As this year winds down, we’ve recapped its highlights to bring you the best of 2018 in fashion, sneakers, music, movies, and more.
This year, sports and style overlapped more than ever. While sportswear and streetwear have always enjoyed a symbiotic relationship, 2018 saw streetwear push into the performance aspect of professional sports, in addition to sportswear brands appealing to the street, as is much more common.
This came in the form of big-name collaborations, such as Palace Skateboards’ Wimbledon collection for adidas Tennis, which saw athletic performance product being adopted by the community on the back of Palace's street cred. Of course, people have been wearing performance sportswear as fashion forever, but it still highlighted how the gap between streetwear and performance sportswear is getting smaller.
On the collaboration front, many different strategies were implemented, some more effectively than others.
Most recently, and away from the street, luxury footwear brand Giuseppe Zanotti tapped NBA star P.J. Tucker to collaborate on the Italian label’s new Urchin sneaker. Houston Rocket Tucker, a professional athlete with an affinity for hard-to-come-by kicks, had no training as a designer but was still given the opportunity to put his spin on a high-fashion shoe because Zanotti, like many other brands, recognized the mass appeal of athletic heroes.
Similarly, Nike's Jordan Brand diversified by working with French football club Paris Saint-Germain on an on- and off-pitch range crowned by two retro Air Jordan models that were modeled by star players Neymar and Kylian Mbappé. PSG also wore special Jordan Brand jerseys in the Champions League.
Wunderkind Mbappé was at the center of streetwear’s love affair with football, chosen as the poster boy of both the PSG x Jordan collaboration and Nike's Virgil Abloh-designed World Cup capsule. Abloh's collection included a pair of Mercurial 360 football boots, which Mbappé wore in PSG's match against AS Monaco in March.
Nike wasn’t the only brand to blur the lines between streetwear and performance. adidas took its partnership with EA Sports to the next level by bringing previously in-game FIFA jerseys to life, releasing a limited run of Manchester United, Juventus, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich kits. These kits were never intended to be worn on the pitch, but rather were released to take advantage of the trend for wearing football jerseys as fashion.
Elsewhere in football, we had genuine on-field products getting adopted by the streetwear community. In the run-up to this year's World Cup in Russia, everyone became obsessed with Nigeria’s home jersey, which flipped the script with a neon, almost volt, green hue last seen on the country's World Cup 2002 jersey.
The shirts sold out almost immediately and, unsurprisingly, were reselling for absurd amounts online, with Nike unable to keep up with demand.
As mentioned, one of the year's most memorable streetwear/sports crossovers was the Palace x adidas Tennis Wimbledon collab. What made the collection all the more fascinating was seeing a brand as irreverent as Palace rocking up at SW19. Wimbledon is the byword for stuffy, traditionalist elitism in sport, requiring all participants to wear primarily white uniforms. For a brand as brash and loud as Palace to be involved, and to see Angelique Kerber winning the tournament in Palace-branded garms, was huge.
The NBA also played a large part this year, collaborating with Supreme on a logo-heavy collection of Nike Air Force 1 Mids, jerseys, and shooting sleeves, the latter of which were famously worn on court by the likes of J.R. Smith and Kelly Oubre Jr. (on his leg, no less). While NBA logos have a special place in streetwear history, a Supreme co-sign is nothing to scoff at, especially when the gear is worn in-game and your Supreme tattoo can result in NBA fines.
Jerry Lorenzo also tapped into basketball culture with his new Nike Air Fear of God 1 sneaker, which, as fashion-forward as it looks, is actually designed to Nike Basketball performance specifications. P.J. Tucker has already debuted the sneaker on court in an NBA game against the Brooklyn Nets, confirming its performance capabilities.
Similarly, Kanye West is trying to get in on the basketball action. Slated to drop in 2019, his mooted YEEZY Basketball sneaker has been teased and much talked about, although it remains unclear when or whether it will actually be released.
A lot of different approaches, some highly sought-after collaborations, and overall a year to build on for sports and streetwear, with plenty of untapped potential left. While every brand will have its own plans for the future, the trend should continue evolving for as long as consumers continue to have overlapping tastes.
Even gamers are becoming more fashion-conscious and aware of what is hyped, which makes adidas’ EA Sports collab potentially just the start of a wider trend for video game and sportswear or streetwear mash-ups.
Athletes are more recognizable than most influencers and have long been walking billboards for brands. Just ask David Beckham. The ex-soccer star's namesake Odell Beckham Jr., P.J. Tucker, Kylian Mbappé, and others are a potential goldmine, and brands' marketing departments all see the opportunity to connect to new generations of consumers through them.
A lot of these players grew up interested in streetwear. Players from previous generations have of course been fashion addicts, but this specific crop appears more immersed and aware of streetwear culture, making their impact on fashion potentially greater. After all, if J.R. Smith getting the Supreme logo tattooed on his calf doesn’t convince you of the growing synergy between sports and streetwear, nothing will.
When you're finished here, peep our 2018 edition of the Highsnobiety Crowns.