Streetwear Influencers & Brands

February 02, 2016

Streetwear Influencers & Brands

ASICS

An appreciation of ASICS can’t start without acknowledging the rich history of the brand. It started as Onitsuka Tiger in Kobe, Japan in 1949 named after the founder Kihachiro Onitsuka. Starting out making basketball shoes, Onitsuka then expanded the range until the distinctive silhouette, the Mexico 66 was born. It featured for the first time the distinctive cross-stripes that define Onitsuka Tiger and ASICS today.

In 1977 ASICS was born out of the motto ‘anima sana in corpore sano’ – a healthy soul in a healthy body.

Raf Simons

Raf Simons is a Belgian fashion designer. He started as a furniture designer before entering the world of high fashion (and aren’t we glad he did) with the launch of his Raf Simonslabel in 1995. Since then Raf has worked with a number of brands and designers, including being the creative director at Dior between 2012 and 2015, and collaborating with brands such as Fred Perry and Adidas.

The sneaker culture best knows Raf from his highly successful collaborative line with Adidas Originals. His signature style revolves around a robust, athletic look particularly in his cult-classic Ozweego and Response Trail lines. On the initial line there was a strong focus on vibrant, contrasting colours and materials. If you walk down the street in them there’s no doubt you’re turning heads. In his new season with the Ozweego 3 and Response Trail 2, he has stepped back with simple classy designs in white and black, flecked with colour.

Our personal favourite from the Raf Simons collection is his perfecting of a classic by taking the Adidas favourite ‘Stan Smith’ and reinventing it with premium materials and craftsmanship. Available in the OG colourway or in a huge range of pastel colours, these are a staple in your sneaker collection.

Rick Owens

Rick Owens hails from California, and began designing in 1994. Since then he has built a strong name for himself, particularly for his focus on minimalistic, monochromatic designs. His DRKSHDW label is highly sought after in the high fashion scene, and in the sneaker culture, he is well-known for pushing the boundaries of footwear design in his collaborative line with Adidas Originals. His well-loved runners and tech runners are statement makers to say the least, and his geobaskets one the most outrageous(ly good) designs. Recently he has incorporated Adidas technology in his springblade range.

Interestingly, Rick Owens (like Raf Simons) has also delved in furniture design, though for him this only started in 2010. Below is a photo from his Hong Kong flagship store, where you can buy that coffee table you always wanted – a bowed-down life-size figure of Rick Owens himself (how could you not want it??)

Ronnie Fieg

Ronnie Fieg is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in streetwear and sneaker culture. He is well-known for his collaboration work with Asics; however has worked extensively with a heap of brands. His first ever collaboration was with Asics in 2007 while he was at footwear chain David Z, where only 252 pairs of (very colourful) Gel Lyte IIIs were released exclusively at David Z. This marked the beginning of his exponential rise in the sneaker world, collaborating on further Gel Lyte IIIs with significantly toned down colourways such as the Navy-Aqua, Super Blue and Red, Leatherbacks and the beloved Mint and Cove. Fieg also began collaborations with a number of other brands such as Clarks and Sebago, which continue to this day.

In 2010 Fieg helped bring back the Asics GT-II with the Ultramarine colourway. A clean, simple silhouette with a brilliant blue finish, these are our personal favourite GT-IIs (on par with the BBBerlins).

In 2011, Fieg had the biggest moment in his career with the Kith grand opening in Manhattan. It was celebrated with arguably the most hyped Gel Lyte III of all time – the Salmon Toes. Coming in a commemorative wooden box like the Leatherbacks, with Kith and Asics dogtags, these are undoubtedly one of the most sought after collabs around.

Since then it has only gone up for Kith, with Ronnie Fieg having collaborated on a number of other grail status releases. In 2013 he reintroduced the ASICS Gel-Lyte V with the much-loved Volcano. Featuring pigskin suede, nubuck and mesh in a range of red and burgundy tones, these set the scene for Gel Vs and arguably created our love for the distinctive rope laces we see on so many kicks today (including the Yeezys!) Other loved releases are his NB1300 Salmon Sole, NB1600 Daytona, NB577 Americana and Puma Sakura projects, just to name a few (the list goes on and on).

