Ever since cult brands like Palace and Supreme became the gold standard for retailers the world over – brands started asking how they too could get queues around the block or create collections so anticipated they’d need protection from bots. Out of this, marketing departments all seemed to adopt one golden strategy – each gunning for collaborations so shocking that they force you to do a double take. Because it’s that second look that sucks consumers in… and in that moment, they need it.
By now it’s clear that to thrive in modern consumerism, brands are increasingly required to look beyond the singular product they do well and, well, do everything. This year collaborations reached a dizzying peak, with Balenciaga & Gucci coming together for The Hacker Project and Supreme continuing to work their way through the aisles of any given store to collaborate on the most mundane items imaginable. Further proving fashion is no longer bound by category, even luxury retailer SSENSE introduced a new department, where shoppers can shop by “Everything Else” to find anything and everything that can’t otherwise be categorized.
Given the speed at which culture and commerce move these days, it’s easy to forget all that capitalism serves up in a year. So as 2021 comes to a close, we’re here to reflect on the footwear and accessories that had us dropping stacks and/or asking: “Why, though?”
Bottega Veneta BV1086S Sunglasses
While we wait to see how the newly appointed Matthieu Blazy translates the codes of Italian house Bottega Veneta, there’s no doubting that during his now-preceding tenure, Daniel Lee bought the heat to Bottega – particularly to their footwear and accessories.
Case in point, the wildly popular Puddle boot, which has appeared in countless Instagram posts since its debut in late 2020. For 2021, the style got updated in new colorways, as well as the introduction of both a sandal style and knee-high length boot that equally made their mark on @newbottega devotees worldwide. Plus, there were a bunch of sunglass silhouettes. Take the BV1086S sunglasses for example. Seen on everyone from A$AP Ferg to Kevin Abstract, this style was another Instagram favorite and was easily one of this year's must-cops.
Elsewhere in Italian luxury, 2021 saw Raf Simons-era Prada start to roll out pieces from its Fall 2021 Menswear show. Among them, the Napa leather gloves complete with what feels like a very signature Raf motif, in an attached triangular pouch that gives new dimension to the shape of Prada’s iconic logo.
Available so far in black, orange, and purple and perfect for storing, I don’t know, your subway card? As the Northern Hemisphere embraces cooler weather over the next few months, we’re expecting these to become a prominent accessory as fast as the Prada Bucket challenge took over TikTok.
Jacquemus x VanMoof
With a hefty celebrity following, perhaps the most notable being Frank Ocean, VanMoof is here to redefine urban mobility. Their eclectic bikes are undoubtedly at the top of many holiday wish lists this year, and this timely collaboration with Jacquemus is surely no exception – though you’ll have to work a miracle to track one down.
Released alongside the brand's recent Pink2 capsule collection and night shop in Paris, the bike shares its DNA with VanMoof’s S3 model which is supercharged with next-gen innovation. As we increasingly turn our attention to exploring ways of reducing our carbon footprint and clawing back at climate change – we’re lucky to have brands like VanMoof creating products that allow us to do it in style.
Up next is a range of glasses by Balenciaga. And no, we're not talking about the LED Frame Sunglasses, which do deserve an honorable mention. Instead, I’m referring to the wine and champagne glasses released as part of Balenciaga’s Objects collection. Because as alluded to in the intro, everyone does everything, and so of course Balenciaga has an objects line.
Regardless, we're so here for the elevated home goods movement. Crafted from white crystal and finished with platinum silver rims, the glasses (which come as a set of 2) also boast an engraved Balenciaga logo, which will look great on your Instagram come New Year’s Eve.
The culture is constantly starved for Frank Ocean. Whether it’s new music or merch, we eat it up. And we’d been waiting a minute for the latest offering from one of contemporary culture’s most ominous stars. But 2021 served up something left of field from Frank Ocean, who made it a little too easy to obsess over his latest venture.
Enter Homer; an independent American luxury brand. Launching to much fanfare mid-year, with a printed catalog and storefront in New York’s Chinatown district, where those that were able to secure an appointment could discover a vast range of jewelry and accessories designed by Ocean and his team. The collection includes silk scarves, pendants complete with lab grown diamonds, and a limited run Prada collab featuring a version of Frank’s beloved anorak.
