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Streetwear is a funny word. Most of us – even fashion experts – have trouble defining the catch-all term that includes everything from retro Nikes to Supreme box tees to Carhartt work pants. But we do know that streetwear (whatever that means) is currently the biggest movement in fashion. And it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
Part of the reason for streetwear’s fluid definition is the massive changes it’s undergone over the years. Most fashionistas would identify the beginning of streetwear with the rise of hip-hop in mainstream culture (so, somewhere in the late eighties and early nineties). The two movements seem to have grown in unison, with streetwear both informing and emerging from rap culture. And, like hip-hop, streetwear has quickly gone from fringe to mainstream with designers now producing bold logo tees, grail-worthy sneakers and athletic-inspired statement pieces.
In other words, streetwear is now a wide-ranging, long-standing behemoth of a trend. And it isn’t just for rappers and skaters. Whether you’re a dad, a college kid or Travis Scott, you can use streetwear pieces to be more stylish.
What Are the Best Streetwear Brands?
Although streetwear can be tricky to define, there are a few brands that constitute undisputed forces behind the megatrend. Check out the best streetwear brands below for some fresh new additions to your wardrobe.
With all the hype, resale prices and overall fame of Supreme, it can be easy to forget that Supreme’s pieces are just cool. The New York City brand has been around since 1994, dropping some of, if not the most sought-after pieces in streetwear history. By ditching the ordinary supply-and-demand model, Supreme allowed the resale market to dictate prices. This lead Supreme to join the ranks of Rolex and Luis Vuitton in terms of desirability, and even collaborate with both of those brands (among many others).
Palace’s combination of elevated skater style, UK streetwear and a sense of humor has yielded some of the coolest skate clothing to date. Some equate Palace as the UK’s answer to Supreme, but, at the moment, Palace is easier to get your hands on and a bit less talked-about than Supreme (maybe for the better).
Aesthetically, Palace is instantly recognizable thanks to its tri-ferg logo, sporty basics and bold statement pieces. We like the brand because you can go low-key with something like a logo sweatshirt (pictured below), or you can go big with, say, a Gore-Tex x Palace rain jacket.
Virgil Abloh’s groundbreaking brand, Off-White, is a perfect example of streetwear’s manifestation as designer clothing. Abloh launched Off-White back in 2013 after being creative director to Kanye West, and quickly gave the high-fashion world the streetwear that it needed. But Off-White didn’t just join the world of designer clothing – it redefined it. Abloh and his team re-imagined high-fashion with hoodies, Nike collaborations and design elements such as ironic, parenthesized labels and bold prints. Even though Louis Vuitton tapped Abloh as their menswear creative director back in 2018, he’s been maintaining Off-White with some craze-worthy pieces including sneakers, accessories and tees.
Integrating streetwear into an everyday style used to be tricky for anyone over 25. That is until Noah hit the scene (or really until their comeback in 2015). Founded by ex-Supreme creative director Brendon Babenzien, Noah successfully worked streetstyle aesthetic into clothing for grown-ups. This takes the form of throwback button-ups, pleated chinos, and subtle tees. Noah’s pieces are the type of thing to earn just as much approval in the office as at the skatepark, making it a true unicorn of a brand.
Some of the biggest names in streetwear weren’t actually created as streetwear brands. A few brands, such as Carhartt, have been adopted by streetwear culture for their authenticity and previously untapped style potential.
Carhartt has deftly adapted to its new personality as a streetwear label with the launch of Carhartt WIP. While their classics (I.e. work pants and Carhartt logo beanies) are still staples of streetwear, the WIP label is much more wearable for non-construction workers. Carhartt WIP has taken inspiration from skate style – without losing the workwear character – to release great pieces like this refined work jacket or this baseball cap.
A Bathing Ape (or BAPE, for short) is one of the longest-standing names in hip-hop fashion. The brand got constant shoutouts in the 2000s from early-days Lil’ Wayne, Pharrell and Clipse, and still gets nods from the likes of Future, Drake and 21 Savage.
Hailing from Tokyo in 1993, BAPE has made a name for itself with bright, bold toy-inspired graphics and off-beat designs (epitomized by their face-covering shark hoodies). Their Bapesta Air Force 1s remain some of the most coveted sneakers in the world, but the Japanese brand also produces some new stuff that modernizes the wonderfully loud character that made BAPE famous. For some statement pieces, check out this disco shirt, or a pink camo tee.
7. Aimé Leon Dore
Another brand that nails grown-up streetwear is Aimé Leon Dore. Although the pieces are minimal and modern, the brand takes inspiration from all over the place: nineties hip-hop, sportswear and vintage prep all show through in the brand’s collections. Think of the perfect thrift-shop find, only cleaner and better-made, and you’ve got Aimé Leon Dore.
In terms of actual build quality and materials, Aimé Leon Dore does very well. This feel – plus versatile, no-frills designs – means you’ll end up wearing Aimé Leon Dore all the time. Pieces from the New York brand can be hard to come by, but we were able to score some great pieces on Mr. Porter, including this striped sweater and this puffer jacket.
Stüssy defined streetwear as we know it. The brand started in 1980 in Laguna Beach, California, out of Shawn Stussy’s car, and catered to Shawn’s surf buddies (back when surf style wasn’t much of a thing). The brand has since become a go-to not only for surfers but for skaters, hip-hop artists and normal stylish people alike. Despite its age and large-scale distribution, the brand is as cool as ever. In their recent collections, you’ll find things like surf-staple tees, bold Nike x Stüssy puffer pants and skate-inspired jackets.
Streetwear has birthed countless new brands, but it has also breathed new life into sportswear giants such as Nike. But Nike has set itself apart through the streetstyle boom with the most hyped releases and collabs, teaming up with top-tier brands including Off-White, BAPE and Supreme, as well as artists like Kanye West, Drake and Tom Sachs.
Most of Nike’s offerings are loved by streetwear aficionados, but Nike sneakers are the true royalty of streetstyle – so much so that the coolest releases get scooped up and listed for higher prices on resale sites like eBay. This year we’re all trying to get our hands on some new SB Dunks and, as usual, some Nike x Off-White Jordans.
10. Heron Preston
Heron Preston (the man) is a silent force in the world of streetwear and hip-hop with sought-after clothing drops, DJing stints at events including Coachella, and mixtapes with Beyoncé. His self-titled label represents the conversion of his multiplicitous career, combining fine art, hip-hop and high fashion. Some liken Heron Preston (the label) to Off-White, but the former has a distinct, workwear-inspired look of its own. They’ve got some great tees, as well as quirky, statement jeans.