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.
Browse all the categories right here, or scroll down to read the entire shortlist.
When you’re done, take a look at last year’s results.
While KITH is a veritable temple for streetwear and sneaker aficionados from across New York (and the World), those living outside Manhattan have always been forced to make the pilgrimage to Broadway to get their fix of fresh gear. KITH Brooklyn, which launched this Fall, set out to change all that, signalling Ronnie Fieg’s biggest and most ambitious retail project yet.
Rare sneakers of all shapes and sizes, fashion from across the streetwear spectrum (including KITH’s own exclusive product), and an in-store cereal bar, not to mention those signature Snarkitecture-designed AJ1s hanging from the ceiling — it’s a unique mix of the serious and not-so-serious, which works like a (Lucky) charm.
While “lifestyle stores” have long been the norm within other sub-sections of fashion, they’re slightly rarer in the world of streetwear. KITH Brooklyn has managed to provide a full retail experience for the more discerning sneakerhead, and it has done so in a manner that feels authentic and true to Ronnie’s vision.
There’s an innate stylishness to pretty much everything Totokaelo does. Their stores look incredible, their styling is impeccable, and their editorials are amongst the best in the e-commerce market.
What’s more, the clothing they carry manages to push more avant-garde styles and labels in a manner that makes them seem completely wearable in an everyday context. There aren’t many who could put Saturdays NYC and Rick Owens beside each other and make it seem natural, but Totokaelo pulls it off completely.
September saw the Seattle-born store open its second location, this time in New York city (a natural fit if ever there was one). The breathtaking wood-accented space sprawls over five stories in Soho, and an intensely calming atmosphere pervades everything about it — from the dedicated “white” and “black” rooms, to the serene roof terrace on top. A true masterclass in retail zen.
a number of names* has been a successful PR and distribution agency for years now, but 2015 was the year they translated their experience into a London-based retail venture. The fact they chose the same site as the old BAPE Store (one of anon*’s earliest clients) felt thoroughly appropriate.
The brand selection inside the store is a mix of labels on anon*’s own roster — brands like Bedwin and the Heartbreakers, Human Made and Kinfolk —as well as others, like La Rocka and Midnight Studios. What makes this selection work, however, isn’t so much any of the brands on its own, but the clear sense of continuity that runs across them all.
In essence, anon* feels like the very literal embodiment of founder Craig Ford’s own life. The clothing draws heavily on the predominant trends of the flannels and graphic tees of the ’90s — the era Ford first began working in the industry — and the store is littered with references to left-wing politics and punk iconography. If you share his vision, then it’s an absolute delight.
The landscape of European streetwear would likely look very different today were it not for Italy’s Slam Jam. This year the distributer-turned-retailer celebrated its 25th anniversary, which saw them host a string of events at their three retail locations in the north of the country, as well as collaborate on impressive collections with Carhartt and UNDFTD.
But what makes Slam Jam truly special as a retail experience is their ability to mix high-end fashion with street style – something they were doing long before many of their competitors had begun to execute a similar aesthetic vision.
From Stüssy to Gosha Rubchinskiy to Visvim, Slam Jam’s discerning eye and access to the world’s top brands is enough to make any buyer jealous. And, 11 years on from their first store launch, they continue to be true leaders in their field.
424 on Fairfax
424 on Fairfax has carved a niche somewhere between hip-hop and high fashion in recent years, pushing some of the world’s most exciting young designers while feeding rap’s evolving stylistic zeitgeist. The store, located on Fairfax Ave. along with some of fashion’s biggest boutiques, stocks the likes of Astrid Andersen, Henrik Vibskov, Cottweiler and Wil Fry, alongside a whole host of smaller upcoming names, resulting in a brand mix which is anything but your average.
On top of that, this year has seen 424’s stellar in-house collection go from strength to strength, standing shoulder to shoulder with many of the far more established names they carry in-store. Clearly, the team involved have a clear and exacting vision — one which feels very much unique to them. That should always be applauded.
The Broken Arm
As we mentioned earlier, part of what makes a really great store is both a clear, joined-up vision of the product it carries along with the customer who’s buying it. Much in the same vein as anon* (although for an entirely different market altogether), The Broken Arm has that nailed.
Catering to a crowd that’s completely comfortable with the more awkward end of top-tier fashion, The Broken Arm is a place to find billowing wide-legged trousers nestled against shaggy mohair jumpers, impractically oversized coats and inflated, tent-like outerwear. What’s more, their close relationship with brands like Raf Simons, Gosha Rubchinskiy and Vetements means you’ll find a much larger offering from those names here than in many other rival stores.