Recently Kith has expanded by opening its doors in Brooklyn, with a huge renovation. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of visiting, the setup is absolutely killer. Hanging from the ceiling are rows of ceramic white Air Jordan IIs and at the back, Kith Treats, a cereal bar with all the sugary goodness you could want, served in shoe boxes. Shopping and eating, the two best pastimes. Nice touch Ronnie.

For those who can’t make it in-store, you can find a whole bunch of goodies at www.kithnyc.com

Concepts

While not an individual influencer, Concepts is undoubtedly one of the most influential stores in the sneaker culture with its extensive repertoire of collaborations with a huge number of brands. Opening in 1996 in Massachusetts, Concepts startd heavily in streetwear and skate culture. Since then it has evolved into a streetwear powerhouse, with its extensive number of collaborations ranging from ASICS to New Balance and even brands such as Karhu, doing justice to every silhouette it touches. We’re interested to know what your thoughts are on your favourite Concepts collab – so we’ve got a poll for you below. Have your say on your favourite Concepts collab.

Kanye West

Of all the sneaker influences in recent times, Kanye West’s reach into the mainstream culture has been the most significant. With his distinct bravado he often tears opinions to opposite ends of the spectrum, but there’s no denying that he is one of the most influential designers in the game. His first entry into the sneaker world came with his collaboration with Nike in releasing the Air Yeezys. The first sighting of samples came in his 2008 Grammies performance where he wore a triple black suede pair, later auctioned off for charity. The final release in the three known colourways – Zen Grey, Blink and Net – happened through staggered releases between April and June 2009. They sold out instantly (are you surprised?). At the same time Kanye released a collaboration with Louis Vuitton in three models – the Don, the Jasper and the Hudson. The most notable of these, the Don, features those straps which Kanye has become so well-known for, as well as a bright pink lining. Which similarly featured on the sole of the Jaspers and Hudsons.

Three years later this was followed by teasing of the Air Yeezy 2 in 2012, which had a complete redesign, using and ATC II sole, reptile-skin style upper and the signature strap. Underneath this strap are hieroglyphics which spell YZY. On June 9 2012, 5000 pairs of each colourway – the Solar Reds and Pure Platinums – were released. The Red Octobers were nowhere to be seen, until a surprise release on February 9 2014, almost two years later. Arguably his most famous sneaker, the Red Octobers Air Yeezy 2 have defined Kanye’s time at Nike. Considering pairs go from $4k+, we’d say he had a pretty successful ride there.

Now at Adidas, Kanye has just released his 350 boosts, 750 boosts and 950 boosts, AKA the duck boots. The 950 boosts formed part of the Yeezy Season 1 apparel and footwear collection, but the real thirst is in the 350s and 750s. Since the initial release of the 750s no word on the next release has been leaked, but Kanye has been spotted wearing a black pair. With the Pirate Black and Turtle Dove 350 boosts out in limited numbers, the next instalments (beige/tan and beluga blue) are following suit.

Overall there’s no doubt that Kanye’s influence is not about to die out soon, and given that he is released some damn good stuff, we hope it doesn’t.

Tinker Hatfield

Tinker Hatfield is a legend of the game. Nike’s most decorated and celebrated designers, he is the man behind the Air Max, and the designer of the Air Jordan 3s through 15, with input in later models including the XX, XXIII, XXV and XXIX.

This year, 2015 marks 30 years since Tinker Hatfield started designing shoes for Nike. The Air Max 1 marked his first and arguably one of his best designs. The Nike Air brand had existed long before the Air Max series in the 1979 Tailwinds; however it was brought to a new level when Tinker Hatfield cut out part of the midsole to make the air unit visible. His inspiration was the Centre Pompidou in Paris, where he could see “the guts” of the entire building from the outside. Bringing this to Nike, in 1987 the Air Max 1 was born. Not long after in 1988, Hatfield strengthened an uncertain relationship between Nike and Michael Jordan with the Air Jordan III, the first to feature the visible air unit.

