The intersection of high fashion, streetwear and sneakers that defines the Highsnobiety universe has come a long way in the past 365 days. This year we’ve seen a whole ton of new trends and new brands, alongside the usual hysteria-inducing collaborations, street style peacocking and highly-coveted footwear releases, too.
It’s about time, then, that we look back on 2015 and consider what incidents had the biggest impact on our beloved world of fashion, streetwear and sneakers. Of course, a few names were bound to crop up no matter what – although 2015 has given us more than its fair share of surprises, too.
Without further ado, here’s the 10 biggest moments of 2015.
H&M x Balmain Caused Pandemonium
H&M’s annual designer collaborations are more than just a way of adding high-end styling to the fast-fashion giant’s collections. The insane demand for affordable designer gear inevitably creates tons of free publicity for both parties – H&M’s past projects with Versace, Alexander Wang and COMME des GARCONS sold out in a heartbeat, with huge queues stretching outside stores and the retailer’s website crashing under the weight of the traffic.
This year’s partnership with Parisian house Balmain took previous years’ hype to new levels. Olivier Rousteing’s vast social media following and A-list celebrity friends ensured that swarms of people with questionable taste tore each other to pieces at H&M stores worldwide, just to get a bit of the Parisian house’s glitz-and-glamor aesthetic on the low.
In a rather depressing turn of events, the collection even ended up reaching real Balmain prices on eBay. It seems that it’s not just sneakerheads and Hypebeasts who are willing to forgo all ideas of quality just to buy into a bit of hype these days.
Check out a brief history of H&M’s high fashion collaborations for further reading.
The World Met “Gosha Kylie”
Instagram maven, Normcore style icon, A$AP Mob affiliate and, as of 2015, celebrity stylist – Ian Connor is a man of many talents. The ever-divisive New Yorker may only be 22 years young, but that hasn’t stopped him from carving a niche as a one of streetwear and rap’s most prominent tastemakers.
Connor’s influence reached new heights in September, when he announced that he would be officially styling none other than Kylie Jenner. In what came as a shock to many, the Kardashian/Jenner clan’s rising star (who has nearly 45 million Instagram followers) would now be clothed by someone with a fondness for both underground skate labels – namely Supreme and Palace – and esoteric designers like Raf Simons and, most notably in this case, Gosha Rubchinskiy.
Shortly after Connor’s announcement, a picture emerged of the LA mega-celebrity decked out in a tee from Rubchinskiy’s FW15 collection. The pic was met with unease from many in the streetwear community – what did this mean for Moscow’s upcoming wunderkind? Would his post-Soviet take on skatewear be forever tainted by association with the world’s most famous (and, let’s be honest, loathed) family?
Given streetwear’s increasing mainstream popularity and the credibility it’s enjoying in the high fashion world these days, we’ll probably be seeing a lot more celebrity-streetwear collisions in the future – and a lot more offended keyboard warriors, too.
It’s worth remembering, however, that Supreme has been spotted on the backs of questionably dressed celebrities for years, and that’s hardly damaged the Box Logo’s street cred. We very much doubt Kylie Jenner will harm Rubchinskiy’s blossoming career, either.
The YEEZY Season 1 Presentation Shut Down NYFW
Kanye West may have the Midas Touch in streetwear, but things are a little different for Yeezy when it comes to the notoriously insular world of high fashion. Pastelle, the rap megastar’s first foray into clothing, was abandoned before it saw the light of day, and his 2012 womenswear collections were also scrapped after less-than-positive reviews.
Yeezy has regularly slammed the fashion cognoscenti’s perceived elitism, so maybe it’s not surprising that when his latest clothing venture was unveiled at New York Fashion Week in February, it was met with mixed reviews.
The collection’s disheveled, military-inspired aesthetic was in itself nothing new – neither Tim Blanks nor Cathy Horyn were fans – and its hugely delayed presentation frustrated editors with jam-packed schedules. That didn’t stop YEEZY Season 1 from being one of the most talked-about shows of the season, though. Hardly surprising, given that Kanye is one of – if not the – most influential figures in men’s fashion today. Naturally, the collection’s sneakers caused mayhem when they dropped – much like West’s previous projects with Louis Vuitton and Nike.
The line’s high-end pricing would spark controversy when it came to light that many pieces would reach well into the thousands – prompting tons of lower-priced brands to imitate Ye’s new disheveled aesthetic. Nevertheless, given Kanye’s vast influence, we imagine we’ll be seeing a lot of YEEZY Season 1’s washed fabrics, boxy silhouettes, distressed detailing and muted colorways in the future.