Supreme x Tiffany & Co.
By now we’ve come to expect big things in the accessories lineup each season from Supreme. The brand that reinvented the shock factor always has something up its sleeve, and the current season has served up one of its best yet with its Tiffany & Co. collaboration.
Post LVMH acquisition, the iconic jewelry brand has borrowed from the codes of streetwear and drop culture – rolling out guerrilla marketing and even bringing in Daniel Arsham to go after a younger shopper. The Supreme x Tiffany collab titled “The Return To Tiffany” reimagines a collection first released in the 1960s and features a range of blinged out jewels and accessories. From pearl and pendant necklaces to heart tag stud earrings, a pocket knife, and Supreme’s box logo tee in Tiffany blue – Tiffany & Co. are proving once again that in 2021, this is certainly not your mother’s Tiffany.
Rimowa’s Essential Neon
On the back of their iconic 2018 collaboration with Off-White™ , luxury luggage brand Rimowa came back this year with a new take on translucent luggage – debuting a range of cabin suitcases and phone covers in pink and lime just in time for the world to start traveling again.
Perfect for traveling to Paris Fashion Week and giving the ‘gram just a hint of the fits you’ve cooked up or for transporting your prized sneaker collection, this luggage is for those who never miss a moment to flex. And while the fun-colored hues might slightly distract the attention of fellow travelers, there’s absolutely no hiding from TSA with these.
Danish home goods designers Tekla know a thing or two about comfort and aesthetics. Their sheets, towels, blankets and sleepwear are super luxurious and perfect for melting into after a long day of work or lounging around during lockdowns.
And sure, regular fresh sheets feel great – but imagine going to bed in this ultra-cozy collab. Teaming up with streetwear brand Stüssy earlier in the year, Tekla released a range of bedding, towels, and loungewear inspired by Stüssy’s Californian coastal heritage and seemingly designed for the ultimate commute from bed to the beach.
Category disruption is exciting, because it pushes brands to completely rethink and redesign products that we’ve come to love. So with Apple having dominated the audio tech market since the introduction of their AirPods, it’s cool to see a new brand like Nothing come in and cause a stir amongst consumers.
Launched in July via a blind drop on StockX, the first release of Nothing’s Ear (1) headphones were sold to the 100 highest bids at their respective bid prices. Since then, Nothing has continued to sell out of the weekly releases via their website. No wonder. Nothing’s Ear (1) are transparent in design, boast a solid audio range and, like AirPods, feature active noise cancellation and transparency modes – all for $99. I’m listening!
Gentle Monster x Heron Preston
Part LVMH-owned, Korean eyewear brand, Gentle Monster is an interesting case study as far as contemporary retail and brand partnerships go. Previous collabs have included AMBUSH, Hood By Air, and Marine Serre – all of which released to ample hype.
The most recent came from revered streetwear designer Heron Preston, who earlier in the year dropped his debut collection as Creative Consultant for Calvin Klein. The rectangular silhouette released in three colorways included detail on each arm that loaned Preston’s signature brand codes to the otherwise classic design, where one side featured Preston’s bold orange branding and the other embedded with a spirit level that took cues from a pair of the designer's women's boots and gave new meaning to seeing straight.
Telfar x UGG
UGG has been killing it for a minute now. Whether it’s a campaign featuring Dennis Rodman and Evan Mock by RAYSCORRUPTEDMIND or their previous collaborations with the likes of Y-Project and Eckhaus Latta – UGG really knows how to navigate collaborations in a way that injects further cultural cred to the already iconic brand.
And this latest partnership with Telfar is case in point. By fusing the Telfar shopper with UGG’s fleece and merging two iconic brand codes, the collaboration delivers a range of products that speaks to nostalgia. After teasing the collaboration during global lockdowns last year, 2021 saw the collection arrive to equal fanfare. With underwear and apparel rounding out the release, this collab emulates the ultimate coziness and arms you with some of those WFH vibes to take out into the world with you.
A fashion brand spawned from an Instagram curation isn’t exactly a new concept. To date, pages like JJJound and Sporty & Rich have found success converting their aesthetics into tangible brands. The latest, though, is HIDDEN, a New York-based curator with just shy of 700k followers and rolling out endless gems of content including streetwear deep cuts, hyped new releases and a bunch of ultimate grails.
Now, the curated Instagram page turned brand that boasts fans like Lil Yachty and Daniel Arsham, releases monthly drops of apparel and accessories that sell out almost instantly. The most coveted pieces tend to be the socks, which sell for $14 and fetch up to $50 on aftermarket platforms like StockX.
Off-White™ x Pioneer DDJ-1000-OW
It wouldn’t be an accessories round-up without a shout-out to the design and collaboration genius himself, the late Virgil Abloh. After ushering in an entirely new definition to multi-hyphenate, Virgil’s vast cultural acumen saw him DJing in New York one day to showing at Paris fashion week the next.
With a career full of collaborations and co-signs under his belt, we're certain the DDJ-1000-OW with Pioneer would have been one of V’s proudest outputs, where the fluorescent orange and matte white asymmetrical colors are noticeably Abloh. Available back in July in limited quantities, many of those who were able to get their hands on these probably kickstarted their own DJ careers after being inspired by the man himself.
Speaking of bags this year, bigger was better. After the micro bag trend from previous years reduced handbags to sizes so small they just couldn’t shrink any smaller, designers moved towards completely opposite proportions.
Designers like Mowalola and Heaven, who both have Gen Z eating out of the palm of their hands, introduced dramatically oversized bags. Then there’s Telfar (whose large bag in their words “fits a long weekend”) have had to establish a Bag Security Program to combat bots due to the popularity of their iconic Shopping Bag.
Clearly fueled by us becoming accustomed to face mask requirements and the fashion set looking for ways to elevate their face covering game, balaclavas are having quite the moment in fashion. Of course Kanye is a fan (and has been since the Yeezus days), and Kim’s face was completely covered in Balenciaga at this years Met Gala.
Elsewhere, Miuccia Prada’s more playful and ultra feminine line, Miu Miu, introduced an adorable take at their FW21 show. Their crochet and wool helmets are inspired by mountaineering accessories and protective gear – reimagined as protective headwear, which are 100% giving Miss Muffet.
Dior x Technogym
Who asked for this? Made for 1% of the 1%, Dior’s partnership with Technogym is for the wealthy hype moms of the world. The collection includes a treadmill, a multipurpose weights bench, and a wellness ball – all adorned with the striped motif featured in Dior’s 2022 Cruise collection.
If you are keen to turn your home gym into a shrine to Christian Dior in time for your New Year’s resolutions, this range of collaborative fitness products is set to hit stores in January 2022.
Ye’s Donda Merch
As far as merch goes, Kanye West never misses an opportunity to make bank. And this year, Ye’s merch leveled up when it got an “Engineered by Balenciaga” co-sign for both the release of Donda and then again at the Free Larry Hoover event in LA.
But while his merch apparel generally slaps – our boy Ye shook things up this year with the release of the (aforementioned) balaclava and tactical vest as part of the Donda promo – to be honest, the tactical vest feels a few seasons too late when it comes to accessories. But take the fact that the exact one signed and worn by Kanye himself just sold for $75k at Christie’s “Handbags x HYPE” auction, you can’t deny the hype Ye commands.
Vetements Hug Me Bear Slippers
We're secretly into these, but for most this would be a sure WTF. The Vetements Hug Me Bear slipper looks like the comfiest thing you could ever wrap your feet in for a grocery run or, if you’re Kid Cudi, to wear to the red carpet premiere of Netflix’s Don’t Look Up.
Vetements are known for making meme-fueling fashion and accessories, so they’re fully aware that products like these will divide the fashion set. And while these might be giving amusement park gift shop, I’m sure no one would be surprised to learn that they’re completely sold out. And with a price tag north of $2k, we might add.
The white space between the fashion and gaming worlds is closing in quickly. So far, we’ve seen Balenciaga release a much hyped Fortnite collaboration before announcing they were setting up an entire marketing division dedicated to the metaverse. And fellow Kering-brand Gucci has been in on the action for a minute now too, who earlier in the year entered the metaverse to release the Dionysus handbag on the gaming platform Roblox.
It was a recent Twitter exchange between Gucci and Xbox that unveiled the brand’s newest play to the gaming community and simultaneously gave fresh perspective to ‘GG’ by merging the Gucci monogram with gaming phrase “good game.” What followed was a co-branded Xbox capsule including a monogrammed Xbox case emblazoned with "GOOD GAME," that houses a Gucci monogrammed console and matching controllers. There’ll be a few gamers begrudgingly headed home for the holidays with one of these in tow.
Gucci’s Love Parade Jewelry
Fashion brands have long flirted with sexual aesthetics, to which Gucci is no stranger. There was of course the very sexually charged Tom Ford for Gucci era, and then Alessandro Michele’s leather jockstrap for their Spring 19 Men’s collection among other examples.
Though for SS22, Gucci is really amping up the kink. At the Italian house’s runway show down Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, the most shocking thing wasn’t Macaulay Culkin’s runway walk but the jewelry worn by the models who were accessorized with butt plug pendants, anal beads and vaginal beads. Now not to yuck anyone’s yum, but who is wearing these and where?
Chrome Hearts Condiments
Chrome Hearts’ accessories are often referred to as oddities, and that pretty much sums this one up. On one hand, the brand’s collection of barbeque accessories which launched mid-year in tribute to co-founder Laurie Lynn Stark’s father – is a lovely tribute to a family man that loved getting behind the grill.
Complete with cutting boards, a carving knife, stainless steel BBQ fork, tongs, and spatula, there’s probably a niche group of cashed up grill enthusiasts who’d love the flex this at their annual family cookout. But it’s the last item in the capsule that’s got us scratching our heads: the iconic American ketchup and mustard bottles have been reimagined with ornately engraved sterling silver caps. Why, though?
Supreme x Sea-Doo Spark TRIXX
Complete with a Rotax 900 Ace 90 horsepower engine (whatever that means) and a 50 watt waterproof Bluetooth sound system, Supreme have really outdone themselves when it comes to WTF moments with the release of this one. Which is a pretty big call for a brand that single-handedly ushered in this world of extreme collaboration and branded objects.
Part of their SS21 accessories lineup, the Supreme branded Spark TRIXX is a legit piece of machinery. Decked out with an all over decal of Supreme stickers and the brand’s iconic script logo across the 2-seater cushion, there’s no doubt that this is one accessory that made waves this year.
Fendi’s Table Tennis Bags
First shown as part of their SS22 runway presentation, Fendi presented a pair of accessories dedicated to housing the wearer's table tennis equipment. Yes, for those looking to travel to the table tennis courts in style, Fendi has you covered. There’s both a crossbody carrier crafted solely for your bat as well as the house’s iconic Peekaboo bag, reimagined complete with external storage for your bat and balls.
Elsewhere on the same runway, the collection included a swimming cap and goggles with swim brand Arena, which sorry, just feels lazy given Supreme’s collaboration of exactly the same products with Speedo last year. The Fendi x Skims collab was a home run though, so there’s that.
Rimowa’s One Bottle Case
File this in your memory for next time someone asks “What do I get the person who has everything?”. Crafted from Rimowa’s signature aluminium, the extremely specific vessel fits just one bottle of the beholder’s chosen champagne or liquor.
Complete with an adjustable microfiber foam cushion system, the case not only provides a study home for a singular bottle but it’s also designed to maintain the perfect level of coldness. So rest assured, owners of such carry cases will turn up to their next picnic or dinner party with the goods both secure and at optimum temperature for immediate enjoyment.
Balenciaga’s Hooded Travel Pillow
To round us out, is another entry from Balenciaga’s objects line. Putting the airport kiosk equivalent to shame, Balenciaga’s travel pillow is made from a medium fleece cotton and comes with a hood and snap closure so you can really block out fellow travelers on your next trip from A to B.
It’s worth noting that this accessory is completely free of any logos or branding – so the flex that comes with this one is truly a case of IYKYK. And to everyone else, they’d laugh in your face if they were to learn you’d paid over 6 bills for a travel pillow.