Over the past four decades, streetwear has gone from rebellious undercurrent culture to the uniform of the masses. Tightly tied to the worlds of skateboarding, music and art, the subgenre of fashion has found its way by bringing together genres, eras and interests as a form of wearable messaging.
Amassing a following through sought-after graphic T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts, the streetwear movement has spread its wings to runway shows and boutique brands, still wearing its heart on its sleeve through satirical styling and can’t-miss collabs.
Here are the best streetwear brands you should know.
In 1980, Stüssy invented streetwear as we know it. Their signature branding — both literal and figurative — set the tone for how the genre would grow and operate, stamping decades of apparel with an ageless, youthful aesthetic. Started in Laguna Beach, Calif., by founder Shawn Stussy, the brand has spoken to multiple generations of creatives, collaborating with the likes of Nike, Dior and others.
Los Angeles-based brand The Hundreds began in 2003 and remains running today. Birthed by law school classmates Bobby Kim and Ben Shenassafar, their bomb logo branding swept streetwear during the ascent of the internet, quickly proving sought after and accessible at the same time. Embraced by skaters, rappers and style purveyors on both coasts and hemispheres, The Hundreds has been on the forefront of many trends such as flannel shirts and NFTs.
In 1994, James Jebbia founded skate shop and brand Supreme after managing Union and working with Shawn Stussy. Over the course of the next two decades, Supreme became synonymous with New York City skate and streetwear culture thanks to its limited launches, standoffish staff and sharp design. Working with the likes of Nike, Comme des Garçons and Vans, Supreme is a billion-dollar brand with world famous fanfare.
Raised in New York City and migrating to L.A., Union has lived on two coasts across multiple decades as a hub for unique items and creative minds. Once owned by Eddie Cruz and now fronted by Chris Gibbs, the shop started in 1989 and has housed products from all over the world, always on the cutting edge of what’s next. Whether collaborating with Jordan Brand or bringing in pieces from London to Japan, Union has an eye all its own.
Started by Brendon Babenzien and Estelle Bailey-Babenzien in 2015, New York based Noah lives as a bridge between the spirit of streetwear and craftsmanship of menswear. Created consciously with people and environment in mind, Noah exists in its NYC flagship as well as at Dover Street Market locations around the world. Its mature aesthetic is made more lush by revered fabrics, offering yet another layer to the loaded genre.
Rooted in skateboarding and started in London, Palace has become an “it” brand in streetwear since rolling out in 2009. Led by Lev Tanju and influenced heavily by 1990s aesthetics and VHS film, the brand represents skaters such as Lucien Clarke and boasts the likes of Jay-Z and Jonah Hill as fans. Its expansion to outerwear and coveted collaborations make it one of the hottest brands in streetwear.
After spending his impressional years at the shops of Fairfax in L.A. and becoming a bonafide streetwear superstar in his own right, Odd Future frontman Tyler, the Creator took the power in his own hands to form the label Golf Wang. Headquartered on that same strip, the rebellious rapper with a background in skate helped spearhead a new generation of streetwear after being raised on the one before. Today, Golf Wang branding covers everything, such as colorful hoodies and sweater vests.
Since starting in 2012, Awake has hit in its home of NYC, staying true to the history of streetwear and the direction it’s headed in. Sharp graphics, fresh fonts and unique patterns wear well on its T-shirts, sweaters and more, showing just how far the subculture has come. Both vibrant and timeless, Awake is staying in stride, working heavyweights such as Carhartt to Merrell.
Cactus Plant Flea Market
With reversible ski bands, puffy paint artist merch and bedazzled Nike Dunks, Cactus Plant Flea Market has sprouted as one of the most identifiable brands in the streetwear space. Started by designer Cynthia Lu in 2015, CPFM has earned the eye and endorsement from the likes of Pharrell and Kanye West, collaborating with the likes of Nike, Playboi Carti and Human Made. Iconic pieces such as the Sock Hoodie and Double Vision Smiley Rug place Cactus Plant Flea Market in a space all its own.
Aimé Leon Dore
Merging menswear with streetwear, NYC-based brand Aimé Leon Dore has soared since starting in 2014. Created in Queens by Teddy Santis, the brand adds street sensibilities to highly crafted outerwear and basics by way of embroidered branding. Cultural references to The Big Apple’s Golden Era resonate on pieces that speak to various walks of life, celebrating the diversity and dignity that comes with being a New Yorker.
