Best of: Fashion in 2017, As Told By Big Smoke
2017 was a banner year for fashion and streetwear. Last year, Adidas dominated the market with their Ultra Boost, NMD and Yeezy styles amongst others. Nike knew that coming into 2017. The result? Some of the most flame capsules and collections to drop from both sides of the fence. Other companies stepped up as well, including Gucci and their Gucci Aces, Converse and the Golf Le Fleur line, Vans x Fear of God and Balenciaga’s Triple S and Speed Trainer styles.
I left Los Angeles during the summer of 2017. The streetwear/fashion scene here in San Diego is mad different from my days of scrounging up quarters to hit up the sale racks at 5 & A Dime, Commissary, Future of Styles, Attic, Blends and Street Machine over a decade ago. So, I plan on spending my 2018 getting reacquainted with the SD scene and some of the city’s up-and-coming brands and designers.
The biggest thing I learned about fashion while living in LA?: You just can’t give a fuck. Old or new. Baggy or skinny. Eclectic or subdued. High-end or bottom of the bin. Every style, fit, shape and color has a place in the world of fashion and should be appreciated as such.
Unless you’re Anti Social Social Club. That shit is wack.
Anyway, here are my top ten highlights in streetwear and fashion for 2017.
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NIKE x OFF WHITE COLLECTION - Air Jordan 1
Nike commissioned one of the most in-demand designers to create a capsule featuring ten iconic Nike sneakers. The concept? Deconstruct and simplify. Virgil Abloh, founder of OFF-WHITE, pulls the curtain back by exposing otherwise unseen materials (the foam of the tongue, for example), displacing your regular Nike branding (missing swoosh, off-centered tongue tags), introducing unconventional colors (neon green, bright orange) and stamping everything with his signature “OFF-WHITE” stylized labels. The concept of the entire collection is groundbreaking, in my opinion.
NIKE x SEAN WOTHERSPOON - Air Max 97/1 Hybrid
A sneaker created BY sneakerheads, FOR sneakerheads. Now you probably already know the story of how this shoe came to be. This shoe mirrors all of the same attitudes as the OFF-WHITE sneakers but from a different side of the fence. Combining the Air Max 97 and Air Max 1, the shoe utilizes a completely original and unique colorway, a velour sock-lining and the oft-forgotten material corduroy. Designed to look better the more you wear it, it’s a versatile sneaker with a boatload of personality. Every time I see them, I just want to smile, you know?
ADIDAS x KANYE WEST - Yeezy Boost 350 V2 “Zebra”
I fell in love with this shoe after the first photos surfaced of Kanye West wearing them at Chance The Rapper’s Magnificent Coloring Day 2016 music festival. Upon its initial February release, resale prices for this shoe reached an all-time peak of an average of $1500+, mirroring the value of 2015’s most popular V1, the Turtledoves. The shoe was re-released later in the year, making it a tiny bit more available to consumers. Many are complaining that “Yeezys are falling off” due to a slightly declining resale value (But come on, $400-700 is still a decent profit margin), but I say fuck it let those prices drop. That way, I can cop myself some extra.
NIKE/JORDAN BRAND - Air Jordan 1 “Royal”
If the Yeezy epitomizes the resale market, than the Jordan 1 is your new industry standard. Nike decided to take a new approach to the Air Jordan 1 this year, marketing the shoe as a “lifestyle” shoe more so than a collectors pieces. We saw a ton of colorways release this year, but my favorite of them all was the Royal. I’ve always wanted a pair but the right size at the right price had always eluded me in the past. Luckily, Nike released these in slightly higher quantities than last year’s remastered version of the BRED colorway. And while I still didn’t manage to get my pair for retail (just my luck), the resale value for these wasn’t too high, making it a worthy cop.
Whenever I’m out, I see so many people rocking the Royals, and its so awesome to see the shoes get so much love. It’s a timeless colorway that ends up being a nice change of pace between a plethora black and red Air Jordan sneakers.
VANS x FEAR OF GOD - Era 95 DX
On some real shit, I’m a “California Boy.” Not only that, but I also worked at Vans for over six years, in various stores across SD, OC and LA. They got they Deadass B’s on the East, but on the West, we rock with Vans. I tried getting the original pair of Eras that dropped last year, but even though I arrived at Pac Sun around 5 AM, there was already a solid 100+ people in line.
However, I think Jerry Lorenzo and the crew at Vans outdid themselves with the second collection. I can’t get enough of the red corduroy (There it is again, soooo underrated) on the toebox contrasting with the Fear of God all-over print on the quarter of the shoe. The shoe pops so much and will look even better with wear, just like all Vans do.
