At the end of every year we take the time to look back on how the past 12 months have affected the street fashion scene we know and love. Shortlisted by us, but chosen by our readers, the Highsnobiety Crowns are our way of celebrating the leading forces in our field, and the changing face of our industry. And like last year, the winners will receive special aluminum key trophies designed by Snarkitecture and Highsnobiety.
2017 was an exciting year for fashion retail, both in the physical and digital world. As you’d expect, e-commerce has only gone from strength to strength, but the past year has seen a rapid transformation in the way a lot of people buy and sell their clothes, as some of our nominations below demonstrate.
Back in the world of brick and mortar, a number of leading retailers have carried the torch in creating exciting and compelling physical environments, renovating, revamping, and reinventing, as well as expanding into new spaces or opening new concepts altogether.
With that, here’s how you voted in this year’s Highsnobiety Crowns awards for Best Store, along with one extra Editors’ Choice for each category, chosen by us.
The Best Store of 2017
Bronze – Round Two Hollywood + NYC
With the opening of their second location this year in New York City, home of the likes of Supreme, Alife and Flight Club, and arguably the birthplace of streetwear itself, it was always bound to be a busy year for Round Two. But hey, all that hard work seems to have paid off.
At the heart of it, the Round Two team weren’t doing anything revolutionary. The relatively-underground Unique Hype store on Elizabeth Street in Chinatown has been offering New Yorkers a second chance at copping streetwear grails for quite some time, and the consignment store model has been a tried-and-tested element of the sneaker world for years.
But Round Two made a few subtle tweaks to the framework, taking the grail-level stock of the former and the clean, professional presentation of the latter to give a sophisticated touch to the crazy world of the secondary streetwear market.
Resellers and collectors alike gained a place where they could sell their goods without the hard work of online selling, and buyers had a new, brick-and-mortar location where they could flick through the rails, try things on and walk out of a store with a shopping bag in their hands – an experience which is still important to a lot of us when it comes to buying new gear.
And by the looks of our poll, the store has been well-received by the customer. With the hype machine not looking to slow down anytime soon, we’re sure next year will only be even bigger for the Round Two team.
Silver – colette
Considering 2017 was their final year of operations, it’s hardly surprising that the iconic Parisian store colette pulled out all the stops to cement their status as one of the original concept stores.
They didn’t disappoint, either. Beyond their usual offering of high and low fashion complemented with weird and wonderful pop culture ephemera, this year saw colette playing host to all manner of collaborative in-store pop-up events with the likes of Balenciaga, Thom Browne, Sacai, Chanel and Saint Laurent, each one bringing with it a slew of luxury-branded everyday items, from Balenciaga sleeping masks and travel pillows to Saint Laurent rolling papers.
Ultimately, colette’s final year was a comprehensive demonstration of why they were one of the very best in the industry at creating a comprehensive retail experience from the moment you walk in the door to the moment you leave, regardless of whether you even bought anything.
It’s not surprising that their final year would be a hit with our readers; just like the fundamental philosophy of colette itself, their final year of collaborations offered a little bit of something for everyone. They were just edged out of first place, however, by a store that surely wouldn’t exist were it not for their influence…
Gold – KM20
That’s right. This year, the Highsnobiety Crown for Best Fashion Store goes to the Kuznetsky Most 20 concept store in Moscow, voted for by you. The ambitious and oft-bewildering store undoubtedly takes a few leads from colette, but their Russian locale and harsh, modernist aesthetic has fit perfectly with the prevailing trends of 2017, proving a great success with customers at home, abroad and all across the internet.
The biggest story for KM20 this year was undoubtedly their relocation to a huge, multi-floor space on Pereulok Stoleshnikov, and they didn’t hold any punches in presentation, creating a holistic in-store experience that had the eccentricity of Dover Street Market, the playfulness of colette and the fashion-forward perspective of Machine-A.
Beyond that, a slew of exclusive collaborative releases with the likes of Off-White, Heron Preston, ALYX and Gosha Rubchinskiy demonstrated, quite comfortably, that KM20 has its finger firmly on the pulse of fashion right now.
Their victory over colette for Best Fashion Store in the latter’s final year might seem bittersweet, but in many ways, it’s the best possible result, reassuring us that though one of the originators might be closing its doors for good, there are many others who have studied the model closely, learned the game, and are ready to start the next chapter. Congratulations, KM20.
Editors’ Choice – Grailed
In a year where everything was turned on its head it only makes sense for the Best Store award to go to the place that, well, isn’t a store in some ways. But it’s because of this that Grailed can do something that no “proper” store ever could; offer every fashion brand you could ever think of, all under one roof.
Whether you’re looking for vintage Raf Simons, rare Helmut Lang samples, Kaws collectibles or that one Supreme x Louis Vuitton piece you might actually be able to afford, Grailed has something for everyone, and the fact that all of this is provided by other users means Grailed has really put a spotlight on how vast and diverse the world of modern fashion really is.
The jury’s still out over whether all this exposure has helped to fuel people’s passion to learn more about the history of fashion design, or just applied retroactive hype to vintage pieces that would previously have been well-kept secrets for the fashion world’s intelligentsia, but the fact remains; Grailed has done something that no other platform had gotten right before. And now, someone with a spare $7,000 lying around has the chance to get hold of that Raf Simons A/W’03 Peter Saville parka they’ve always wanted. Come on, that has to count for something.