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.
In 2015, we launched Under the Radar with the aim of shouting out the best new brands to hit us up each month, and the series quickly became one of our most successful recurring features.
Under the Radar has shown us that there’s a mind-blowing amount of talented new brands and designers out there, and even better, the feature is truly global. We’ve highlighted brands from as far away as Brazil, South Africa, Poland, Indonesia, and South Korea, alongside countless collections from all the usual fashion hubs.
Here’s how you voted in this year’s Highsnobiety Crowns awards for Best Under-the-Radar Brand, along with one extra Editors’ Choice, chosen by us.
The Best Under-the-Radar Brand of 2017
Bronze – GFT
Fresh out of Los Angeles, GFT‘s “Sinsanity” collection was one of the strongest U.S. streetwear debuts we’ve seen in some time. The graphic references included Lucy Liu’s character from Kill Bill Vol.1, some trippy canines, and an eye-catching “EXORCISE” logo with abstract prints on the back.
Their latest collection features a recurring chain motif, which adds instant impact to the streetwear staples of shorts and black track pants. Across the board, we think that zips haven’t been utilized in an interesting way for some time, but GFT have made them a valid talking point again with a graphic “skeleton crew” hoodie that sees the zipper run all the way up the hood and down the back of the garment.
Silver – Sundae School
From Seoul/New York comes new smokewear brand Sundae School. Their objective is two-fold, firstly to bring visibility to an underrepresented Asian-American counterculture and secondly, to create some really dope clothes to smoke weed in. Their first collection, titled “Genesis” set a precedent for their innovative design instincts that blends some highfashion concepts — such as a denim jacket with transparent plastic coating — with functional stoner-details such as hats with double-stitched spliff holders at the side.
For their second collection, “When Tigers Used to Smoke” (an old Korean saying that translates to “a very long time ago”) Sundae School channeled the nostalgia of pre-war Seoul by referencing the traditional Korean garb of Hanbok. Their contemporary spin on the traditional garment was conceived in pinstripe denim which they modified with covert pockets and straps to carry spliffs, lighters and the rest.
Gold – Jacob Kane
Jacob Kane is a British designer from Northern England. A welcomed antidote to a slightly crowded London fashion scene, every collection from Jacob Kane’s Manchester studio has been refreshing, immaculately conceived into a lookbook, and of course, totally wearable too. The label’s debut collection, titled “Unite or Perish,” shows an amalgamation of the designer’s interests” including photography, the rise of political tensions from Brexit, Northern art exhibitions, and old issues of ’90s counter-cultural tome, The Face.
Shot in and around a garage with vintage cars, the collection included logo T-shirts, hoodies, patchwork denim jeans with an oversized ring-pull zipper, and as a standout item, a one-of-a-kind parka jacket that fuses grey and technical khaki, mid-blue denim, metal ring pulls, and a detachable faux-fur hood. Also, a big shoutout to the very long-sleeve, oversized oxford shirt which, when styled with Kane’s more street options, is as steezy as you can get.
Editors’ Choice – Domestik
For our Editor’s Choice for the Best Under-the-Radar entry this year, we had to single out one brand from a wealth of emerging talent. It would be remiss not to mention how much we liked the metallic chain motif from GFT, or the webstore design from 1KCORP. However, after some debate, we’re championing what we believe has the tenacity to grow into something really special (while also bringing us back to our streetwear roots), which is why we’ve chosen Indonesian brand, Domestik.
Firstly, what’s not to like about repurposed images of ’80s Indonesian pornos, martial arts and tropical firestorms? In its relatively short lifespan, what Domestik has done so well is tap into the core of what makes streetwear so brilliant: slapping interesting and esoteric graphics onto T-shirts.
Domestik has now traveled over 7,000 miles to be sold at the prestigious Dover Street Market, which is commendable for such a young brand. By drawing attention to the colorful Indonesia-inspired visuals, Domestik is comparable to Gosha Rubchinskiy who effectively put Russia on the map as a go-to aesthetic for styleheads around the world.
In 2018, we’re excited to see what other kind of graphic offerings Domestik can surprise us with, as well as hopefully watch them expand into designing other garments and build on their international presence, possibly turning Indonesia into the next style hotspot.