That’s a pretty good basis for any store to build a reputation on, but what pushes The Broken Arm beyond its competitors is the culture it has fostered around it. The store’s creative team has produced some amazing fashion editorials this year, while the hugely popular in-house café serves up a high-brow take on classic lunch to a revolving gallery of Paris’ best-dressed faces. And, in true Parisian style, that makes browsing the people every bit as interesting as the fashion itself.
Distributors crossing over into the retail game is a fairly common phenomenon in fashion (just take a look at this list!), but stylists making the same jump happens far less often. That said, so strong was the sartorial reputation of Taiwanese brothers Steve, Michael and Richard Hsieh, that founding their own store seemed like the only logical step to take.
As you’d expect from three people with such a confident aesthetic eye, everything about Ne.Sense is a pleasure to behold. The store itself is an achingly chic medley of bare concrete, gnarled wood and oxidised steel. The selection of clothing adheres to a strictly muted palette, and includes well-known names like Filling Pieces, Fear Of God and Our Legacy alongside more discerning choices like Chapter, Berthold and Song For The Mute. Meanwhile, their seemingly never-ending stream of in-house fashion editorials would put most major magazines to shame.
While Seoul and Tokyo have long been recognised as East Asia’s premier fashion destinations, Ne.Sense has earned some very valid recognition for the burgeoning scene in Taipei. If next year is anywhere near as strong as 2015 for them, they could be on to something very big indeed.
the POOL shinjuku
Some things in life drag on and on and on. Others are short and sweet. Last year, we gave our Editor’s Choice award to Hiroshi Fujiwara’s the POOL aoyama. This year, for one week only, he followed it up with a spin-off in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district.
What made the original POOL store so brilliant were two things: firstly, its product selection, which consists entirely of unique collaborations and products produced especially for the POOL and available only at this store. As a concept, that’s a winning idea in itself.
What makes the POOL even more special, however, is the extent to which it runs with its branding. The original location is set in an abandoned residential swimming baths, paved with glass to imitate the water. Continuing the theme this year, the POOL shinjuku based its entire product offering around pool (the game), serving up a dizzying array of super exclusive product from the likes of Stüssy, Nike, Playboy, retaW, and Fujiwara’s own Fragment Design. The only difference was that this time it was even more exclusive, being on sale for just 7 days…
Obviously a retail model like this is entirely impractical and only serves a very select handful of customers. But then, that’s entirely the point. If you managed to cop anything from the 2015 POOL’s range, you can consider it one gigantic badge of honor.
This year has seen more eyes on Russia than during the Cold War — although this time the curiosity is of a wholly different nature. For many, the old stereotypes of the Soviet era still linger, while others see the country as a place drowning in a sea of oligarch-funded fur and diamonds. In between these two extremes, however, there exists a few important players trying to push a more progressive agenda.
KM20 (or Kuznetsky Most 20, to give it its full name) is a fashion store to rival the best in the world. In fact, with little competition in the city, its brand list actually leaves most equivalent stores in the dust. Hood By Air, COMME des GARÇONS, J.W. Anderson, Maison Margiela, Raf Simons, Lemaire, Agi & Sam, Études Studio, Nasir Mazhar, Christopher Kane, YEEZY and of course the obligatory Gosha Rubchinskiy & Tigran Avetisyan are just a selection of the labels it carries…
More than this, however, KM20 also boasts one of Moscow’s premier vegetarian eateries, where guests can enjoy a mouthwatering selection of artisanal juices and “vegetable-forward” cuisine — not exactly something you’d expect to find easily in a country like Russia. Then again, that’s just another thing that makes KM20 special.
These days, running a really top level store is only half about your choice of product. Although, if it were, RSVP Gallery has most places beat. With a brand list as thick as a phonebook that reads like a who’s who of street fashion celebrity labels, RSVP gets maximum points for its commitment to keeping up with the changing face of cool. And, in many ways, shaping it too.
However, the other major part of building an industry-leading retail operation is image. And, yet again, RSVP has that one well and truly covered. Able to command exclusive collaborations from the very best brands in the business, hosting regular high profile in-store events and exhibitions, not to mention frequent drop-ins from some of America’s biggest musicians and celebrities, there’s is a party everyone wants to attend.
Everyone from Kanye to Pharrell, Travis Scott, The Weeknd and Kid Cudi shop here. Hardly surprising, though, when you think it was founded by Don C and Virgil Abloh…
- Words: AJ Gwilliam & Calum Gordon