Table of Contents
- A Bathing Ape (BAPE)
- A Cold Wall
- Aimé Leon Dore
- Billionaire Boys Club
- Carhartt WIP
- Cav Empt
- Criminal Damage
- Heron Preston
- Manière De Voir
- New Era
- Sik Silk
- Stone Island
- Weekend Offender
- Other top streetwear brands
- What countries produce the best Streetwear Brands?
The street style scene has come a long way since (allegedly) the first hip-hop rapper in New York decided to drip in comfort by wearing jeans, sneakers, t-shirt and baseball cap and bling jewellery in the late 1970’s to spark a clothing revolution and launch a thousand streetwear brands. Along the way, it fused with LA skate culture, so basically the urban generation decided they wanted to look cool standing up on a skateboard and not get their flares caught in the wheels.
Then Shawn Stussy signed his surf boards and decided to print graphic t-shirts with the same signature, and the Californian surfers bought his t-shirts to look rad while they held up their longboards after catching some waves. Mix in a little bit of Japanese urban influence, and there you go, streetwear style was born. But who are the best streetwear brands from UK, USA, Europe and Japan and how did they get so popular?
Our editor put it very nicely in our history of streetwear guide where he suggested that the music videos of MTV were the main reason it went global as it spread its reach over the world. Youth culture was influenced by people singing about the swag life, now people were seeing it. Pans People on Top of the Tops did not have the same influencer effect. He believes music and streetwear will forever be entwined.
And now we are now firmly in an era of luxury designer streetwear brands which dominate this list. This is fine if you like spending big money on a branded hoodie designed by the same fashion designers as the luxury fashion houses. Not so good if you are struggling to pay your energy bills, extortionate London rent, and stretch your meagre writers’ salary to cover your food costs. But hey, this is the price we pay for looking stylish and on-trend.
The problem with these editorials is they pretty much cover the same USA iconic streetwear brands on repeat. In some cases, this is fair as they influenced so much and deserve recognition. And this is evident that their history is so intertwined and many of their designers have gone on to be creative directors at the big haute couture fashion houses.
By compiling a list of the top streetwear brands we have to follow the definition which is of the most excellent or desirable type or quality. And with high-quality comes a higher price point, and usually better agents, PR, high-profile influencers and marketing. And in terms of streetwear, our working definition is clothing worn by urban youth culture.
But if you do want to know the low-key clothing brands you’ve never heard of or have seen on Instagram, you probably need to look at our A-Z of streetwear brands rather than this list.
In the meantime, we’ll cover some of the same big hypebeast names everyone else does. Just in our unique cynical but informative style, and put in a few more British brands for good measure.
So this is the incredibly catchy ultimate list of most popular and best streetwear brands in the world for your urban wardrobe essentials you should shop and cop right now in 2022 (in alphabetical order & may contain affiliate links so I can eat) © ™
A Bathing Ape (BAPE)
- Origin: Japan
- Founded: 1993
Japanese heavy-weights BAPE is the top of most lists of streetwear brands thanks to their clever use of the letter A. The lifestyle and street wear brand was founded in 1993 by DJ Nigo (aka Tomoaki Nagao), with it’s signature ape logo reminiscent of the 1968 Planet of the Apes film that inspired the name and Bape Sta (a star on their shoes, much like converse but with a lighting bolt).
Being a hip-hop DJ enabled NIGO to not only get his brand on the backs of mega superstars like Kanye West, but after selling BAPE lead to starting up Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream footwear with Pharrell Williams. While staying on with BAPE until recently, he is now creative director at Kenzo. Not bad for someone who does not speak a word of English.
The clothing label does merit a high placing though, it’s always had a Japanese utilitarian styling vibe and bold colourful designs were trail-blazing. The many high profile collaborations gave the successful blueprint for the likes of Supreme and Hype to copy.
With trainers costing over $300 and T-shirts ranging from $117-$250 you got to want it as the official website clearly states all sales are final and cancellations and returns not possible. So it’s best to use a UK website to get that long distance selling regulations cover on items you’ve not seen let alone tried on.
End Clothing have a good range of BAPE and accept returns, so are a far better choice for UK residents. As we (and many others) have had positive experiences with the retailer, we have linked to them. Other retailers are available.
A Cold Wall
- Origin: London, England
- Founded: 2015
A-COLD-WALL* was founded in 2015 by the London-based designer Samuel Ross, a one-time assistant of OFF-WHITE founder Virgil Abloh who’s influence is evident in marketing and design.
ACW is modern minimalist luxury menswear, made with high-quality materials like 100% 240gsm cotton on the essential tees. Mixing high-performance fabrics with artisan hand-finished techniques delivers quality garments not to be mistaken for a high-street knock-off.
Collaborations with Converse, Dr Martens and Beats by Dre prove they must be doing something right.
- Origin: Herzogenaurach, Germany
- Founded: 1924/1949
The German sportswear label date back to 1924 when brothers Adolf and Rudolf Dassler making running shoes as the imaginatively named Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory.
They famously fell out in 1949 and went their sperate ways with Adolf on one side of the Bavarian town’s river in his Adidas factory, and Rudolf establishing business rival Puma. Their spate continued to death, where they are buried as far apart as possible in the town cemetery.
The three stripes of Adidas are arguably more famous and is the largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe, and West Germany’s success wearing his football boots in the 1954 World Cup final helped make the sports brand an international name. And in 1967 the Franz Beckenbauer tracksuit moved them beyond shoes into mainstream sportswear.
Adi Dassler died in 1978 when many people think streetwear style was in it’s infancy, and why are they on this list? Well in 1986 Run-D.M.C released a song titled My Adidas. And you can’t cite hip-hop as spawning a dress style about smart casual clothes, and then ignore the fact one of the biggest 80’s groups in that genre were not just wearing the brand, but singing about it without sponsorship or endorsement.
Even 100 years after Adi Dassler started thinking about trainers, they are still in many sneaker collections and the older streetwear fanatics tend to continue to revere them. Their styles are still fashion forward, and being a large leisurewear brand, they will always have a market share across generations.
Aimé Leon Dore
- Origin: New York, USA
- Founded: 2014
Founded in Queens by Teddy Santis, you’d be forgiven to not knowing of the brand despite it’s London store and high profile collabs with New Era, Puma, New Balance, Woolrich and Porsche. The seasonal collections come with a heavy nod to 80’s retro nostalgia.
The success of ALD has seen designer Santis take a recent creative role at New Balance to oversee their premium Made in USA label.
Billionaire Boys Club
- Origin: USA
- Founded: 2003
It’s hard to pass over Pharrell Williams who shot to fame in 2001 with N.E.R.D and producing a string of hits for the likes of Nelly, Kellis, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z.
He makes this list as he co-created the Billionaire Boys Club and Ice cream footwear with BAPE founder NIGO. Pharell has also worked with Louis Vuitton and Moncler on eyewear collections, and partnered with Adidas.
Debuting his new brand in his first solo single Frontin’, it was always going to get exposure, and further collaborations with Jay-Z only strengthened brand awareness. With 3.75M subscribers on YouTube at the time of writing, Williams still has the social reach to push the brand.
- Origin: Germany
- Founded: 1994
Firstly lets clarify, Carhartt Inc was founded in 1889 in Michigan USA, making workwear and jackets and still runs today.
Edwin and Salomée Faeh of Germany were given a license to have their own line of clothing in 1994 under the label Carhartt Work In Progress (WIP).
The streetwear label has the same rugged quality with a skateboarding and graffiti influence, and has collaborated with BAPE and Vetements among others.
- Origin: Tokyo, Japan
- Founded: 2011
When NIGO sold A Bathing Ape, ex-designer SK8THING and Brit Toby Feltwell decided to go alone and C.E was born. Named from the Latin caveat emptor, the brand is full of sci-fi inspired designs and some are bright and colourful so not everyone’s cup of tea!
