Streetwear has emerged as a dominant force in the fashion industry, with its roots deeply embedded in urban culture and lifestyle. While it originated from the streets and subcultures, streetwear has evolved into a prominent style that has influenced designers across the globe. We will explore some top designers who draw inspiration from streetwear and have significantly contributed to the genre.
A Bathing Ape (B.A.P.E.):
A Bathing Ape, commonly known as B.A.P.E., is a Japanese streetwear label that has become a global phenomenon since its founding in 1993 by Japanese designer Nigo. The brand’s name and logo are influenced by Nigo’s love for the 1968 film Planet of the Apes and a Japanese idiom, ‘A bathing ape in lukewarm water,’ which refers to an over-indulging individual. B.A.P.E. is known for its bold and eclectic take on streetwear, featuring vibrant designs, in-your-face graphics, and colorful prints.
One of B.A.P.E.’s most recognizable trademarks is its signature camouflage pattern, which has become synonymous with the brand. Another iconic design element is the shark hoodie, featuring a shark face graphic that zips over the wearer’s face. These distinctive features helped B.A.P.E. skyrocket in popularity, especially during the early 2000s when the brand gained attention through collaborations with artists like Pharrell Williams. Today, B.A.P.E. continues to captivate streetwear enthusiasts with its vividness and flashiness, while partnerships with other brands and artists such as Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, and Wiz Khalifa contribute to its ongoing success.
Off-White, founded by the late designer Virgil Abloh, has significantly impacted the fashion industry by seamlessly merging streetwear and luxury fashion. The Milan-based label has redefined traditional design norms with its progressive and futuristic designs marked by bold graphics, typography, and pop-culture references. Abloh initially made his foray into streetwear with his brand Pyrex Vision, which garnered attention for repurposing and reselling Ralph Lauren shirts. In 2013, Abloh launched Off-White, quickly gaining popularity for its creative and avant-garde approach to classic designs.
Off-White’s influence extends beyond its clothing and accessories. The brand’s frequent appearances at Paris Fashion Week and incorporating of streetwear aesthetics into workwear have solidified its reputation as a trailblazer. Additionally, Abloh’s role as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear division since 2018 has further propelled Off-White’s prominence in fashion. The brand’s collaborations with renowned labels like Nike, Levi’s, Moncler, and Jimmy Choo have resulted in iconic pieces such as the 200-centimeter-long yellow and black industrial belt, as well as products inscribed with the product type in quotation marks, adding a unique sense of exclusivity to Off-White’s offerings.
Heron Preston is a relatively new but influential luxury streetwear brand founded in 2016 by designer Heron Preston. Before launching his label, Preston made his mark in the streetwear scene as part of the fashion and music collective, Been Trill, alongside notable names such as Virgil Abloh and Matthew Williams. Drawing inspiration from border-pushing creativity and street aesthetics, Heron Preston’s brand quickly gained recognition for its unconventional designs, quirky cuts, and oversized fits.
One distinguishing feature of Heron Preston’s brand is its bright orange branding, which has become a signature element across its collections. The label’s aesthetic often combines hardware-like accent details with a fusion of pop culture, resulting in a unique and dynamic streetwear style. In addition to its fashion offerings, Heron Preston has collaborated with various entities, including the New York City Department of Sanitation, on a low-waste collection and partnerships with Mercedes Benz, NASA, Levi’s, and Calvin Klein. These collaborations further showcase the brand’s ability to merge streetwear with diverse industries and solidify its position as an innovative force in luxury streetwear.
Established in 1994 by James Jebbia, Supreme has become a legendary skate and clothing label that has left an indelible mark on the streetwear culture. What started as a small boutique store on Lafayette Street in Manhattan, embodying downtown and skate culture has evolved into a global phenomenon. Supreme’s apparel and accessory offerings resonated with a devoted fan base, capturing the essence of skaters, punks, and hip-hop enthusiasts alike.
Supreme’s influence reached new heights when it collaborated with luxury brand Louis Vuitton, bringing street style to the global fashion scene. This collaboration propelled streetwear into the realm of luxury fashion and solidified Supreme’s permanent place in the industry. Over the years, Supreme has continued to expand its community, collaborating with industry leaders such as Nike, The North Face, Undercover, KAWS, and Jean Paul Gaultier. The brand’s iconic red and white logo, unique box logo tees, and limited-edition drops have made Supreme a cultural phenomenon, embodying the spirit of exclusivity and street culture.
