One of my pet peeves is when people wear rival streetwear brands together in the same ensemble. Nike socks with New Balance sneakers? An Adidas tracksuit and a Puma t-shirt? That’s tacky af.
Not that brand loyalty is everything, either (I can’t talk–my entire wardrobe’s Palace and Carhartt lol).
An easy way to avoid this streetwear faux pas is to start filling your wardrobe with more unique brands to balance out.
We’re spoiled for choice, really—there’s no excuse to be rehashing the same shit over and over. Be the trendsetter amongst your mates and check out these labels for some serious heat.
The chunky sneaker dominated 2010s fashion and the trend shows no sign of slowing down into the 2020s. What is getting stale is the same footwear brands over and over. There’s so many people rocking Balenciaga Triple S models (both fake and real) that we want them, like, 25% less than before.
Enter Li-Ning: a Chinese sportswear brand that’s made waves recently for its extremely aggressive, innovative sneakers. At a time where many streetwear brands riff off each other endlessly, Li-Ning has taken big risks and debuted super unique designs replete with comfy materials and a reasonable price-tag. Really wanna make a statement? Slap some of these on your feet.
Altamunted is a Sydney streetwear label, known for their irreverent sense of humour and curating mad dance parties on the reg (two things that go really well together tbh). Quality is the name of the game—all design work and printing is done in-house in Australia, and when they can’t source materials from down under, they use the best from overseas—Champion hoodies, American Apparel blanks, Asahi Super Dry (in the design process, obviously…)
Their designs celebrate the rattiness of Australiana and they regularly collaborate with local icons like Struthless, Ratlife and Raj Mahal. All their pieces are limited editions, made in small runs and designed to be worn to death. Support local businesses and get some Altamunted on ya.
The line between streetwear and outdoor equipment is super blurry. Techwear brands like Acronym, Stone Island and Arc’teryx Veilance take technical innovations from the worlds of hiking and adventuring and translate them into a fashion context.
Some outdoor brands have just been straight-up adopted by the streetwear world, like The North Face, Timberland or Salomon. Napapijri is another one of these brands that straddles these two worlds and is definitely worth your consideration.
A rugged brand that uses polar exploration as a major design theme, Napapijri jackets have been long renowned for their technical superiority and sleek look. Tough enough to go skiing in yet chic enough to boogie in too, Napapijri focus on high-quality materials and pieces built to last. Whether you’re halfway up a mountain or at an underground party, Napapijri is sure to elevate your wardrobe (see what I did there?)
Much like how adventure wear and streetwear are best buds, workwear and streetwear also have an intimate relationship (spicy!) Carhartt, Dickies and Levis are streetwear staples due to their durability and versatility. Add Stan Ray to that list, too.
Made in the U.S. from heavyweight cotton drill, Stan Ray pants and jackets are legendarily tough as well as incredibly fresh. Coming in a wide variety of pastels and patterns, they epitomise relaxed, confident style. To paraphrase Obie Trice, it’s all real, no gimmicks.
Wear them up, wear them down, wear them into battle—Stan Ray is a brand that’ll never let you down.
Shoes Like Pottery
Canvas sneakers are a must-have in anyone’s wardrobe because of their sheer versatility. Need shoes to skate in? Or what about sneakers you can wear with a suit? Get some canvas sneakers. But not all canvas sneakers are made equal.
Japanese brand Shoes Like Pottery make artisanal canvas sneakers with a difference. All their shoes are fired in a kiln (like pottery—hence the name) – this unique process creates a chemical reaction which bonds the vulcanised rubber soles to the shoes without using adhesive or stitching, making them extra durable and cozy.
Little touches like the wax-sealed logo and bright blue sole make them distinctive and playful kicks. Shoes Like Pottery are a great alternative to Converses or Vans, and deserve a spot on your list.
Cactus Plant Flea Market
Perhaps the most quietly influential streetwear brand to emerge in 2019, Cactus Plant Flea Market (CPFM) has become one of the hottest names in streetwear. Featuring high-profile co-signs from the likes of Kid Cudi, Kanye West and the A$AP Mob and recently collaborating with streetwear giant Nike, CPFM’s cheeky DIY aesthetic has been widely imitated.
CPFM takes mundane fashion staples and peppers them with idiosyncratic design features—deliberately overwashed sweaters, haphazard graphic placements and retro fonts abound in their collection. Keeping to the classic hype formula of infrequent drops and word-of-mouth advertising, CPFM is a dynamic brand that’s yet to hit Australia in full force… Until you wear it, that is. Start a trend!
This Melbourne brand started by two brothers in 2010 has been bubbling under in the mainstream consciousness, but long worn by those in the know. For all those who’ve seen their bright green logo or tag and wondered what the deal was, here’s the 411.
Inspired by alpine style as well as the fertile Melbourne skating scene, Ichpig makes 100% of their clothes in Victoria. This dedication to quality and local manufacturing shines through in all their pieces—bulky, comfortable threads; technical accessories; Japanese denim; hand-knitted beanies… Ichpig are a label worth investing in.
You’ve heard of Nike but you might not have heard of their sub-brand ACG. ACG (All Conditions Gear) was launched at the turn of the 90s and has always been very distinct from Nike’s usual offerings. Their trail-focused designs; tongue-in-cheek advertising and naming schemes; bright neon colourways and limited availability made them instant icons of streetwear.
Nike ACG have boldly returned for the 21st century and feature a mix of classic 90s designs as well as modern innovations. Still dedicated to crazy colours and technical wizardry, ACG sneakers and apparel instantly spice up your wardrobe. I’ve always felt as if they give off a really Questacon or Bill Nye the Science Guy vibe. The 90s were a wild time, so get wild, bb.
You mighta have noticed a trend here—we’re recommending brands that make quality pieces that’ll last a long time. That’s no coincidence. Streetwear style in 2020 is all about being conscious of your environmental impact and choosing stuff that’s not going to be out of fashion come 2021 (or like, June 2020).
Noon Goons epitomises this wave. All their gear is made in Los Angeles the old fashioned way—no sweatshops, no cheap materials, just that good good. Noon Goons’ minimal branding, utilitarian vibe and quiet confidence are just what you need in your rotation for 2020.
Check out our guide to the “subtle flex” here.
Finally, here’s an accessories brand that nails that balance between sustainability and cool. Swiss brand Freitag are famous for upcycling industrial materials into cutting edge, hardy luggage. Designed for the rigours of biking and urban life, Freitag are effortlessly cool.
Most notably, they scour the roads of Europe to find used truck cargo tarpaulins to fashion bags from. This means that not only is every Freitag piece tough as nails, each piece is unique—made from a different cut of truck tarp. It’s a win-win-win for consumers and the planet.