Over the years, a huge number of designs, including the Air Trainers, Air Mowabbs and a number of Huarache based models were released thanks to Tinker Hatfield, along with the most loved of all the Jordans, particularly the IVs, Vs, Vis and XIs.

Currently Nike’s Vice President for Design and Special Projects, he has been involved with some of the most sought after Nike releases, including the Nike Mags, and the HTM line of special edition flyknit models, named after the collobration between Tinker Hatfield, Hiroshi Fujiwara (Nike’s style leader) and Mark Parker (Nike CEO and designer).

Regardless of what kind of sneakerhead you are, whether you’re an Air Max and Jordan fan or not, the respect in the sneaker community for Tinker Hatfield’s work is undeniable and well deserved.

Yohji Yamamoto

Yohji Yamamoto is a master tailor and hugely influential fashion designer. Funnily enough, he also holds a law degree from Keio University in Japan. However he never pursued that path (to our gratitude) and ended up studying fashion design at Bunka Fashion College, where he graduated in 1969. Since then he has built a significant following through his multiple labels Yohji Yamamoto, Y’s and his collaborative label Y-3 with Adidas.

The Y-3 label is one of the most well-received high fashion brands in the sneaker community, and for good reason. Based on simple, futuristic (and goddamn comfy) designs, his line of apparel and footwear in particular are a staple for many sneakerheads today. Many of his most famous silhouettes, including the Qasa High and Retro Boost use his flagship neoprene uppers combined with the sole technology from Adidas. With new silhouettes released this year, incorporating the Adidas boost sole for ultimate comfort, the Y-3 brand is progressively creeping into mainstream sneaker culture with its mix of affordability (for designer footwear) and clean aesthetics.

Pharrell Williams        

Pharrell is well known for his musical talents, but is also well versed in fashion design (pun intended). He is the co-founder of Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream footwear with highly influential Japanese streetwear designer Nigo, the creator of BAPE. Since enterting the fashion industry in 2005 he has worked on a huge number of collaborations with brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler, G-Star Raw and Uniqlo. In 2014 he entered a long-term partnership with Adidas for both apparel and footwear and has already shown his influence, particular in the Supercolors release where Adidas Superstars in 50 different colours were made. That choice. Pharrell also released a Stan Smith ‘Floral Jacquard’ collection limited to 200 of each piece of apparel and footwear, executed perfectly in our opinion. We look forward to seeing what his future at Adidas holds!

Supreme

Supreme is a skate brand at heart, but has exploded into the streetwear scene particularly from the influence of Odd Future founder Tyler, the Creator and other hip-hop influencers. Thebrand was originally established in NYC in 1994, with heavy skate influence. It was one of the first stores to have the clothing displayed on the outer walls of the store with a large amount of room in the centre, which was said by co-founder James Jebbia to be so that people could skate into the store and still feel comfortable. Since that time Supreme stores have opened in Los Angeles, London and multiple cities in Japan. A future store is being constructed in Paris. 

The thirst for Supreme is particularly directed to the very distinct red box logo with a simple “Supreme”, and the resell market for Supreme apparel has boomed in recent years (unfortunately). Make sure that you visit the Supreme store on their Thursday morning 11AM release – and yes, be prepared to camp.

The brand has also had a number of footwear and apparel collaborations. The most notable of these are undoubtedly the 2015 drop of the Air Jordan 5 x Supreme pack, as well as the 2014 Nike x Supreme Foamposite pack which was so hyped that it forced Supreme to cancel their in-store release on orders from the NYPD due to fears for public safety. In recent years particularly, it is safe to say that Supreme is one of the most influential streetwear brands in the world.