Supreme x Jordan Finally Happened
Supreme’s collaborations are just as big a part of the brand’s DNA as its Box Logo, elusive persona and notoriously tight distribution. In its 20-year history, the NYC label has partnered with pretty much every icon of streetwear, menswear and beyond – Nike, Levi’s, COMME des GARCONS, BAPE, you name it – but one pinnacle of street culture remained untouched by the brand until October 2015, when Supreme released its very own Air Jordan V sneaker.
In typical Supreme style, the collaboration subtly reworked a pre-existing classic, as the legendary sneaker was dropped in desert camo, white and Jordan-staple “Bred” colorways, finished with ‘Preme branding upon the heel, upper and lace charm. The label even managed to get His Airness himself to participate in the collaboration’s campaign.
Demand for the sneakers was so fierce that Supreme chose not to drop them at either of its NYC or LA locations – pretty sensible considering police had to shut down the brand’s Air Foamposite release. The AJV – and accompanying apparel collection – was a hallmark moment in Supreme’s star-studded career, and led us to question how the brand could possibly top such an achievement.
Check out scenes from the Supreme Air Jordan V drop in London and Japan here.
Raf Simons Quit Dior
High fashion’s headline-grabbing round of musical chairs intensified in October, when Raf Simons announced he would be stepping down from his position as Creative Director at legendary Parisian house Christian Dior. Raf’s exit came amid similar departures from Alexander Wang – who left Balenciaga at the end of July to focus on his own label – and Alber Elbaz – who was dismissed from Lanvin just one week after Simons left Dior.
“It is a decision based entirely and equally on my desire to focus on other interests in my life, including my own brand,” the 47-year-old Belgian stated in an official press release, before elaborating further with Cathy Horyn for Business of Fashion. “When you do six shows a year, there’s not enough time for the whole process,” he admitted. “Technically speaking, it works. Does it work for me emotionally? No, because I’m not the kind of person who likes to do things so fast.”
Given the intense pressures facing designers these days, it’s hardly surprising that many are choosing to focus their energies in one place. Earlier in the year, Kriss Van Assche did the opposite of Simons, shuttering his own label to concentrate on his work at Dior’s Homme label. Simons’ work at the legendary Parisian house required a designing six collections per year (that’s spring couture, spring, pre-fall, fall, fall couture and resort, FYI), many of which were created in just three weeks.
Luckily for us, men’s fashion moves at a more forgiving pace, which is probably why Simons has chosen to focus on his own label instead. Given that he is one of the most relevant and influential men’s designers working today, the thought of Raf Simons approaching his own label with renewed vigor is very exciting indeed.
Demna Gvasalia Was Appointed Artistic Director of Balenciaga
Speaking of designer departures, the announcement that Alexander Wang’s time at Balenciaga would be coming to an end was – as usual – met with a flurry of gossip and rumors pondering who the American’s replacement would be. The New York Times reported that Balenciaga alumni Julien Dossena and Bouchra Jarrar were being considered for the role, along with sacai’s Chitose Abe.
The final outcome was much more surprising: the legendary Parisian couturier had appointed Georgian-born designer Demna Gvasalia as its new Artistic Director. A relative unknown, Gvasalia’s Vetements collective was one of Paris’s most intriguing – and talked-about – labels, whose anti-fashion approach to design (its name is simply French for “clothing”) was in stark contrast to Balenciaga’s high-end luxury.
Gvasalia had previously worked at Louis Vuitton and Maison Margiela before heading up the mysterious collective, and his new assignment was seen as a way of giving the almost 100-year-old couture house some much-needed street cred.
A similar move occurred earlier in the year, when Gucci appointed Alessandro Michele – also an unknown – to replace departing director Frida Giannini. Michele has been a roaring success so far (his debut collection won’t be marked down come end of season, Business of Fashion reports), injecting vibrant, bombastic flair into the label, and we imagine Balenciaga’s Kering Group owners were keen on replicating his success for themselves.
Want to brush up on Balenciaga’s new director? Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Demna Gvasalia.
Drake Dropped the “OVO” Air Jordan X
Drake may not be the most influential of his peers fashion-wise – leave the serious stunting to Kanye and Rocky – but that didn’t stop the rap megastar from causing a minor earthquake when his Air Jordan X sneakers were dropped out of the blue at the October’s Very Own LA pop-up back in April.