Born in 1995, 10 Deep’s reverence for their pioneering peers in streetwear helped spark a movement that still lives on today. Reflecting the visual tastes of New York, Tokyo and London, the brand has shifted with the times as a means to always best showcase the spirit of youth culture. For many, 10 Deep hit the hardest during the blog rap boom of the late 2000s, making mixtape merch for the likes of Kid Cudi and Wale.
The late, great Keith Hufnagel came into his own by skating the streets of New York City in the 1980s. Relocating to San Francisco in the 1990s, the following decade sparked the birth of his nickname-sake shop, Huf. The Bay Area boutique opened its doors in 2002, selling skate decks and housing the best brands in streetwear. Over the course of the new millennium, Huf would literally and figuratively become Huf Worldwide, collaborating with Nike SB on storied Dunks and releasing its own range of celebrated streetwear.
After delivering his Pyrex Vision imprint, former Kanye West creative director Virgil Abloh launched his beloved venture Off-White. With Off-White, Abloh has successfully bridged the worlds of gallery art and street dreams through heavily branded graphic luxury fashion. Both functional and satirical, Off-White has become one of the most sought after and polarizing labels to ever elevate and exist in streetwear.
A Bathing Ape
Birthed by the man known as Nigo, A Bathing Ape reigns as one of the most prolific streetwear brands to ever exist. The Japanese label made a name for itself in the 1990s when The Notorious BIG was photographed in the brand’s camo clad jacket, later making waves in the 2000s through full-zip hooded sweatshirts and Nike Air Force 1-inspired sneakers. Though no longer owned by Nigo, the brand abbreviated as Bape remains a fixture of international streetwear through its iconic camouflage patterns and legacy endorsement from the likes of Pharrell, Jay Z, Kanye West, The Clipse, Kid Cudi, Travis Scott, Lil Wayne and others.
Fear of God Essentials
Jerry Lorenzo’s Fear of God luxury label has extended into the streetwear space through his Essentials line. Creating everyday basics at more affordable price points, Lorenzo’s eye for shape and love of earth tones are expressed easily through Essentials. Firm branding and cozy cuts have made the FOG Essentials line a favorite for fans of streetwear, pairing perfectly with sought after sneakers and sandals alike.
Diamond Supply Co.
California skate brand Diamond Supply Co. has boomed from boutique favorite to mainstream staple. The Nick Tershay line became notorious in the 2000s after the release of the “Tiffany” Nike SB Dunk Low designed by its founder, eventually gaining esteem for its clothing beyond skate culture thanks to endorsements from rappers including Curren$y and Wale. Over the years, the brand’s signature font, Tiffany tones and Sade references have become beloved by a new generation of supporters.
Anti Social Social Club
Satire and irony have always been at the heart of streetwear. Playing that card up, Anti Social Social Club is the brainchild of former Stüssy employee Neek Lurk. A comical name, signature font and high profile collaborations have made ASSC a streetwear mainstay since arriving in the 2010s.
Undefeated, often branded as UNDFTD, rose from tier zero sneaker boutique to worldwide streetwear brand. Gaining notoriety by being the first shop to collaborate with Jordan Brand on a retro release, the streetwear staple has expanded by opening up stores all over the West Coast and out east in Japan. References to military flight jackets, varsity athletic aesthetics and its famous five strikes logo have become global for the company that’s made fitted caps, commemorative Nike Kobe sneakers and more.
Birthed in L.A. by Eli Bonerz and Adam Silverman in 1991, X-Large has lasted the test of time as one of streetwear’s most seminal fixtures. Gaining momentum through the help of Mike D of The Beastie Boys, director Spike Jonze and members of rock band Sonic Youth, the West Coast trailblazer has since expanded to having shops in New York, Toronto and Tokyo. Their gorilla logo is instantly recognizable by OGs in both hemispheres, keeping the brand alive in its fourth decade of existence.
Alife arrived in 1999, bringing even more branding and personality to New York City’s booming streetwear scene. Known for its collaborations with the best brands in sportswear, Alife separated itself from its peers in the 2000s by hosting live events with the likes of John Mayer and Just Blaze. Although its famed Rivington Club store in NYC has closed, it has remained synonymous with the Big Apple.