The HS Crowns are an annual awards series celebrating the very best in streetwear and street culture over the past 12 months. All shortlists are chosen by the in-house editorial staff at Highsnobiety, with the final result left up to you, the readers.
For every vote you cast in this year’s HS Crowns you have the chance to win a brand new iPad Pro or an Apple Watch. The full list of results will be published just before Christmas.
Uniqlo x Lemaire
When it comes to collaborations, UNIQLO’s track record is near-impeccable. The Japanese retailer has proven itself able to attract some incredibly big names from both the world of serious fashion (Jil Sander, Alexander Plokhov, Carine Roitfeld), as well as streetwear (UNDERCOVER, NIGO, Pharrell), but this year’s hookup with leftfield French luxury house Lemaire took everyone by surprise.
It may not have created the same levels of pandemonium as H&M’s dignity-shattering collab with Balmain. But, then again, the type of person who feels at home in a smart monochrome wool blend duffle coat surely isn’t the type to be seen stampeding through shop doors for a sequinned sailor’s jacket.
When you strip back all the marketing hype, the core of every good collaboration should be the product. Lemaire’s offering with UNIQLO certainly understood that, and presented a refined and incredibly well-made men’s and women’s collection for a very respectable price.
Stüssy x DSM
2015 saw a host of collaborative releases from Stüssy in celebration of their 35th anniversary. Of these, one of the best was surely the mature and wide-reaching collection produced in conjunction with Dover Street Market.
Touching on elements from across the brand’s vast history — from graphic photo tees to smart shirting and some ultra-collectable hand-stitched numbers — this collection had a little bit of everything, highlighting Stüssy’s enduring (and much envied) ability to straddle the worlds of streetwear, the mass market and high-fashion with ease.
With an increasing number of well-connected fashion figures involved with the brand these days, such as Inventory magazine’s Ryan Willms and Stephen Mann, it seems Stüssy’s style cachet is in good hands. And, with collabs as good looking as this, it’s clear things are heading in the right direction.
Hermès x Apple
Make no mistake, Apple joining forces with Hermès was a big moment in 2015. So big, in fact, that we wrote an entire article about it (which you should probably go and read). If you’re short on time, however, here’s a brief summary of why it was such a big deal…
Up until this point, Apple has always believed in the aesthetic supremacy of its products, which has served it fairly while the primary focus has been on items that are functional. However, with its expansion into the more appearance-driven watch market, Apple discovered the one area its brand isn’t cool enough to conquer on its own.
By roping in Hermès to produce a range of watch straps Apple shifted the entire paradigm around its product, making it not so much the key stylistic focus as the core functional element. And, in doing so, they effectively paved the way for its long-term future as part of our lives. That is what you call a genius bit of marketing.
Supreme x UNDERCOVER
Love them or loathe them, you can’t deny that Supreme collabs always cause a stir, and this year’s effort with Jun Takahashi’s UNDERCOVER (in many respects an Asian kindred spirit to the NY brand) certainly did that.
Conceived as part of UNDERCOVER’s 25th anniversary celebrations, the collection ranged from simple graphic tees through to military outerwear, leather biker jackets, bondage trousers, all-over print hoodies and even a novelty pillow! In typically divisive fashion for both brands, the irony was laid on thick in the overt references to anarchism and punk that adorned the range (despite the obvious materialistic nature of the garments themselves).
Nevertheless, coming from two names such as these, such contentious design was hardly surprising. The only real surprise was the brand hookup hadn’t happened sooner…
Supreme x Jordan
Worldwide, there are few names that command more fervent überfandom than Supreme and Jordan Brand. So, when the pair announced they would be releasing a collection together this year, it was as if two hype-fuelled suns had collided to form a streetwear supernova.
Keeping things very deliberately classic (for the apparel, at least), the collection consisted of little more than a thorough range of co-branded capsule staples — everything from tees and hoodies through to snapbacks, sweatpants and a bomber jacket. However, what it lacked in complexity, it more than made up for in the sheer perfect coincidence of the branding, replacing the “R” of Supreme with the inimitable Jumpman logo.