The OVO AJX was the most valuable sneaker of 2015 Q2 by a very, very long way. The sneaker fetched an average of $4,050 on the resell market, in no doubt thanks to its tiny production run and sudden drop (which echoed the surprise release of the Air Yeezy 2 “Red October”). It still sold out instantly when it was reissued at select Jordan retailers in October, mind.
Drake’s OVO imprint – which now spans a record label, festival and surprisingly competent made-in-Canada clothing line – has become one of the rap world’s most prominent collectives, and the ridiculous hype surrounding the crew’s Jordan release only cemented that fact. Rumor has it that the black colorway of the sneaker will be dropping at some point in 2016, by the way.
Hermès Hooked Up With Apple
Not long after Apple rolled out the highly-anticipated Apple Watch, the Cupertino tech giant announced it would be producing a special version of the gadget with Hermès. The watches recalled the Parisian house’s equestrian roots, with single-tour, double-tour and cuff strapped versions all directly inspired by Hermès’s luxury leather bracelets.
This momentous team-up of the world’s largest tech company with one of the world’s most exclusive fashion houses seemed to indicate a whole world of new possibilities for Apple. The megabrand had made obvious its attempts to angle the Apple Watch as a fashion accessory, by hiring former Yves Saint Laurent and Burberry CEOs Paul Deneve and Angela Ahrendts, and unveiling a campaign for the smartwatch shot by David Sims.
Combined with ads in Vogue, watches gifted to models and a special gold versions made especially for A-list influencers – like Karl Lagerfeld – the Apple Watch Hermes was the latest development in the ongoing campaign for the gadget to be taken seriously in the fashion world. While this writer must admit to not seeing a single Hermès Apple Watch in the wild, the implications for the device’s future are certainly interesting.
Karmaloop Went Bust
Times are undoubtedly tough for retailers these days, but it came as a real shock when e-commerce streetwear juggernaut Karmaloop filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier in the year, with over $100 million owed to both creditors and unpaid brands.
The shop had started in founder Greg Selkoe’s basement in the early days of internet retail, and quickly evolved into an online store of giant proportions, stocking pretty much every label under the sun in streetwear’s mid-’00s heyday. Many veterans of the scene got their first taste of streetwear through the site – which was also one of Highsnobiety‘s first-ever advertisers, by the way.
Karmaloop’s financial troubles were down to the failure of several ambitious projects – namely a 24-hour TV station and diffusion stores Boylston Trading Co. and Miss KL – and its debts included over $500k owed to HUF, over $300k owed to 10.Deep and $156k owed to Vans.
In a pretty ridiculous turn of events, it was even rumored that Kanye West and Dame Dash wanted to buy the flailing webshop, although the much less exciting sounding Comvest Capital and CapX Partners now currently own the business, and are busy restructuring the company – with Selkoe moved to a purely advisory role.
Michael J. Fox Debuted the World’s First Self-Lacing Nike Air MAG
Nike’s sneaker archive is filled with gems, but among the many Swoosh-adorned classics, the Air MAG is truly the stuff of legend. When Tinker Hatfield was asked to design a futuristic shoe for Michael J. Fox (aka Marty McFly) to wear in the second Back To The Future movie, he created a space-age high-top with electroluminescent light-up panels, a rechargeable internal battery and automatic, self-fastening laces.
Thanks to online petitions from BTTF-obsessed sneakerheads, the Air MAG actually made it into production – in 2011, Nike put 1,500 pairs of the shoe up for auction to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease. While the shoes raised a total of $4.7 million for the charity, they lacked the automatic laces that captured so many imaginations nearly 30 years ago.
That all changed in October of this year, when it came to light (on October 21 – Back to the Future Day, no less) that Nike would be dropping the Air MAG in 2016 – complete with power laces. Tinker Hatfield even personally wrote a letter to Michael J. Fox to personally tell him the news, while Nike confirmed that fully working Air MAGs would be made available next year – once again via auction. The actor then demonstrated the working laces on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, causing sneakerheads to lose their minds, naturally.
Given how utterly legendary the Air MAG is in Nike lore, we imagine we will be hearing a lot from this shoe in 2016, too.
For more end of year content, take a look at The 10 Biggest Trends of 2015, The 10 Biggest Streetwear Moments of the Past Decade and vote for your favorite brands, collaborations and retailers in our annual Highsnobiety Crowns awards.
The views and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of Highsnobiety as a whole.