The word of the year for streetwear in 2018 is probably ‘validation.’ A seat at the table doesn’t begin to describe the role that streetwear played in fashion as a whole in 2018. Not only was the streetwear world invited to the table, they took a seat at the head. If barriers were broken and doors were opened in 2017, the broken barriers were thrashed and the doors blown completely off in 2018. Streetwear collaborated, made creative director, and brought home trophies in a year that will likely be remembered as the year streetwear was validated. Interestingly, the world of streetwear is a world that doesn’t need, and likely doesn’t care, about said validation. Perhaps it’s that exact attitude that made them necessary to validate. As luxury brands look to stay relevant, taking a nod from the streets makes sense and validation of the streets is likely the first step in that. Regardless of the brand’s dissociation from the need for validation, streetwear’s biggest moments of the year come out of that validation in every arena imaginable.
Virgil Abloh gets hired at Louis Vuitton
Early in March, a sequence of events was set in motion that would go on to change the trajectory of the streetwear world forever. It all began with Haider Ackermann, seemingly out of nowhere, leaving French luxury house Berluti. His departure created an opening for a new creative director, leading to a massive shift in talent at LVMH. Kris Van Assche was moved from Dior to Berluti to revamp the footwear-focused house, and Kim Jones was moved from Louis Vuitton to Assche’s old position at Dior. This left the LVMH namesake label void of a Men’s Creative Director. As speculation stirred, it was announced that the position would be filled by Virgil Abloh of OFF-WHITE. Until this point, streetwear had always come as an afterthought to anyone interested in luxury. Virgil’s appointment as the Creative Director of one of the most storied luxury brands in history marked an industry-wide affirmation of what was happening in streetwear, and its effect would be easily observable throughout the rest of 2018.
James Jebbia wins CFDA Menswear Designer of The Year
As if Virgil being named Creative Director at Louis Vuitton wasn’t a big deal for streetwear already, in June, the validation was taken a step further. The CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) Awards are an annual event in which the council will decide on the most significant American designers leading their own labels. This year, James Jebbia and Supreme took the award for best menswear designer marking what was maybe the streetwear’s biggest moment of the year. He (and Supreme) were among four other designers; Raf Simons for Calvin Klein, Virgil Abloh, Thom Browne, and Tom Ford. In years past, one would have ruled Jebbia out completely, especially in comparison to the high-powered lineup he would go on to beat out. The award legitimized Supreme on a different level, holding consistent with the theme that in 2018, streetwear is to be taken seriously.
Streetwear Wins Wimbledon
Streetwear and sportswear have always been world intertwined. adidas Originals is essentially a streetwear brand, and first collaborations for streetwear almost always come with sportswear companies. The summer of 2018 marked what would be the beginning of a huge series of wins for both streetwear as a whole, and Palace as a brand. As Wimbledon approached in July, Palace announced a 30 piece tennis collection, and Virgil Abloh announced that he’d be working with Nike and Serena Williams on her gear. Several players donned the Palace collaboration while playing in the tournament: Garbine Muguruza, Angelique Kerber, and Alexander Zverev; Muguruza won the title last year. The women’s tournament saw both collaborations in the finals as Angelique Kerber faced off against Serena Williams; Nike vs adidas, OFF-WHITE vs Palace. Angelique Kerber would take the title, beating Serena, showing the Palace name to headlines and a trophy. Both Palace and OFF-WHITE’s strong appearance at Wimbledon is the cresting of a wave that started rolling some time recently; streetwear in the sports arena. Last year, we saw JR Smith wear a Supreme shooting sleeve, and earlier this year, Roger Federer left his partnership with Nike for Uniqlo. As athletes continue to express themselves through their dress both on and off the court, streetwear is going to become more and more commonplace as a uniform option.
Ralph Lauren Embraces the Streets
This year marked a lot of firsts in the world of streetwear. First creative director at a major fashion house from streetwear, streetwear won a CFDA for the first time, and streetwear won a major sporting spectacle for the first time. As the end of the year approached, it seemed there was no validation left for the streetwear world to earn, and then came Palace Ralph Lauren. The collaboration was Ralph Lauren’s first ever and capped off an incredible year for Palace. The significance of the collaboration comes not only because it was the first time Ralph collaborated, but also because it was the first time Ralph truly acknowledged a culture that his business largely profited from. We can’t dive deep into the history of the Lo-Head here, but Ralph’s acknowledgement of a demographic and the way his clothes were worn signifies a turn in their narrative and desire to be relevant again, even if it was 20 years late. Here’s to seeing if that turns out for them.
BAPE Turns 25
When looking back at the OG streetwear brands, BAPE is one of the first that comes to mind. When you look at brands that are still here, it’s undeniable that they’ve been influential. Just one year older than Supreme, 2018 was BAPE’s 25th year open for business and they did a lot to mark the occasion. A celebratory collection, as well as different 25th anniversary capsules have been dropped over over the course of 2018 including callbacks to a lot of iconic BAPE designs. An exhibition was hosted featuring merchandise both new and old, placing archival pieces on display at multiple locations. In December, BAPE tapped a number of mainstream artists to perform at their BAPE HEADS SHOW held at Madison Square Garden. Kid Cudi, Pusha T, Wiz Khalifa, Lil Yachty, and Big Sean all performed in honor of the anniversary. As the brand eclipses 25 years, their significance is made clear by the excellent reception to their celebratory year. Here’s to 25 more, BAPE.
Jonah Hill ascends to Streetwear’s Upper Echelon
The last item in our list of big moments surrounds a person, and not a brand. In 2018, streetwear found a new sweetheart and his name is Jonah Hill. Jonah’s streetwear stardom hit the mainstream this year, but it’s been brewing for several years. Jonah hit the scene in 2015 when now defunct Twitter account, Four Pins (RIP), tweeted a picture of Jonah, hashtagging it “#jonahhillfitwatch2k15”. From there, he continued on his path to becoming a Fit God, appearing on SNL in a Palace shirt and even appearing in some of their promos. In 2017, semi-popular Barstool fashion podcast, Failing Upwards, hosted the first annual “Jonah Hill Day.” In 2018, while promoting his directorial debut, Mid-90’s, he showed up to Jonah Hill Day, which became a hot topic in every one of his interviews in the several month long press run that came to follow. With the release of his movie and the buzz around his appearance at his own annual day, the public’s attention was fully shifted to the way he dressed. Esquire called his approach to street style “perfect” and PageSix called him a “budding style icon.” Garage Magazine referred to Jonah and others like him as streetwear’s “Pussy Posse,” equating them to Leonardo Dicaprio and his boys, who are known for causing trouble and being cool while doing it. If we’re talking about things that are zeitgeisty, Jonah’s widespread acceptance and exaltation is one of streetwear’s biggest moments.
Despite not asking for it, the rest of the world is beginning to show validation to the world of streetwear. For the first time ever, major players in fashion acknowledged streetwear in a way that they’d never done before. Whether it was Virgil being made Men’s Creative Director at one of the most storied fashion houses in history or Supreme winning a CFDA, 2018 was a gigantic year for streetwear. Several of these events mark not only huge moments for streetwear in 2018, but also for streetwear as a whole. If the progress made in 2018 is any indication, streetwear is only going to get bigger in 2019.
Shop the best 2018 gear from Supreme, BAPE, Palace, Kith, Off-White, and more now on Stockx.