NEIGHBORHOOD is a Japanese streetwear brand founded in 1994 by Shinsuke Takizawa. Drawing inspiration from biker culture, American military aesthetics, and punk rock, the label has crafted a distinct and nuanced aesthetic that resonates with the Japanese streetwear scene. While initially relatively unknown outside Japan, NEIGHBORHOOD gradually gained Western recognition for its unconventional designs, high-quality craftsmanship, and attention to detail.
Its collaborations with leading brands helped NEIGHBORHOOD establish itself in the Western market. The label launched limited edition Adidas Originals Superstars in the early 2000s and partnered with streetwear pioneers Supreme in 2007. Despite staying true to its biker and punk rock essence, NEIGHBORHOOD has reinvented itself, incorporating emerging cultural moments and staying relevant in the ever-evolving streetwear landscape. With its commitment to authenticity and ability to seamlessly blend subculture references into its designs, NEIGHBORHOOD continues to captivate fashion enthusiasts and maintain its status as a prominent name in streetwear.
Ambush is a Tokyo-based luxury streetwear brand founded by Yoon Ahn and her husband Verbal in 2008. What began as a trustworthy jewelry brand quickly expanded into apparel, gaining fame for its oversized and attention-grabbing pieces inspired by pop art and classic Tokyo aesthetics. Ambush made its debut in the fashion world during the accessories’ 2015 Paris debut, where the brand introduced its first apparel collection as part of a complete look. This marked the beginning of Ambush’s rise to prominence in luxury streetwear.
Known for its edgy designs, dynamic use of colors, and statement-making denim and ready-to-wear pieces, Ambush has garnered a cult following among celebrities, including Rihanna, ASAP Rocky, and Lady Gaga, as well as prominent figures in the K-pop industry. These collaborations have solidified Ambush’s status as a significant player in the luxury streetwear scene, combining innovative and functional design with a rebellious and genre-bending aesthetic that resonates with fashion enthusiasts worldwide.
Undercover is a renowned and influential streetwear brand founded by Jun Takahashi in 1990. Inspired by the punk scenes of the U.K. and Tokyo’s underground ethos, Undercover has become synonymous with innovative design and avant-garde fashion. The label seamlessly blends streetwear elements with traditional design, creating unique and unconventional pieces that push boundaries and challenge the status quo.
Undercover gained global recognition after its “Scab” show at Paris Fashion Week in 2003, bringing the brand to luxury streetwear’s forefront. Collaborations with notable brands such as Nike, Supreme, and Off-White have further solidified Undercover’s success and established its position as a critical player in the fashion industry. Known for its edgy and bold designs, Undercover’s collections often feature deconstructed sweatsuits, unabashed use of colors and patterns, and a poetic vision that captures the imagination. With its constant reinvention and ability to fuse different elements of fashion, Undercover continues to captivate fashion enthusiasts and set trends in the ever-evolving landscape of streetwear.
A-COLD-WALL* is a luxury streetwear brand founded by designer Samuel Ross in 2015. Rooted in London’s street culture and influenced by the aesthetics of the working class, the brand brings together material innovation and industrial design to create a unique and distinctive style. A-COLD-WALL* straddles the line between wearable streetwear and experimental haute couture, resulting in garments that challenge traditional notions of fashion.
One of the defining features of A-COLD-WALL* is its use of asymmetrical designs, bold graphics, and geometric elements. The brand’s collections often feature unconventional silhouettes and a fusion of fabrics, including nylon, canvas, and technically-developed materials. A-COLD-WALL* has collaborated with luxury brands such as Converse, Eastpak, Timberland, and Retrosuperfuture, establishing its reputation as an innovative and boundary-pushing label. With its focus on combining functionality with artistic expression, A-COLD-WALL* has carved out a unique space in modern luxury streetwear, appealing to those who appreciate cutting-edge design and conceptual fashion.
These are just a few designers who draw inspiration from streetwear and have significantly contributed to the genre. Streetwear continues to evolve and influence the fashion industry, blurring the lines between luxury and casual wear. As designers continue to push boundaries and experiment with new styles, streetwear’s impact on the fashion landscape is set to endure and inspire future generations.