Such was the anticipation over its release that Supreme had to cancel their in-store release of the collaborative Jordan V sneaker in New York and L.A (most likely on grounds of personal safety) and the products in the online store sold out faster than you can say “Sup”. But then, would you have expected anything else?
H&M x Balmain
It would almost be enough to replace this description with a series of gifs highlighting the sheer chaos that ensued at H&M stores around the world following this collection’s release.
Olivier Rousteing’s infamously ostentatious designs at H&M prices? For many aspiring fans and wannabe glitterati this was an offer too good to be true, leading to scenes more reminiscent of the worst of Black Friday than a storied Parisian fashion house.
Targeting an audience worlds away from the Alexander Wang’s sombre street goth offering last year (and admittedly gunning for the girls a lot more than the guys this time around), the world’s largest fast fashion chain put everything they had into the celebrity-fronted social media campaign, and the results paid off more than anyone could’ve imagined. Say what you like about the clothing itself, no other release generated as many headlines in 2015.
Palace x adidas Originals
Now in its third season, Palace’s collaborative work with adidas has continued to go from strength to strength, forming the basis of what could be a truly classic partnership in the making.
As has come to be the norm, the London skate label’s collection with the German giants this year resulted in some excellent, nostalgia-tinged sportswear, with more than a slight nod towards the early ’90s. True to form, alongside the standard bevvy of black and white co-branded numbers, Palace pulled out some of the most eye-catching statement pieces of the year, alongside some truly innovative takes on headwear that have become something of a hallmark.
What’s more, the most recent collection built on previous efforts with the release of two entirely original footwear silhouettes, proving that Palace aren’t content with simply serving up re-issued styles in new colorways. With such a continually strong output, the adi x Pally love-in show no signs of abating, and we’re keen to see how things will progress for SS16.
Levi’s x Patta
In an age of half-baked collaborations and awkward brand hook-ups, it’s refreshing to see two brands really go in on something simple, and give it all they’ve got. Earlier this year, Levi’s and Amsterdam streetwear stalwarts Patta did just that, executing a full collection of acid washed goodness that chimed perfectly with this year’s ’90s nostalgia obsession.
Eschewing all the traditional stigma, the collection managed to pull off two of that bravest of sartorial moves known to man: double denim AND the fanny pack. What’s more, they made it look as cool as anything we’ve seen all year.
Made up of three classic Levi’s styles — a 501CT jean, a trucker jacket and a western shirt — alongside one seriously head-turning fishtail hooded parka and a handful of accessories, the collection’s faded look gave it an appearance so effortless that it was almost impossible to resist its appeal.
Stüssy x Kiko Kostadinov
Kiko Kostadinov’s work with Stüssy began as a mere one-off project for a photoshoot, but in the time that has followed the concept has gone from strength to strength. Taking a selection of Stüssy basics and re-engineering them into entirely new garments with some nifty cut-n-sew work, every piece in the collaboration is 100% unique and one of a kind.
As you might expect, an extraordinary amount of effort goes into each one, and for the latest (and last) instalment, Kostadinov even developed his own fabric dying technique involving a wooden board and hundreds of metal staples, leading to many, many man hours putting them in and taking them out again.
To find this level of thought, consideration and commitment in a collaboration is almost unheard of these days, and the sentiment is made all the sweeter given that Kiko’s fee for the project went towards funding his master’s degree at Central Saint Martin’s. We would say go and help support that effort, but every piece sold out in a matter of days.
Gosha Rubchinskiy x Timur Novikov
While Gosha Rubichinskiy has rapidly become the name to drop in streetwear this year, the inspiration behind many of his designs is often far deeper than the simplistic graphics might suggest.
For Spring Summer 15, the Russian designer drew on the work of fellow countryman Timur Novikov — considered one of the Post-Soviet era’s most important and influential avant-garde artists and critical thinkers. Although Novikov passed away in 2002, this year Rubchinskiy took the opportunity to revive some of the artist’s most celebrated work: “Horizons”, a series of simplistic fabric paintings in bold, contrasting colors that were a personal favourite of none other than Andy Warhol.
