For every trend that trickles into a collection, there’s a source of inspiration. Some designers can cite a trip to Paris or a desire to reenvision ’90s sensibilities. But there’s always one underlying influence that hasn’t always gotten the respect it deserves: streetwear. Long before everyone was wearing leggings or wondering what sneaker trends were bound to blow up, a set of trendsetters were championing streetwear. Of course, it should be noted that streetwear’s ascension to the mainstream can be equally traced back to Black stylists, Black designers, and Black artists who, from the ’90s to the aughts, set the stage for athleisure as we know it today.
Streetwear wouldn’t be what it is today without titans like the late Virgil Abloh—who fused high fashion and sportswear through his tenure as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection and founder of Off-White—and musicians like Lil Kim, who dared to don a tracksuit on the red carpet before every celebrity was spotted in Juicy Couture’s velour set. But the biggest influencers were multi-hyphenates like June Ambrose, who managed to meld music, fashion, and film through over 30 years of work. Ambrose is a legend in and of herself. She’s the costume designer behind iconic movies (like Belly) and music videos (like Missy Elliott’s “The Rain” and Beyoncé’s “Black Is King”). She was named Puma’s creative director in 2020 and has since helped launch the brand’s first-ever women’s basketball collection.
Basically, she’s one of the driving forces behind what streetwear is today, so naturally, we jumped at the opportunity to interview her. Ahead, you’ll hear from Ambrose about her career, her style, and the trends she’s backing for spring.