse and I love it. Adam feels Calabasas has gotten more diverse. And it has…by two percent. But it’s still less diverse than Beverly Hills. The only thing that’s changed is the perception of Calabasas. If you google “Calabasas style,” this is what you get which is not exactly cool. So how did we come to associate Calabasas with a style that looks like this? I’m hoping these girls can explain this disconnect. I did not grow up in this lifestyle, you know, the big houses, the fancy cars, trying to keep up with the people around me. I think it’s pretty good for me, actually. Bella is a force. She moved here three years ago when her mom got a job as a producer on— you guessed it, Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Bella works hard to maintain a luxury lifestyle. You’re gonna be all set. Unlike most of her friends, she has a job as a rep for a beauty and skincare line. She started styling and hopes to turn it into a full-time career. And oh yeah, and she’s still in high school. And you can wear this with anything. You can dress it up, you can dress it down. And have you always dressed in this kind of way, where it’s like— I mean, I always have. I remember I showed up to picture day in black sweatpants and a band t-shirt in fourth grade and everyone was like, “What’s wrong with you?” But if I did that now, it would be a really cute outfit. Yeah. It doesn’t feel Californian to me though. No, it’s not. But where did it come from? Did you just like it or were you reading magazines? I really liked it. I also walk around, just downtown in Washington Heights. My mom, especially when she was young, you find pictures of her in cutoff shorts and little crop tops. I was like, “Oh my god. That’s so cute!” Bella’s streetwear style actually comes from the streets: from her roots in New York. Her best friend Amanda’s style comes from Instagram. A lot of my style inspiration comes from a lot of the celebrities. I saw celebrities wearing it all over social media. Social media’s a big part of my life. Even though Amanda has lived in Calabasas most of her life, like Bella, she felt like an outsider. Growing up here, it’s kind of been difficult. I was the only African American in my kindergarten class. Kids were bullying me because I was different. But the perception of Calabasas is changing and so is Amanda’s place in it. She is now an insider with over 23,000 followers on Instagram. A few of my best friends, we’re bringing the street style to Calabasas. And then can I get the mango banana pineapple smoothie? Don’t you find it weird that Calabasas style— it’s streetwear too but this place doesn’t feel all that street to me. No, no it is not. Well how do you think that happened? A lot of the celebrities, I feel like, whether it’s Kylie Jenner or I don’t know… I feel like, yes, a lot of the girls in Calabasas look up to Kylie Jenner but that doesn’t make…that doesn’t mean all of us look up to Kylie Jenner to dress. Yeah. So a lot of the streetwear and the style that Calabasas is known for comes from black culture but you grew up predominantly surrounded by white people. How do you make sense of that? I think that a lot of the controversy comes from culture appropriation. It’s just like — Kylie Jenner’s going to wear a do-rag and it’s cool now but if I wear a do-rag it’s gonna be ghetto. The girls bring up an interesting point: the roots of this style are not in Hidden Hills, and we shouldn’t ignore that. The style has been imported by Kanye West and people like him and then adopted by his neighbors. Okay! We’re gonna get you into some street chic fashion, okay? I decided in order to truly understand Calabasas style, I had to walk a mile in see-thru shoes, courtesy of Ramee Randall, a celebrity stylist who’s worked with hip hop greats including Tyga, J.Lo, and Diddy. She puts together their outfits for major fashion moments like music videos and red carpets. When we think of streetwear, I don’t go to Calabasas. You know what I mean? Calabasas is new money but they’re actually getting their visuals from the hood. Do this dress. That’s cute. This is cute, right? But then we’ll make it street, throwing this on top. Super cute, super chic, super now. Watching Ramee pull pieces, I’m starting to get it. The Calabasas look is 90s hip hop: sexy but comfortable and full of hidden symbols that nod to how expensive or relevant the look actually is. There’s a lot of fabric. And yet I feel like I need more fabric. No! You don’t. You won’t. This is about comfort, style, and fit. I trust you. I trust you. I’m so scared. As I throw on this fur hoodie, I see that the style is a lot more calculated than I thought. Each element of this outfit feels new, but it comes from a throwback reference. But that reference seems to be getting lost through an Instagram filter. It’s not a re-invention just because you throw on a Manolo with an Adidas track suit does not mean you have created a new style that is direct descent from Calabasas. Do you think that people in Calabasas are doing it the most visibly? Visible is only based on where the cameras are. It is definitely, always, always, always from the street. Okay so Calabasas did not invent streetwear but maybe by being in the spotlight, Calabasas has recontextualized what it means and who wears it. Kanye has branded that cultural shift and is capitalizing on it. But he’s not the only one. It started as an inside joke between me and my friend group. One rapper that we really love who had merchandise that was Bompton and it was all based on super hood gang culture. It was just a little bit of satire. Good to see you again. Well, did it really start picking up after Kanye released his Calabasas Adidas line? Yeah. I mean, Calabasas kind of came onto the map because of that. Mhmm. Are you kind of riding the wave? That’s right. Yeah. Some people might say that you don’t have to carry that burden of growing up in a violent, dangerous community. Did you get any sort of criticism? I’ve had people comment to me that they think it might be in bad taste me calling it Balabasas and appropriating gang culture. To me, it’s obviously the irony, the satire of it. I think a lot of fashion is irony. Those within Calabasas are redefining what luxury means. Luxury is no longer just about a price tag and looking like all you do is party. Now it’s about appearing like you have the means to access exclusive items, the time for self-care and indulgence, and the flexibility to look like you don’t need a 9 to 5 job. People want to dress like you. People want to live here. People are looking to Calabasas as a sort of epicenter of style right now. Do you feel it? No. The second that I graduate high school, I want to move. I think if you spend your whole life here, you’re not really gonna have a real grasp on reality. I think for me, it’s just being independent and making boss moves, just like my dad. By the way, her dad is Snoop Dogg. For the girls, it seems that Calabasas is not a final destination. It’s a launch pad to set them up for a life they really want. No matter where you’re from, a city, a suburb, we all have aspirations. But, we also want to be comfortable in our own skin. That’s what Calabasas style is. I would get teased because I love hoop earrings. And now I wear my hoops every single day. I love them and they’re part of who I am. Maybe it’s not fair to call this Calabasas style, but I think the reason the look resonates here is because Calabasas is aspirational. After all, what are Kanye and Kim if not the embodiment of the American Dream? If you were to ask me, “Is Calabasas as cool as Kanye says it is?” To me, I would say yes. Maybe you have this preconceived notion of what Calabasas is, but at the end of the day Calabasas is a mindset.