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Vintage Streetwear - What Brands Used To Be "Hype"?

Posted on May 10 2022

With fashion, trends and style making constant circulation between what’s ‘cool’ and what's not - today we take a look into our favourite brands that used to dominate the streetwear and pop culture scene.

 

For years, old-school streetwear brands, such as the likes of Ed Hardy, Supreme, Stussy, Obey and Billionaires Boy Club, have been dominating the fashion industry. And it’s safe to say that '90s hip hop and pop culture fashion have been at the forefront of such dominance and the current rebirth of these vintage streetwear names.

 

Figure 1: Ed Hardy Streetwear Style (Highsnobiety)

Figure 1: Ed Hardy Streetwear Style (Highsnobiety)

 

From both celebrity association and logo-loving fashion buyers, Complex Magazine saw the link between personal street style and dressing to be a part of a wide subculture - almost like a streetwear community. Complex Magazine acknowledges how within the 90s, streetwear era, people bought into popular streetwear just to associate themselves with the brand. Adding that, ‘when these associations between people and brands grew’, along  did popularity of these hard-hitting labels! 

 

Ed Hardy

 

Anyone alive during the infamous Y2K era will recognise the hold Ed Hardy had within the streetwear scene. The brand’s unique bold prints, loud colours and tattoo-like artistry was enough to draw the attention towards streetwear enthusiasts at the rise and peak of its popularity. Brand creator, Don Ed Hardy stepped into the fashion scene, licensing his grand tattoo designs into the 00s brands first clothing line. 

 

Apart from Ed Hardy’s loud, yet influential clothing designs, becoming widely accessible throughout the brand’s 70 worldwide stores - the impact of of our top 00s celebs and pop culture stars seen to rock the largely desired brand is what made Ed Hardy dominate the iconic Y2K era. From LA pop-culture, royalty, to 00’s runway shows; the brand was a flourishing fashion phenomenon. Graphic hoodies, tees and basketball caps were prominent features of the true 00s brand, where these classic streetwear staples were seen all over city streets and tabloid magazines. 

 

Figure 2 - Ed Hardy on Runway (Pinterest)

Figure 2 - Ed Hardy on Runway (Pinterest)

 

Now, the comeback of Ed Hardy and its infamous tattoo-like designs and bold graphic prints, is one not easy to miss. Popular Gen Z, fashion influencers and popular online retailers have been seen to rock and sell redesigned staple pieces to fit today’s younger demographic. High-fashion model, Bella Hadid, has been recently seen to style a Ed Hardy baby tee and simple white trouser look, for a casual Y2K vibe, leading others to do the same. Interest and availability in vintage Ed Hardy clothing items through popular reselling platforms prove the dominance of this vintage streetwear to be very much prevalent.

 

Figure 3 - Bella Hadid in Ed Hardy (Pinterest)

Figure 3 - Bella Hadid in Ed Hardy (Pinterest)

 

Stüssy

 

Stüssy began its journey by thriving off of the easy-going, late 80s and early 90s Southern Californian surf scene. Stüssy itself recognised their ‘redefining look and ideology’ when it came to casual wear at the time. Organically the label grew, by correctly recognising the gaps in the clothing marketing and type of clothing and style that 90s youths love - skating, surf and music culture and casual streetwear style.

 

Figure 4 - Stüssy Origins (NatterJacks)

Figure 4 - Stüssy Origins (NatterJacks)

 



The dominance led by Stüssy’s revolutionary approach to clothing style and effortless understanding of casual surf style and culture, provided a great impact into the popular brand we know of today. 

 

As time went on, a shift in brand aesthetic and style took place. Inspired by prevalent music artists, DJs and famous fashion trend setters from around the LA, New York and London scene - Stüssy’s creative direction was seen to shift to primarily suit the needs and interests of streetwear culture.

 

Billionaire Boys Club -

 

Hip-hop and rapper culture cast heavy forms of inspiration for many streetwear brands, helping to lead the way toward clothing brand dominance! In fact, Billionaire Boys Club stands as no exception. Heavily influential through the music scene, Pharrell Williams partnered up with Bathing Ape Creator, Nigo, widely recognised fashion brand - Billionaire Boys Club. During 2003, the early 2000s showed heaps of enticing, new musical talent and cultural interest within both the American music and skater scene. Correctly jumping on board with this new wave of culture street style, the boys of Billionaire Boys Club took to creating skater-esque footwear lines, paired with their signature dollar-sign graphic.

 

Figure 5 - Pharrell Williams and Nigo of Billionaire Boys Club (The FADER)

Figure 5 - Pharrell Williams and Nigo of Billionaire Boys Club (The FADER)

 

Collaborating with successful LA-based rapper Jay-Z during 2011- Jay Z’s prominent popularity within the LA rap and hip-hop scene was an effective hit for the 00s streetwear brand. During the brand's rising success, the BBC was shown to recognise the admiration of the vintage brand. The news broadcaster stated that, ‘the year following Jay-Z partnership, the brand took home a high of $25 to $30 million in volume, up from $12 million the previous year. Thus, showcasing the hip-hop and rap culture as a defiant asset in landing their name as one of the world's most dominant vintage streetwear brands over the past years!

