Popularized in California in the 1990s, “streetwear” was born from surf and skate culture, encompassing elements of sportswear and hip-hop to create an urban-casual style. This branch of fashion continues to thrive and evolve—big-name brands regularly put out streetwear items each season as a part of their larger collections and certain smaller brands cater particularly to this style. One such brand is Los Angeles-based Helena Legend.
“I’m not sure what drew me to streetwear, it’s just been my style for as long as I can remember. At school, I was in oversized Adidas jumpers, Doc Martens and track pants, and that’s continued right through to this day,” says brand founder Helena Legend. “I was never a girly girl but I’ve always loved fashion, style and comfort which has taken me to the luxe streetwear market. Here, I’ve really found my place combining street with chic, which has been the focus of my label.”
This combination of “street and chic,” as Legend puts it, is immediately apparent upon viewing her collection. The brand primarily features tracksuits—complete with pants, a top, and a jacket—but they don’t resemble the typical cotton or polyester outfits found at other labels. The Helena Legend tracksuits are made using an iridescent fabric, giving them a metallic shine that exudes luxury.
“A lot of the time, fabric is my main inspiration during the design process,” Legend explains. “I’ll see a great fabric and the design comes to me as I can picture what it would look like. Other times, I get an idea of a design and sit on it, then when I find a fabric which I think it will work with, I can bring the idea to life.”
HELENA LEGEND produces tracksuits unlike many other brands, particularly because of its mission to, first and foremost, provide women with chic streetwear outfits, a sector of fashion that often caters predominantly to men. While, since her company’s inception, Legend has since embarked into the realm of menswear, her label is very female-focused—the designer explains that her latest collection “is just aimed at women, purely from a design aspect.”
Launching a brand as a woman in a male-dominant sect of fashion isn’t an easy feat. But Legend is no stranger to the obstacles that come with working toward a passion when the odds are stacked against you. Prior to her career in fashion, the designer pursued her love of music as a DJ, where she was tasked with self-starting her own career and making a name for herself, just as she had to do with her clothing line.
“I have hit many obstacles so far, as I’ve been learning as I go. I got screwed over badly by my first production house I started working with—they really messed me around,” Legend says. “I have since had a lot of other issues working with various people. For my last collection I gave my cutters a list of all the sizing and color ways to cut. They ignored it and cut everything in the wrong size and color specs, then told me I had no fabric left when I gave them more than what was needed. I was devastated. Things like that have cost me a lot of money, so there’s a bit learning curve. Finding a great team you can trust and rely on is the hardest part of building any business.”
Obstacles or not, Legend has persevered through it all with determination and a clear vision for her future.
“Whether it’s music or fashion, neither is an easy ride. There’s fierce competition in both sectors, male and female,” she says. “You have to work very hard in both and find your edge, what makes you different from everyone else…but I love it and I’m very passionate about what I’m doing, so it’s all worth it.”
There’s no end in sight for the streetwear brand, which has just launched a new collection, LEGENDSS19. The collection continues to capture Legend’s longtime love of luxury and comfort and passion for the streetwear style, passion being an element the designer declares is the key to a successful business.
“People buy into the brand more than they do the clothes these days,” Legend says. “Your why is just as important as your what.”