Either way, the Japanese label has a collection of bold prints that are sure to garner some attention and turn some heads. The brand have gained plaudits in the fashion industry and contemporary streetwear scene.
- Origin: USA
- Founded: 1908
If you want to make a Gen Z misty eyed, just mention the words Converse All-Stars, which at one point were the most sought-after shoes in history. The style was introduced in 1918, and after many years of being the official footwear of the NBA, it exploded into modern popularity in the 1980’s.
As always it was music that drove the clamour, with fashion icons Kurt Cobain and Guns N Roses leading the grunge and rock revolution. They are still available to buy for any nostalgia fuelled millennial with a love of the sneaker culture.
- Origin: London, England
- Founded: 1991
Criminal Damage have been a mainstay in East London for decades for the alternative crowd and the UK punk scene. Focusing on denim, they soon expanded into a signature style for goths, hipsters, punks, skaters and hip-hop fans in the UK capital. Sunny Aytan still owns the independent streetwear label, and takes inspiration from retro fashion fused with modern trends.
- Origin: New York
- Founded: 2016
The eponymous label by Heron Preston Johnson, a creative director and designer for Nike and Kanye West. Preston has also worked alongside streetwear alumni Virgil Abloh of Off-White and his own label is known for signature bright orange branding and stylish designs.
- Origin: Leicester, England
- Founded: 2011
Every British school kids favourite brand was started by friends Liam Greene and Aidy Lennox when they won a Printing Firms Facebook competition. The entry was a reimagined image of Albert Einstein and as a prize they had free run of 150 screen print tees to kick start their business venture.
Now, Hype’s back to school sale sees huge turnover but the clothing brand are more than bags and water bottles. Their summer 2022 collection of streetwear styles had a clear street style vibe and using 11 Degrees Josh Flannery as a model is likely a more aggressive and ambitious move into the urban fashion market.
With a host of high-profile endorsements including Jay-Z and 50 Cent, and collaborations with Disney, Star Wars and more, their platform is global.
Manière De Voir
- Origin: Manchester, England
- Founded: 2014
Maniere De Voir has been the most popular streetwear brand in the UK for a few years and is still growing, effortlessly combining contemporary designs with fashion week worthy streetwear.
MDV was started up by former footballer Reece Warbara with the help of Ben Francis and Lewis Morgan of Gym Shark, it’s only a matter of time before they are internationally recognised as one of the top street style brands.
- Origin: Buffalo, USA
- Founded: 1920
Baseball caps are synonymous with streetwear, and no-one comes close to rivalling the dominance of the New Era Cap company with their status as official partner to all of the major sports leagues in the US.
It’s not just their dominance of the headwear market, they genuinely make superior caps and as such often manufacturer for the big clothing labels.
- Origin: Oregon, USA
- Founded: 1964
When you think of fashion forward luxury sportswear or streetwear labels, it’s unlikely Nike will be first to come to mind. But the OG sports label swoosh logo and slogan (Just Do It) is more recognisable than any other brand on this list. So I do find it ironic that the editor insists on calling them Nike (rhyming with like) rather than the correct pronunciation Nikey (rhyming with likey)
Name aside (and skipping past they were called Blue Ribbon originally), Nike Air Jordan’s are another footwear staple for the streetwear style, but their clothing is now more in keeping with their urban fashion rivals.
- Origin: Milan
- Founded: 2013
American Off-White founder Virgil Abloh was in the Fendi internship class of 2009 with Kanye West. His time at the Italian Fashion house carved the path as he joined West’s Donda creative agency before starting high-end streetwear brand Off-White.
Abloh previously studied as an architect, so his use of clean diagonal stripes were a key signature design in the streetwear brands clothing line. His obvious talent led to being appointed the first African-American artistic director at Louis Vuitton in 2018.
This was streetwear that hit the Paris fashion week runways, and collaborated with a host of big-name brands and designers, which pushed a sale in 2019 before LVMH took controlling shares in 2021.