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Nike x Tom Sachs "Mars Yard 2.0"
Converse x Golf "Golf Le Fleur"
Boot Boyz Biz - Various Releases
The Boot Boyz Biz is an anonymous collective of graphic designers and artists who decided to make their own clothing in response to questions like, “Why don’t they have a shirt that has ___ on it?!” With clothing that references everything from old 80’s issues of NME, early 20th century Bauhaus art and even local architecture/sculptures from BBB’s home city of Chicago.
I purchased one of their shirts, and not only did the description online include multiple paragraphs about the artistic direction of the piece I grabbed (Do yourself a favor and check out their product page and read some of the descriptions), but they also included a poster about the history of Bauhaus with my specific shirt.
They drop new collections (known as a “Group #”) what feels like every other month or so, don’t quote me on that. Just follow them on IG and turn on your notifications, because ever since Kanye started rocking them, they’re sold out in minutes.
VETEMENTS - Hong Kong Pop-Up
I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like to pull up to the Vetements pop-up at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Kowloon, Hong Kong (Actually, I can’t imagine pulling up in Hong Kong to begin with). The brand really took cues from the venue itself, as workers wore DHL uniforms selling apparel out of shipping boxes and crates. It literally looks like a Chinatown market, down to the sale prices being written on fluorescent explosion-shaped paper stuck onto the TVs… Here, this is what I’m talking about. Attendees were also able to check out Vetement’s collaborations with Umbro and Reebok, among others.
SELFRIDGES x AWGE - London Bodega (Various)
When talking pop-up shop installations for 2017, the most notable is the Supreme x Louis Vuitton release from earlier in the year. But one of my favorites was when London-based department store Selfridges nominated A$AP Rocky and his AWGE outfit to host a pop-up concept space based on the New York bodega.
Bringing the staple NY corner store across the Atlantic, the shop included A$AP/AWGE themed candy and snacks (ie. Cap’n Chronic cereal), cross-branded Krispy Kreme donuts, Swarovski embellished Mob posters, tees, pillows and more. Attention to details--that’s how you stand out in 2017.
OFF THE ROPE - Various
The world’s of hip-hop and professional wrestling has been akin to an on-and-off relationship. We’ve had Nas referencing Iron Shiek in “It Ain’t Hard To Tell,” Big Pun performing at the Wrestlemania 15 Rage Party, and Wiz Khalifa taking the stage at Monday Night Raw in his hometown of Pittsburgh. However there has always been a slight disconnect between the two cultures. They’ve never managed to complete the bridge. This is where Off The Rope steps in.
The WWE experienced its biggest boom period during the late 90s, a period dubbed the Attitude Era. The Rock and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin came into our homes and influenced an entire generation of people. “Those Damn” millennials, now walking with increased spending power, are re-living and re-creating those memories with a fondess and nostalgia.
Austin Puck, creator of Off The Rope, is making pro wrestling-inspired streetwear and killing it. The designs equally take cues from Death Row Records, DONDA and No Limit Records as much as they do the Monday Night Wars and The Undertaker. There is an untapped market for pro wrestling and hip-hop crossover, and It’s not about riding the wave, but providing the wave.
Vintage Culture - Various
This might be cheating, but if 2016 laid the foundation for vintage culture, then it exploded in 2017. You wanna know how I know this? Enough said. And don’t get me wrong, I love Urban and sometimes they come with fire but it’s also where you know things could possibly go south, you feel me?
I still remember the first time I specifically sought out a piece of vintage clothing. It was a North Face jacket I found on Ebay in 2013. I still have it to this day. But it wasn’t until Round Two dropped down in Los Angeles that I really enveloped myself in the vintage world. From here, single-stitched band t-shirts hit the boutique LA racks and went straight to the closets of artists like Kanye West, A$AP Rocky and Madeintyo.
And it’s still growing today. The last time I went to the Rose Bowl Flea Market, I ran into Jerry Lorenzo, creator of Fear of God. And the last time I went to the Long Beach Antique Market, I ran into Jeremy Scott, the genius behind Moschino in the 90s and his namesake label today. Designers in high-fashion are taking their cues from clothing of the past. Whether it’s for personal wear, or to reference for potential collections, embracing the past has inevitably changed the future of fashion.
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Lastly, I wanted to shout out all of the local brands out there making waves here in San Diego. I look forward to discovering more local flame in 2018, and you should peep as well: