The Highsnobiety 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.
2016’s prize was a $2,000 shopping spree courtesy of luxury shopping destination MATCHESFASHION.COM. Stay posted for more information on the 2017 Crowns later this year.
Winners: The Best Store of 2016
Bronze – Grailed
Captained by entrepreneur Arun Gupta and former Four Pins editor Lawrence Schlossman, Grailed secured third place in the “Best Store of 2016” category. Hosting flash sales like “The Drop” and “Grailed 100,” the site locked down its reputation as a go-to source for the world’s most coveted fashion items from past and present, including late ’90s Supreme box logo T-shirts, and impossible-to-find couture from a wide range of labels. In short, Grailed has proven itself as more than just a retailer, but a resource for education.
Silver – Kanye West “Pablo” Pop-Up Shops
Kanye West’s “Pablo” pop-up shops took second place, separated from third place by a mere 61 votes. Purveying merchandise that was designed in partnership with Canadian designer Cali Thornhill DeWitt, and executed across the globe with the help of merchandise firm Bravado, West’s Pablo concert merchandise literally popped up everywhere from Chicago to Cape Town, giving kids an affordable alternative to the pricy YEEZY Season line with adidas Originals.
Gold – KITH
First place winner Ronnie Fieg wasn’t shy about his ambitions to take KITH to another level in 2016. Most notably, Fieg expanded further outside of his home of New York City, opening outposts in Miami and even winter destination Aspen in Colorado. You might have also caught word of the KITHLAND presentation at New York Fashion Week, and KITH’s numerous collaborative projects with the likes of Cap’N’Crunch, Rugrats, and other names like BAPE, adidas and Nike. These efforts kept KITH and Ronnie on the front page of our website all year, and also on the tip of our tongues.
Editor’s Choice – Facebook
Anyone that posted a WTB or inquired about a legit check this year will know that Facebook is fostering some of the most closely-knit communities in sneaker and streetwear culture. As we mentioned in the voting phase, groups like Yeezy Talk Worldwide and Supreme Talk are likely the two best examples, both of which are frequented by members of the Highsnobiety editorial staff. These Facebook pages seem to be filling the void left with the decline of the popular forums that cropped up when streetwear was in its infancy.
Simply put, if you strike out on a Supreme or YEEZY drop, Facebook is the place to go, however, these groups are not only great resources for buying and selling, but also learning and networking.
THE PARK-ING GINZA
Spanning two floors of a parkade near the famous Sukiyabashi intersection in Tokyo, THE PARK-ING GINZA opened in March, marking Hiroshi Fujiwara’s newest foray into retail after his POOL location in Aoyama, which ranked on our Crowns shortlist in 2014.
Fleshing out the retail buildout, the space was home to a dedicated bonjour records section and an eatery named Café de Ropé, serving a menu of gourmet toast, bite-sized sandwiches and cake. In addition to a rotating array of pop-up installations from C.E., Nike, sacai and UNDERCOVER, to name a few, Motofumi “Poggy” Kogi also lent his curation skills to the Poggy’s Box space, which offered a specially curated selection of limited edition items like caps, T-shirts and accessories.
Aiming to exceed the expectations of any visitor, THE PARK-ING GINZA is a veritable treasure trove of streetwear rarities that would make any Japanophile twitch with excitement.
This year, Grailed became an indispensable shopping and mobile app for many of us. Through the year, the site issued up curated collections offering some of the world’s most coveted fashion items from past and present, like late ’90s Supreme box logo T-shirts, and impossible-to-find highlight pieces from the likes of Helmut Lang and Issey Miyake. For the first time, these flash sales like “The Drop” and “Grailed 100” carved out a unique taste and benchmark for the website, unearthing gear that would be a massive challenge to find anywhere else.
With entrepreneur Arun Gupta at the helm, aided by former Four Pins editor Lawrence Schlossman, Grailed has truly been living up to its name, evolving from just another eBay alternative into a truly vital online platform with a passionate community behind it. A renewed focus on editorial content has also worked strongly to the advantage of Grailed, which has proven itself as a valuable source for both shopping, selling and education.
Facebook wasn’t created as a platform to buy and sell goods, but it has certainly been refashioned to accommodate shopping functionality in recent times, in some ways filling the gap that was left with the downfall of internet forums.
Striking out on release day is very often a maddening reality, and many of us are forced to turn to secondary marketplaces like YEEZY Talk Worldwide (the go-to source for everything Kanyeezy, which even expanded to create its own merch line), or Supreme Talk, among other sneaker and streetwear-dedicated groups that facilitate buying, reselling, proxy purchasing and asking whatever ridiculous questions you feel like.
Native reselling etiquette and vernacular have developed over time on Facebook, and these thriving communities are only growing by the day. While local channels catering to different specific cities also exist, other Facebook groups aptly bring streetwear fans together from all over the globe to share their common interests.
In 2016, New York’s VFILES continued to take one of the most forward-thinking stances in fashion, challenging the role of a retailer. The Mercer Street outpost had a big year; not only launching a print magazine curated by its own online community and anchoring pop-up events with the likes of Justin Bieber and PARTYNEXTDOOR, but VFILES was also responsible for styling Young Thug’s seminal JEFFERY cover, on which the gender-bending Atlanta rapper dons a ruffled, light blue dress by Italian designer Alessandro Trincone.
Trincone was discovered through VFILES crowdsourced runway show, which again and again is touted as one of the only genuinely interesting moments during New York Fashion Week. The shop’s most recent SS17 show was even mentored by Thugger, Fear of God’s Jerry Lorenzo and supermodel Naomi Campbell.