Abloh sadly passed away in November 2021, aged just 41.
- Origin: London, England
- Founded: 2009
Palace Skateboards make the list as Lev Tanju’s clothing line is the most famous UK skate apparel brand. The designs are dripping with 90s nostalgia and pop culture influence, but the skate label are not the force they once were regardless of what the cool kids think.
- Origin: Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Founded: 2004
Patta is our first European representation and the Dutch streetwear and sneaker store was founded by Surinamese friends Gee Schmidt and Edson Sabajo. The boutique started by selling imported trainers, hence the name Patta which Suriname street slang for sneakers.
The European streetwear brand evolved and grew into a powerhouse with a cult following, and collabs with Nike, Vans and Asics gave them global exposure.
- Origin: Scarborough, England
- Founded: 2012
This inclusion will surprise and annoy the sneaker and streetwear world snobs. But Sik Silk have done something no-one else has on this list, and brought affordable streetwear to the British high-streets and to a collaborative collection with Leo Messi. Palace might have built a cult following within the skate board community, but the boys from unfashionable Scarborough kickstarted the mass appeal for big logo tees, all from their bedroom.
Streetwear is casual clothing for urban playgrounds, and on British streets you will be far more likely to see Sik Silk than other brands on this list.
- Origin: Italy
- Founded: 1982
Stone Island will likely also spark some vitriol from puritans. If streetwear is defined by a casual clothing style worn by urban youth subcultures, then the Italian clothing brand merits it’s place with it’s adulation from the UK football culture. And so they should love it, the high quality all-weather jackets are popular for a reason for the outdoors.
Partnerships with Supreme and Drake and a takeover by Moncler have taken them to the next level, and they continue to churn out great designs. Their place on a list of best streetwear brands might be up for debate, but the quality workmanship of their jackets is not.
- Origin: California, USA
- Founded: 1980’s
Undisputed streetwear legend Shawn Stüssy was a popular figure on the California surf and Laguna Beach skate scene, selling sold graphic tees with his signature that was applied to his custom boards. The clothing was a side hustle, but spread to the American skateboard community in LA and New York.
Inspired by global trendsetters he now rolled with, the music and fashion collective played a big part in designs and reach. The surf and skate apparel brand became the streetwear staple internationally to inspire so many in the space.
Considered the first real streetwear label with his reasonable pricing and limited stock in select stores, he sold up in 1996 but it continues to thrive and influence as the one of the most iconic streetwear labels.
- Origin: New York, USA
- Founded: 1994
Founded by Brit James Jebbia who had worked at Stussy’s NYC store, it’s fair to say New York’s Supreme iconic status remains as the most talked about streetwear brands with their canny hype of limited edition collections.
Supreme New York are more than just the coolest kids clothing collections imbedded in streetwear culture. The Supreme box logo hoodies are a staple of the cool kids.
- Origin: Switzerland
- Founded: 2014
Demna and Guram Gvasalia’s brand found fame after Gosha Rubchinsky went viral with the DHL t-shirt in the SS16 show mainly on it’s eye-watering price of €245. Named after the French word for clothing, the brand has a wealth of celebrity fans.
- Origin: Wales
- Founded: 2004
I really want to include Welsh brand Weekend Offender for the same reasons as Stone Island and Sik Silk. Starting as a small graphic tee brand graphic, their urban garments played a big part in British youth culture and deserve a mention.
Other top streetwear brands
Honourable mentions go to the following streetwear brands and I will write these up too at some point:
- New Balance
- CDG Play
- The Hundreds
- Awake NY
- Brain Dead
- Cactus Plant Flea Market
- Golf Wang
What countries produce the best Streetwear Brands?
Clothing manufacturing is a global business, but our most iconic streetwear brands list is made up of the United States. the Far East and Europe.
Last point, there are some affiliate links in this, which is the same for the other sites with articles from other sites you’ve probably visited. This just means if you buy something we get a small percentage from the retailer at no charge for you.