What, to some, may have looked like a garish array of naive and childish designs was actually a tasteful and reverential homage to one of the foremost figures in Russian counterculture. And that is why Gosha remains such an interesting and commendable presence in modern fashion, regardless of the hype machine.
KITH x New Era
As remarkable as it sounds, prior to this year, headwear über-brand New Era had never once allowed another label to apply their own design to a New York Yankees authentic 59FIFTY fitted cap. For that simple fact alone, KITH’s collaborative NY Yankees New Era deserves a place in this list.
For many fans, the wait will have been worth it, as KITH’s history-making take on the iconic peak was simple, tasteful and true to the forces involved. With just 250 of the hats made, supported by a campaign featuring the likes of Joey Badas$$, Action Bronson, Victor Cruz and Mobb Deep, it’s fair to say this was a resounding home run from Ronnie Fieg.
Given KITH’s proud status as a pillar of the NY streetwear scene, there really was no better name to pull out of (and put on) the hat.
Lacoste x Peanuts
The drawings of Charles Schulz, with all their 1960s cultural weight, translate perfectly onto cotton, and there have been a slew of brands to have collaborated with Peanuts in recent seasons (everyone from BAPE to Burton, Vans, WTAPS and even, *ahem*, Married To The Mob).
However, of all the Peanuts collabs to have graced our inboxes recently, few have been as well-executed as the capsule collection from Lacoste in October. Across a selection of the brand’s iconic collared shirts, the collection cleverly placed Peanuts characters into scenes featuring the iconic green crocodile, resulting in something that felt playful, yet never to the point of being childish.
While Snoopy and the Gang may never grow old, the same can’t be said for their fans, and Lacoste’s effort here was the ultimate nostalgia piece for anyone who had grown up with the comic but still wanted to show some love.
adidas Originals x Pharrell
Pharrell Williams is no stranger to adidas. He’s also not shy of a collaboration or two (or two thousand). Nevertheless, for all the somewhat questionable endeavours the man has lent his name to over the years, every so often there’s one that stands out as a real moment of class, and in 2015 that was the adidas Originals Jacquard Pack.
Built around an elaborate vintage floral fabric that Williams discovered on a trip to Paris, the collection was a simple duo of Superstar jackets and Stan Smith sneakers, all decked out in the kind of sumptuous embroidery you might find in a Louis XIV dressing room at Versailles.
Miles away from the garish pop fashion of his Supercolor collab with the Three Stripes earlier in the year, the Jacquard pack was a timely reminder of the musician’s design acumen, and proof that he can be sophisticated when he wants to be.
Wood Wood x Reebok
You can thank the UK for the ’90s sportswear resurgence that has appeared absolutely everywhere this year. And in that vein, Scandinavian stalwarts Wood Wood saw no better name to collaborate with than proud symbol of British street culture Reebok, capturing the zeitgeist perfectly.
From bucket hats to bespoke Ventilators, everything about this venture perfectly evoked that ’90s spirit without feeling mawkish or out-dated. What’s more, Wood Wood even paired the sportswear staples with a handful of more mature and minimal pieces entirely befitting the more understated nature of Scandinavian style. The result? An extremely solid and cohesive collection that spanned two cultures, and two eras, perfectly.
PUMA X ICNY
2015 wasn’t the first time ICNY has teamed up with Puma, but it was certainly their most comprehensive effort to date with the German powerhouse. And, while this collaboration certainly wasn’t one of the most talked about releases of the year, design-wise it really raised the bar on anything the two brands had done previously.
Clocking in at a full five-piece capsule collection, complete with outerwear, two footwear silhouettes (in four colors), a bag, and a co-branded pop-up shop in New York, this was a project that had real effort behind it. And, while for many brands the use of 3M became a played-out design gimmick, with a running/cycling brand like ICNY its use feels not only practical, but entirely appropriate.
Eschewing the predictable co-branded sweatshirt, the TRON-like design aesthetic seen across this collection felt fresh and innovative, and while it may not be to everyone’s tastes, we thought it was a real winner.