 

Obey

 

Coggles Life describes Obey as ‘one of society’s biggest streetwear brands’, and with the brand’s interesting history through the fashion scene only proves certain of the brand's hard working success. Recognised for its statement tees, snapbacks and statement logo standing bold - its simple red and white branding is widely recognised and admired throughout the streetwear scene. 

 

Beginning its journey back in 1989, Rhode Island School of Design student Shepard Fairley was shown to incorporate his love for graphic design and political activism into his creative work. With Fairley’s creation of his sticker campaign (later evolved into the ‘Obey Giant’ campaign), his use of social propaganda, street art and bold illustrations is what got people talking.

 

Figure 6 - Shepherd Fairley’s Obey Giant Design (Obey UK)

Figure 6 - Shepherd Fairley’s Obey Giant Design (Obey UK)

 

Through the success and recognition of Fairley’s stand-alone street art, he underwent a new venture with the launch of Obey Clothing. Taking the features of social propaganda, street art and bold illustration used throughout his sticker campaign to use throughout Obey’s iconic clothing pieces - the brand soon set sail for streetwear dominance!

 

Supreme

 

Perhaps saving the most legendary streetwear brand within today’s fashion scene till last? Yet, we aren’t biassed over here at Thrifted. Supreme ranks high as we look into defining vintage streetwear brands that have stormed from both the fashion and pop-culture realm. 

 

Mid 90s and only So-Ho, New York City based, Supreme creator, James Jebbia set out his brand by creating relevant clothing and skateboard designs. Through finding success in the 90s, Supreme found a way to oppose bigger streetwear brands around that time. Complex Magazine explains how by ‘staying underground and sticking to its core values of quality, exclusivity and rawness, its following quickly grew’. Leading Supreme to its global success and dominating presence we like to link the brand too today. 

 

Figure 7 - Founder, James Jebbia in Soho Office (2017) (Vogue)

Figure 7 - Founder, James Jebbia in Soho Office (2017) (Vogue)

 

Recent collaborations between top designer brand, Louis Vuitton, throughout Spring/Summer 2017, incorporated the infamous red and white branding we know to associate with the streetwear brand. Focusing on menswear designer pieces, Jebbia on outerwear jackets, backpacks, shirts, bandanas and skateboard trunks - paying homage to the brand’s early, skate-culture beginning. 

 

Figure 8 - Supreme x Louis Vuitton (The Fashion Spot)

Figure 8 - Supreme x Louis Vuitton (The Fashion Spot)

 

Due to Supreme’s high relevance within today’s streetwear and fashion scene, recent designer collabs (taking the media by storm), and sense of streetwear nostalgia -  it is only right for the brand to be considered as a dominating asset within the fashion realm.

 

Their prominent impact in today’s style

 

Now it’s safe to say that each sought after, vintage streetwear reeks dominance and creative influence towards the Gen Z era and emerging fashion brands. From their bold statement Y2K led designs to respected hip-hop and skater style and culture - each future acquired by all top five brands remaining heavily influential towards today’s on-trend style!

 

Today's digital creatives and Gen Z fashion icons are commonly drawn to the 90s and 00s fashion scene for street style inspiration and outfit guidance. And we only have our top five dominating vintage brands to thank for their impact!

 

For THRIFTED, we know that fashion is definitely cyclical. Brands that go from trendy to lame have the tendency to be 'trendy' again, even if it's decades later. So we keep a close eye on what styles are on demand and share pieces that are similar (if not, exactly the same) from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. A much better alternative to fast fashion brands. 

Check out our latest stock drops: 

 

Menswear - https://www.thrifted.com/collections/mens-just-in

Womenswear - https://www.thrifted.com/collections/just-in

 

References used: 

https://www.complex.com/style/the-best-brands-of-the-90s/

https://edhardyoriginals.com/pages/about 

https://www.instyle.com/fashion/ed-hardy-is-back 

https://www.stussy.com/pages/history-of-stussy

https://www.stussy.com/pages/history-of-stussy

https://www.coggles.com/life/fashion/obey-brand-history/

https://www.vogue.com/article/history-of-supreme-skate-clothing-brand



Pictures used:

Figure 1 - https://www.highsnobiety.com/p/unknown-ed-hardy-collection-release-info/

Figures 2/3 - http://www.pintrest.com 

Figure 4 - https://www.natterjacks.com/blog/flashback-friday-the-history-of-stussy/ 

Figure 5 - https://www.thefader.com/2016/01/22/pharrell-billionaire-boys-club/amp

Figure 6 - https://obeyclothing.co.uk/collections/artwork/prints/obey-icon-signed-offset-print-24-x-36/ 

Figure 7 - https://www.vogue.com/article/history-of-supreme-skate-clothing-brand 

Figure 8 - https://www.thefashionspot.com/runway-news/731253-louis-vuitton-x-supreme/ 

 

By Vanessa Smith

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