In December last year, Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton and OFF-WHITE founder prophesied the impending death of the style he helped popularize. Encapsulating everything from (non-designer) graphic tees to basketball shorts to denim (from certain brands) it’s fair to say that the rumours of streetwear succumbing to its deathbed have been greatly exaggerated. Think Supreme, the founding father of streetwear, since its start-up in the 1990s the New York based label has become more than its box logo t-shirts and hoodies. Similarly, other leading giants like A Bathing Ape and The North Face have been blurring the lines between style and function for as long as we can remember, paving the way towards what we see in the streetwear industry now. Today, streetwear is still thriving; exclusive collaborations between various labels still remain the key talking points in the industry.
Shop // A Bathing Ape
Like most of the Japanese streetwear icons, BAPE’s roots can be traced back to the ura-Harajuku scene of the early ’90s. Most of today’s heavyweights — Shin Takazawa of Neighborhood, Tetsu Nishiyama, Hiroshi Fujiwara, Sk8thing— were actually a group of friends in the same scene, each helping each other out along the way. Established in 1993, the labels founder, Nigo, is a well known fan of 20th century pop culture, and channelled his love for the 1968 film, Planet of the Apes, in the name and the iconic BAPE logo, as well as referring to the Japanese idiom ‘A bathing ape in lukewarm water.’ The expression is used to describe somebody who overindulges, like lying in a bath until the water isn’t even hot anymore, so was an almost satirical reference to the same hype-driven market that would later become the brands’ key demographic.
The ’90s to early ’00s are generally cited as the golden era of BAPE, with product rapidly selling out in Japan with big names like, The Notorious B.I.G. and Pharrell Williams bringing the brand to the forefront of popular culture. In 2005 and 2006, BAPE’s first overseas flagship stores were opened in New York and Los Angeles. Media mogul Kanye West also designed his own pair of the brand’s coveted Bapesta sneaker. Fast-forward to today and the BAPE labels stands along highly anticipated brands like Supreme, the BAPE Shark hoodie is probably one of the most iconic garments and becoming one of the brands key pieces. Over the years BAPE have released their own-brand fishing gear, transformers dolls, condoms and even toilet roll.
Shop // Acne Studios
Founded in 1996 by Jonny Johansson as part of the creative collective ACNE, Acne Studios is a fashion house known for its ready-to-wear lines, footwear collections, accessories and denim. The Swedish based brand aims to produce quality clothing that is timeless with a focus on environmental strategy. In 1997, Johansson, first created 100 pairs of jeans with red stitching for family and friends. They became very popular and covetable, resulting in Wallpaper Magazine and Vogue Paris picking up on this, urging ACNE to create more apparel and expand beyond denim. Acne Studios has become a staple in many streetwear brand rosters all across the world.
Shop // Carhartt WIP
Founded in Michigan in the late 19th century, Carhartt focused mainly on clothing production for manual labourers and blue collar workers. With its distinct American heritage in-tact the brand expanded overseas in the 90s, bringing selected versions of original garments tailored specifically for a European market, offering a tailored refining of classics such as slim-fit trousers, overalls and hoodies coming as part of the brands European based WIP (Work in Progress) subsidiary. Carhartt now boast stores all over the world in the likes of Paris, London, New York, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. It’s blurring between work-wear and streetwear is what makes Carhartt WIP, so arguably, appealing.
Shop // adidas
One of the original streetwear brands of the 1980s, the trefoil logo of the 3 stripes brand could easily be considered the crown of street culture. Originally started by the Dassler brothers, it was Adi Dassler that took the German sportswear brand to new levels introducing OG trainer classics like the Samba & the Gazelle as well as classic sportswear with their iconic 3 stripes tracksuits. 80s B-boy culture in New York was all about wearing full adidas tracksuits, a connection that would eventually lead to collaborations with the likes of Stormzy, Rita Ora, Pharrell Williams & Snoop Dog. adidas continues to set the benchmark for performance and function utilising updated archive silhouettes and the latest garment technology into their collections.
Shop // Stone Island
Stone Island has become something of a cult label in Europe. With its distinct ‘compass’ logo, the Italy-based-brand has been embraced by a huge range of subcultures around the globe. The Italian technical brand is part of Carlo Rivetti’s Sportswear Company, who has been the labels’ president and creative director since 2008. Despite its associations with casual subculture and football hooliganism, Stone Island has continued to manufacture high-quality, technologically advanced gear. In more recent years Stone Island has diversified, with more of a streetwear appeal, thanks to the likes of Drake and their ongoing Supreme New York collaboration.
Shop // The North Face
Founded by husband and wife Douglas and Susie Tompkins in 1966, acquired by Kenneth Klopp two years later and ultimately taken over by the VF Corporation in 2000, The North Face has specialized in technical mountaineering equipment and apparel. By the 1990s, the brand had expanded to a much more diverse audience, including The Wu Tang Clan and other artists of the same genre. More recently we have seen the brand explore a more urban aesthetic, blurring the lines between mountaineering and the streets. The North Face continues to be a ‘go to’ brand on the streets for those with a penchant for technical outdoors gear that simply looks good.
Shop // Nike
2020 has been a good year for sportswear label Nike. Earlier this month the brand teamed up with US based streetwear label, Stüssy. Marking over ten years of partnership, the ready-to-wear collection, skilfully combines the natural and technical into a casual spin on American sportswear silhouettes with co-branded sweat suits, jacquard long sleeves. Perhaps its most exciting piece is the, ‘Nike Air Zoom Spiridon Cage 2’. First appeared in the early 2000s as a running silhouette, and is now acting as a lifestyle model offering revitalised retro styling’s. Stussy blends in its laid-back streetwear mood in the form of typeface logos on the tongue and heel.
Shop // Stussy
Founded by Shawn Stussy in 1984, Stüssy is widely known as one of the OG 90s streetwear brands on the market today. With many of the labels collections’ using the iconic signature script, the US based brand has embraced surf culture to move onto catering for a global audience of skaters and streetwear fans alike. Shaun Stussy grew up in Southern California and spent most of his time crafting surfboards at the age of 13. After being hired by a surfboard manufacturer, Stussy explored the subculture, scrawling across boards and setting up shop in Laguna Beach. Transfer this signature to t-shirts and sweaters; you have the iconic Stussy clothing draped on the backs of the surfer community. Since then the brand has moved forward to cater to a larger audience, its basics remain the same, with its most recent collection featuring tracksuits, trainers and everything else in between.
Shop // Heron Preston
From the creative brains of Heron Preston Johnson, Heron Preston has pioneered the premium streetwear aestheitc with big logos, colourful graphics and clear 90s streetwear influences. In 2018, Preston collaborated with NASA in 2018 for their 60th anniversary with the drop becoming one of the most hyped and talked about of the year. Preston has previously worked with the likes of OFF-WHITE’s Virgil Abloh and Justin Saunders, with his latest collection featuring his signature Cyrillic text and graffiti paint effect graphics.
Shop // Palm Angels
Palm Angels is a premium streetwear label that was founded in Milan in 2015 by the Italian designer, Francesco Ragazzi. Ragazzi has also headed up creative roles at Moncler with the brand drawing inspiration from West Coast Los Angeles and its skate scene. LA inspired streetwear with a premium Italian edge gives Palm Angels it’s own unique style which offers everything from ‘out there’ tracksuits to colourful bowling shirts. Over the last few years, the Milan based streetwear brand has also collaborated with the likes of Under Amour & Moncler Genius.