Streetwear is evolving. Skater and punk styles stand alongside classic hip-hop and active wear. Hoodies, blue jeans, and deck shoes have all moved under one umbrella. To top it off, haute couture has brought all of it to the runway.
Navigating such a diverse style can be confusing, but brand mainstays and holy grails can keep you grounded. Even though modern streetwear covers a broad range, you can still find a sense of individuality and self-expression. Each cutting-edge label listed below pushes unique designs alongside genre staples. You’re sure to find a few brands that will make an impression on you.
Label founder Shawn Stussy is a man who never wanted his brand pinned down. His bold signature on classic graphic tees defined a generation of surfwear. Even though the Orange County native was a surfer by trade, Stüssy soon caught on with hip-hop, skate, and punk crowds.
Today, Stüssy is a streetwear powerhouse with broad appeal. Throwback ‘80s hoodies can be found alongside color block polos and bold-patterned shorts. The label has fully embraced genre-bending trends that are changing the scene as you know it. Because of that, Stüssy is able to incorporate something for everyone in their lines.
No streetwear guide can be complete without mentioning the behemoth label, Supreme. They took the traditional fashion business model and turned it on its head. Products drop in bursts with extremely limited supply. If you look up “hypebeast”, you’ll find Supreme there, too.
The ubiquitous contrast hoodie might give the impression that Supreme only leans hip-hop, but don’t be fooled. The brand explores high and low brow approaches for artistic inspiration. Bold colors, unconventional materials, and odd patterns are found in each seasonal line. They sell out in minutes for a reason. Supreme was the name that sparked a reselling culture—for better or worse. Ignoring their work is like ignoring a titan on your doorstep.
Streetwear may have been born in America, but it found an audience in Japan. Designer Nigo started A Bathing Ape (BAPE) in the ‘90s Ura-Harajuku scene. The label is famous for its brightly-colored camouflage patterns and zip-up shark hoodies. If you want clever designs and strange motifs, BAPE is the brand for you. They are known for uncommon collaborations with brands like Spongebob Squarepants, Marvel, Coca-Cola, and Hello Kitty.
The company also started BAPE Kids if you want your little one to look as good as you. These days, BAPE still finds new ways to innovate their iconic camo prints. They apply their bright color palette to hoodies, shirts, pants, and dresses.
Virgil Abloh is a madman. Despite managing Louis Vuitton’s massive menswear department, he still finds time to drop fascinating designs through his own label, Off-White.
Abloh interned at Fendi with Kanye West and branched out in 2012 to start “PYREX VISION” in Milan. He soon changed the name to Off-White. The label has been a frequent collaborator with Nike, Levi, and Jimmy Choo, as well as IKEA, A$AP Rocky, and Heron Preston. Abloh injects dry humor into his designs. Many pieces are impractical or “unfinished”. They’re over-the-top, satirical, and enormously fun.
No streetwear list is proper without mentioning the UK’s skate scene. Palace is the perfect place to start. It’s a young label, not even ten years old, but it’s made incredible waves over the past decade to rival Supreme in the West.
Palace frequently collaborates with athletic brands Nike and Adidas while staying true to its skate roots. You can find bold color blocks, modern art-inspired patterns, and the occasional penny loafer thrown into its lineups.
Le Fruit Défendu
If you want innovative designs that still pay homage to the classics, Le Fruit Défendu will pique your interest. Founder Serena Yang started out at Kyoto University and put her brand’s roots down in New York City.
Le Fruit Défendu is an up-and-coming label with novel ideas that push the boundaries of streetwear. Each item is made-to-order and only sold once. Inspirations vary widely from ‘90s American grunge to the ‘80s hip-hop scene and more. Emphasis is placed on unisex designs with androgynous silhouettes.
Most Americans in 1989 knew Carhartt as a plain, rugged workwear brand. Imagine their shock when the company started up Carhartt Work in Progress (WIP), a streetwear brand geared for the UK music and skate scenes.
The company kept its eye for quality while moving in a more contemporary direction. Now, it’s one of the most well-respected streetwear brands in the world.
With so many options to choose from, finding the right streetwear brand can be daunting. The scene is changing, yes, but it’s broadening even faster. What was once the style of countercultures all over the world now encompasses massive brand names and diverse styles. If you choose from these brands, you can’t go wrong. Find what speaks to you.