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Sizing Chart

ROWS OF EYELETS

LACE LENGTH RECOMMENDED SNEAKERS
4 OR LESS

Small

(36 inch)

  • adidas Ultraboosts(through the cage)
  • adidas NMDs(both NMD_R1 and NMD_R2)
  • ASICS Gel Lyte III (untied)
  • Puma Tsugi Shinsei

Includes both rope laces and flat laces for Ultraboosts and NMDs

5 - 6

Small

(36 inch)

Untied

-------

Medium

(43 inch)

Tied

  • adidas Ultraboost (tied with OG length or stacking through primeknit)
  • adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V1 and V2(untied)
  • adidas Y3 Qasa High
  • adidas ZG Boost
  • adidas Pure Boost
  • Nike Flyknit Racer
  • Nike Flyknit Mariah Racer
  • Nike Air Vapormax
  • Nike Janoski and Janoski Max
  • Nike Air Max Zero
  • New Balance 997
  • New Balance 247
  • New Balance 1978
7 - 8

Medium

(43 inch)

Untied

-------

Large

(50 inch)

Tied

  • Nike Air Max 97
  • Nke Air Max 95
  • Nike Air Max 98
  • Nike Air Max Plus (Nike TN)
  • Nike Air Max 1 (Women)
  • Nike Air Max 90 (Women)
  • Nike Air Max LD-Zero
  • Nike Free Runs
  • ASICS Gel Saga
  • ASICS Gel Lyte V
  • ASICS Gel Respector
  • ASICS GT-2
  • ASICS Gel Kayano Trainer
  • adidas ZX Flux
  • adidas Tubular
  • adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V1 and V2
  • New Balance 996
  • New Balance 997
  • New Balance 998
  • New Balance 1500
  • Puma Blaze of Glory

The majority of running shoes will be in this range.

9 -10

Large

(50 inch)

  • Nike Air Presto (though fewer eyelets, these are widely laced)
  • Nike Air Max 1
  • Nike Air Max 90
  • Nike Air Force 1 Lows
  • Nike Dunk Lows
  • Any Nike Air Jordan from the Air Jordan III (untied)
  • adidas Stan Smith (inc Raf Simons)
  • adidas Superstar
  • adidas Ultraboost (stacking through the primeknit)
  • adidas Yeezy Boost 750
  • ASICS Gel Lyte V
  • Rick Owens Ramones Lows
11 +

X-Large

(63 inch)

  • Nike Air Jordan I
  • Nike Foamposites
  • Nike Dunk Highs
  • Nike Air Force 1 Highs
  • Rick Owens Ramone Highs (no wrap)
  • Any other Air Jordan where you want to tie
  • Most high-top basketball shoes (KDs, LeBrons, Currys, Kyries, Kobes).

 

Most Common Questions

Ultra Boost laces length?

We recommend Medium (43 Inch) laces for Ultraboosts, as this matches the stock lace length. However, for those looking for a smaller bow or to wear untied, Small (36 Inch) would be an ideal option. You can find both these lengths across our most popular styles in our Ultraboost collection

NMD laces length?

The adidas NMD is notorious for having laces which are way too long. We suggest our Small (36 Inch) laces for the best fit, which when threaded loosely will give you a nicely sized bow without all the dangle and mess of the stock laces. You can find NMD laces here in our NMD collection

Most popular Ultra Boost laces?

The best thing about ultraboosts is that they are versatile and look great with both rope laces, and flat laces. We suggest keeping to the lightweight, tech-vibe by using regular aglets. Our favourite laces for ultraboosts are the black/3M flat lacesin Medium (43 Inch).

 

This sizing chart is a guide only and is flexible depending on how you thread your laces. For those you enjoy tight threading, our recommended "untied" versions may be appropriate for tying. For those who enjoy particularly loose threading, a larger length may be more appropriate. It will also depend on the size of the shoe (for example some smaller Ultraboosts would be recommended as 36 inch, but larger ones as 45")

The best way to check a rough appropriate length is to measure the current laces in your shoes.