Currently, VFILES founder Julie Anne Quay is highlighting community above and beyond any other of its competitors, and the shop isn’t afraid to break the mold through extracurricular projects and delve into territory that other retailers may steer clear of.
2016 was a busy year for KITH, the Ronnie Fieg-powered shop that repeatedly reminds us of its influence among younger fans of the culture. In fact, hardly a week or two will pass during which Fieg and KITH don’t appear on the e-pages of Highsnobiety.
Whether you were a fan or not, KITH postulated its staying power by putting pen to paper with some of the biggest trademarks in pop culture like the Power Rangers, Rugrats and Cap’N’Crunch, a first for anyone in the streetwear sphere.
Fieg also hosted KITHLAND at New York Fashion Week, a large-scale presentation that included 90 styled looks as well as performances from Fabolous and others, all attended by a who’s-who guestlist that included Bella Hadid, Nick Wooster, as well as Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow of Public School to call out a few.
KITH’s eponymous clothing label also continued to flourish within core streetwear circles, bringing on collaborative partners like colette, adidas Consortium, Nike, New Era and others, even BAPE for the Fiegsta, a new take on the Bapesta sneaker.
The label’s mainline honed further on cut and sew collections, with strong denim and outerwear programs in the mix. Not only that, but Fieg made a hard push into womenswear and even unveiled a Kidset line for children.
Ejder is perhaps the biggest retail force driving youth culture in London. Founder Simon Suphandagli conceived Ejder as a humble blog, before the platform become e-commerce oriented, dealing in cutting-edge street, rebellious and progressive fashion.
The shop’s brand list is a honed reflection of contemporary tastes, housing names like MR COMPLETELY, Ne.Sense, MISBHV and M+RC NOIR, offerings that Highsnobiety has lensed more than once this year in our original fashion editorials.
Earlier in the year, Ejder launched a 24-Hour EJDER Club concept store, located in London’s Old Street underground train station. The buzzing London boutique has fast become one of the English capital’s hottest names, bottom line.
A mainstay within the iconic Fairfax streetwear village in Los Angeles, Guillermo Andrade‘s FourTwoFour has once again been on the tip of many tongues for the duration of the year, gaining repute far outside the neighborhood where the brick and mortar stands.
Bolstered by one of the strongest brand lists in the city, offerings cover the likes of MISBHV, Sever, CMMN SWDM and more, FourTwoFour also secured several smart partnerships with the likes of upcoming brand MR COMPLETELY as well as Moscow-based boutique KM20.
A certain forbearer of the predominant distressing trend, FourTwoFour’s in-house line brought us several compelling collections this year, not limited to a collaboration with Taiwanese retailer Ne.Sense, a partnership with Storm Copenhagen, and an acclaimed FW16 range titled “Oil Money.” The line sells out time after time, and has seen support from the likes of Post Malone, Kylie Jenner and others.
Kanye West “Pablo” Pop-Ups
If you’re Kanye West, selling $1 million out of a single pop-up location in one weekend is just a lay-up. Apparently even to duplicate that feat on a global scale with 21 pop-up shops around the world is not challenge enough.
Imagined in partnership with Canadian designer Cali Thornhill DeWitt, and executed with the help of merchandise firm Bravado, West’s Pablo concert merchandise salvo swept through the streetwear world this year, and pop-up stores from Chicago to Cape Town were a key vehicle for this apparel rollout.
Printed on bulk blank shirts (with the Gildan tag left intact), nonbelievers were quick to criticize the considerable markups, while Yeezus disciples paid no mind whatsoever, lining up in orderly fashion around the planet at the chance to cop.
Although some debated whether the pricy merch basics were worth the money and effort, demand remained high through the year, and most pieces from the collection were reselling for easily a 100% markup. It’s more than fair to credit the Pablo gear with creating a bigger market for merch that was quickly filled by Justin Bieber, Rihanna and others, whose gear was printed with a rather familiar Gothic font.
Dover Street Market Haymarket
Dover Street Market moved off its namesake street in London’s Mayfair district this year, now occupying a new 31,000 square-foot space in Haymarket that was first shot through the lens of Gosha Rubchinskiy in March. Much like the original location, the new DSM features elaborate and extraordinary installations throughout the multi-story complex, which features dedicated buildouts from a wide range of DSM partners like Rick Owens, Vetements, and Gosha Rubchinskiy, as well as local designers like Margaret Howell, J.W. Anderson and many more.
Additional highlights include a sneaker space filled to the brim with limited kicks, and a basement area for NikeLab products. This year, DSM’s power couple operators Adrian Joffe and Rei Kawakubo stayed on the pulse of contemporary fashion by putting their heads together on exclusive partnerships with NOAH, Gosha Rubchinskiy, Vans and Pleasure, among many others.
Slam Jam Milan
Nobody in Italy knows streetwear and sneaker culture better than Slam Jam. Founded by Luca Benini in 1989, the retailer, distributor and creative agency easily holds its own on a local European scale, but made big moves into the global spotlight this year.
In addition to keeping sneaker collaborations on-point – partnering with ASICS, adidas and others – Slam Jam also offers an exclusive Red Label collection from The North Face, a well-deserved honor that other retailers would more than happily lock antlers over.
Toward the later part of 2016, Slam Jam also opened up a brand new Milan space, and shortly after hosted a VLONE pop-up shop with A$AP Bari, as well as a second pop-up for Justin Bieber’s fashionable Purpose merch.
- Illustrations: Yu Nagaba