Seasonal Changes by Tom Burkitt
This year, as the weather warms up and everyone realizes that they don’t have sufficient clothes or funds for the sunny weather ahead, there's one question that is timidly whispered among streetwear fans and fashion gurus;
“Is Supreme Finished?”
Supreme currently is arguably the biggest streetwear brand in the world. The New York Times named the company’s strategy as “Guerrilla Fashion” but by regularly releasing new product, Supreme has the cash flow to rival any major business. As well as its owner (James Jebbia) reportedly now collecting a personal fortune of $40,000,000.
It is evident to anyone that walks past London’s Soho on a Thursday morning that supreme is still at the epicenter of culture today. I myself can proudly say that I haven’t waited in line for any supreme drops for many months but, I will not deny that there was a time where my life revolved around the New York brand. When I first visited the supreme store in the early summer of 2013 I was still a child on my first trip to London. While I still had to wait an hour or so before the store opened I relished the opportunity to witness the big city for the first time without adult supervision. I was situated high enough in the line to be able to look in through the Peter Street shutters and glimpse at all of the new garments on the hangers next to a commanding Mark Gonzalez sculpture in the stores basement.
As supreme are heading for a potential decline the question arises of what brands will take their place or where will the audience migrate to? There is big competition for “the next big thing”, some brands you most likely have heard of as well as brands you most likely haven’t.
OFF-WHITE C/O Virgil Abloh is the first company that I am presenting to you. OFF-WHITE, founded in 2014 by Virgil Abloh is now seen as one of the new driving forces of streetwear. Virgil was famously Kanye's right hand man and creator of the infamous “Pyrex Vision” movement. Off-White this year has released its first Womenswear collection and has made a full advancement from screen-printed hoodies and rugby flannels to entering the world of high fashion through tailoring and ideas purpose. Off-White is also beginning to shake up the footwear market as well. They have released their own line of footwear and have announced up to 5 Nike Shoe collaborations including Virgil's personal touch expressed on pairs of Air Max 90’s, Air Jordan 1’s and my personal favorite the Off-White Air Force 1’s. This metamorphosis from humble beginnings I believe is what keeps off white feeling rebellious, new and thus it is good to keep an eye on everything that emerges from the Off-White ateliers.
The second brand I believe in is Alyx Studios headed by Matthew Williams. This may be your introduction to the brand but that does not mean that Alyx will remain niche in the future. In two seasons Matthew Williams has created one of the most exciting current fashion brands most famous for the rollercoaster belt championed by various celebrities such as A$AP Rocky and Ian Connor. The feel that I get from Alyx at this time is one similar to Vetements before it landed noisily into the mainstream. Personally Alyx not only dominates my shopping list but my wardrobe as well, currently my favourite fashion brand. I believe that Matthew Williams will be a household name in the near future. Alyx is another brand that has just released a major footwear release. The American brand sold out its collaboration with Vans in rapid time.
British designer JW Anderson is next on our list and is one of the more recognizable names. He recently became accomplished after a sizable investment from LVMH (a company owning brands such as Louis Vuittion and Dior) allowed him to step up his production and expand his outreach J.W. Anderson is now a regular shelf filler in high-brow stores such as Dover Street Market and Selfridges as well as opening his own store in London’s Shoreditch. This rare achievement is matched with Jonathan Anderson being named creative director of Spanish brand Lowevein 2013 as well as winning BOTH menswear and womenswear designer of the year at the 2015 british fashion awards. Jonathan is certainly one of the most thrilling contempary british designers now.
As trends rise and fall through the years there has appeared to be a “one man brand” that has acted as a rock for culture and fashion. This person is of course the famed Belgium designer Raf Simons, who’s latest development is taking over creative direction of Calvin Klein after leaving Dior last summer. It is undeniable that whatever emerges from Rafs brain or fingertips ismagical and golden. The task for Raf this year now is that he is now a blockbuster designer and with that come the eyes of the fashion press and fans.
Something that I have realized in recent years is that in fashion it is less the power of the clothes and the power of the brand and the lifestyle. Buying an expensive shirt from a notorious fashion house like Gucci has become more than an internal dialogue of “this fabric feels nice, I like the way it looks”. A house like Gucci or YSL now associates a lifestyle and a way of existing that triggers your subconscious and this transcends language barriers and clothes.
This is related to the power of the individual in the fashion industry as well. From my position looking into men’s fashion there is a clear list of people that can shift cultural tides and can make a company successful. Take for example A$AP Rocky, the man who is responsible for igniting my obsession for fashion and I believe the single coolest person in the world. Rocky’s power is undeniable he has helped push Raf’s work into the mainstream. This is best encapsulated at this years MET Gala when Rocky wore a Calvin Klein by Raf Simons Outfit. In todays market it is more about celebrity endorsements than design power.
To summarize the main questions we have for this long and exhausting summer are; can supreme keep the attention of its audience? Which brands are worth looking out for? And can Raf Simons make a pants shop be taken seriously in fashion?
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