In These Streets: 6 Brands That Define The Elements Of Streetwear
From the mid-90s to today, we have had the privilege of witnessing the birth of street fashion. In this golden era, we have watched the rise of several iconic brands. Among them the legendary Polo to the more recent Black Scale. The 90s and 2000s brought the element of the street to apparel and inspiration to future designers.
With so many to choose from, I curated a 6Piece list for the streetwear and fashion brands that have inspired me over the past 2 decades.
1. Polo Ralph Lauren
The legend of Polo designed by Ralph Lauren began as luxury neckties in 1967. Fast forward 20 years, the man on the horse was layered all over Hip Hop Heads in the early 90s, usually paired with Air Jordans and Sony Discmans. Polo represents a combination of high fashion and streetwear that remains in the DNA of many streetwear brands today. Polo is still a status symbol and an embodiment of timeless Americana fashion. Simply put, Ralph never goes out of style.
Shawn Stussy started crafting custom-made surfboards from his hometown in Orange County, California in the early 80s. Inspired by his Uncle’s Jan Stussy’ signature, Shawn would mark his surname to identify each of his handcrafted surfboards. This eventually led to him using this same logo on tees and shorts. The brand grew slowly over the decade, reaching a cult-like status that became the famed Stussy label we know and love today. What Stussy has consistently brought to streetwear is authenticity and maintaining its roots. Stussy is the embodiment of what a streetwear brand can become.
3. Billionaire Boys Club
Created in 2005, Music Royalty Pharrell Williams and Fashion Guru Nigo combined elements of Japanese street culture and American hip hop style to birth the Billionaire Boys Club. The label has easily become one of the most recognizable brands over the last decade. Their ability to reinvent themselves through collaborations with powerhouses such as Adidas and Timberland is what truly intrigues me about this brand. This flexibility has allowed the BBC to ride the many waves of street fashion.
4. Fear of God
Jerry Lorenzo appeared out of nowhere with his highly coveted Fear of God label. With no prior fashion training or design background, Jerry has been able to solidify Fear of God as arguably one of the most sought-after brands in streetwear today. What separates Fear of God from other high-end streetwear brands is Lorenzo’s ability to blend the lavish with the grunge and craft rock star styled garments that are unrivaled by the competition. With celebrities from Justin Bieber to Jay-Z rocking Fear of God and collaborations with Nike in the near future, it is safe to say this is only the genesis for Fear of God.
5. The Hundreds
Bobby Kim and Ben Shenassafar came together to found the LA-inspired streetwear brand The Hundreds in 2003. What separates this streetwear brand from the rest of the pack is their ability to appeal to many unique individuals. They use their brand and social media presence to connect with people from different walks of life. From the skaters to Hip Hop Heads to creatives and everything in between, The Hundreds has something for all of us who share a passion for street culture and fashion.
6. Black Scale
Founded in 2007 by famed streetwear designers Michael “MEGA” Yabut and Alfred De Tagle, Black Scale balances elements of street style and goth effortlessly to create a brand that is unique in its own right. Black Scale brings its dark and sophisticated designs to street fashion and challenges us to step outside of the status quo. This innovative brand has collaborated with the likes of Adidas and BAPE, as well as being on the backs of hip hop royalty A$AP Rocky and J.Cole. In an ever-changing fashion industry, Black Scale continues to deliver their unapologetic view on streetwear.
These 6 brands, from Stussy to Fear of God, have all contributed to my admiration for street culture and fashion. As the embodiments of cool confidence, quality, and relevance, they continue to inspire up and coming brands and designers to follow suit. Do yourself a favor and dive deeper into their respective collections and movements. Let me know which of these brands that you connect with the most, or if there are any others out there I didn’t mention.
Sway Calloway is one of the most revered journalists of hip-hop. It’s only fitting he would launch his very own block party, Sway Fest, in the Bay Area!