Words: Junior Adesanya
The 2018 edition.
Last year we gave you a rundown of some of the best T-shirt brands to look out for in 2017. Well, it’s a new year and the new crop is already making waves. So without further delay, dig through our list of 20 brands we predict will put out some of the best tees this year.
Our first brand was established in 2012 by Masayuki Ino. Since then, the Japanese brand doublet has picked up a whole lot of speed, especially over the last year. Looking to Jun Takahashi of UNDERCOVER for inspiration, doublet’s pieces employ innovative techniques and unorthodox graphics, appropriating material to create pieces that are visually pleasing while leaving you asking “how did they even think of that?”
If you still don’t know about Stüssy, you need some new friends. The International Stussy Tribe, IST, or to most people just Stüssy was founded in the early 1980s by former skater Shawn Stussy. Tired of the dominating hip hop scene at the time – kids wearing Jordan gear head–to–toe, Shawn wanted to create something for the skate, surf and thrash kids to call their own. Fast forward thirty–plus years and Stüssy is still a staple. They have begun to look back to their original designs for inspiration in recent collections which I’m sure is welcomed by both fans young and old. In the words of an old Stüssy ad, “in this great future…you can’t forget your past.”
The brainchild of longtime Nigo collaborator Jun Takahashi, UNDERCOVER epitomises the essence of “Japanese cool”, producing finely crafted pieces that draw influence from punk and street fashion. Takahashi was heavily influenced by British Punk rock band The Sex Pistols, more specifically lead singer Johnny Rotten, who he was told he resembled. The brand was established in 1993 when Takahashi and Nigo opened up the store NOWHERE in the Tokyo district of Harajuku. Both Nowhere and UNDERCOVER took off and his work was soon at the epicenter of the fashion scene during the Ura-Harajuku Movement in the ’90s. By Takahashi’s own definition, UNDERCOVER is “strange, but beautiful.”
No Vacancy Inn
Tremaine Emory and Acyde are the minds behind No Vacancy Inn. Having initially met at a party a few years back, they’ve since become the guys-to-know when it comes to parties and fashion. Both boast reputable backgrounds in fashion and have worked on projects with the likes of Converse, Tom Sachs, A$AP Mob and Kanye West. Putting brand connections and famous friends aside, what truly defines the two is their amazing lack of ego and their unceasing faith in the next generation.
Sean Pablo is the 19 year old Supreme-affiliated skater and designer of graphic-based clothing label, PARADIS3. Mixing a range of religious iconography and undeniable skate flair, the brand has generated a significant buzz due to Pablo’s clout in the skateboarding world. Just another example which goes to show the tendency for Supreme-affiliation to inspire.
NOHANT is a unisex ready-to-wear label based in Seoul and founded with a fundamental premise – create a collection of iconic essentials that both men and women would want to wear everyday, with a focus on distinctive design, enduring style and uncompromising quality. They make some sweet tees too.
You know the whole high street metal tee phase thing? Step in Teejerker. This guy is the real deal. How, I hear you ask? The vintage band tee collector’s tees are all unique and original; sweat marks, rips, blood stains and all. Teejerker and his tees are the authentic version of the often confusing high-street trend.
London-based stylist and creative consultant Stephen Mann has been prepping the launch of his new brand AFFIX for a while now. The project, a partnership with the likes of Kiko Kostadinov, Taro Ray, and Michael Kopelman, launched at London Fashion Week, putting to use a new hand-held printer for one-of-one T-shirts at Dover Street Market.
“Hidden Mangroves cannot be found. It is not based in any location nor is it tangible. This is because our philosophy represents an acute state of mind. A state of existence through which escapism and the ability to detach oneself from the present is achieved through recreational activity. We aim to nurture this ideology with all creatives who share a similar reasoning. By entering this world you are actively submitting yourself to a form of transcendental liberation.” Trippy.
PS. You can usually find them in Dalston.
Founded in 2015, Nothin’Special is a streetwear label based in New York City’s Lower East Side, but hailing from Japan. The brand’s name is influenced by that of various subcultures, some that appear to be created out of nothing. Harnessing the street style of New York City and the attention to detail and quality of Japan makes for a cool concept and cool tees.
Best known as the contemporary culture magazine for art, fashion, and politics, 032c was founded in 2001 by Joerg Koch and is published in Berlin. 15+ years later and it is becoming just as known for merch as it is a magazine. From caps to branded tape (that they have cleverly packaged as a “DIY Branding Kit”), and of course tees, 032c is becoming a fashion brand in it’s own right, debuting it’s first full collection at Paris Fashion Week this year.
We’ve got a very fine Canadian export here in Dime. Behind the brand you’ll find Phil Lavoie, Antoine Asselin and Vince Tsang, who have been making waves with their brand since it’s beginning in the early 2000s. Part of their success is undoubtedly due to their childish playfulness when it comes to skateboarding, a success that’s led to collaborations with brands such as Vans and Alltimers.
Mr. Hodges’ garments have been essentials in the london creative scene over the last few years. From top magazines to music videos and more, you can’t look anywhere without catching a glimpse of his wide silhouettes or patch-worked panels.
Another one hailing from the humble roots of skate culture (and Supreme), Noah is an American men’s clothing brand founded by former Supreme creative director Brendon Babenzien. Brendon’s free-thinking vision has long been at the heart of the movement merging the rebellious vitality of skate, surf, and music cultures with an innovative appreciation to classic menswear. Noah was created to realize this vision fully, in an uncompromising pursuit of quality, integrity, and originality that puts the spotlight on brands being ethically conscious in today’s world of consumerism.
Where to start with Gimme Five? First established in 1989 by Michael Kopelman as an agency that represents, broadcasts, exhibits and designs, you’d most likely recognise their work in being the distributors for Stüssy, Patta, Brain Dead and Supreme throughout Europe, to name just a few. When they’re not managing the biggest streetwear brands in the world, launching new ones such as AFFIX, or broadcasting Know Wave from their London office, they somehow find time to produce their own merch, often referencing Michael’s deep love for music.
Come Sundown have a unique view of themselves and what they do. A view that I could never write better myself… “Once everything is gone and Earth is nothing more than a pockmarked moonscape, a rover similar to the one exploring Mars right now, will make its way across our once great land. As the rover examines samples of irradiated soil and transmits the data to the distant civilisation from which it came, it unknowingly parks above an artefact buried deep in a layer of sedimentary ash. It is possible that this artefact once bore the name Come Sundown.”
Japan native Ryohei Kawanishi is at the helm of LANDLORD as designer and creative director, having created the brand in 2015. He graduated from Parsons School of Design the same year with a Masters of Fine Arts in Fashion Design and Society, having studied at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in London in 2011, so he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the future of fashion design… tees too.
For those who don’t know Avi Gold, he grew up in downtown Vancouver where his interest in street culture was born. A longtime Sneeze Magazine contributor, Gold also has a hand in many other notable projects. Better (formerly Bootleg Is Better), has come into it’s own over the past year, ending 2017 with a pop-up at Dover Street Market in London. The brand, signified by its name, uses obvious points of reference for its design that can sometimes border on copyright infringement… or does it?
Another name associated with Dover Street Market, IDEA is actually the book concession store at DSM, sourcing some of the rarest and most interesting books from around the world and publishing their own to add to the pile. Outside of books, they also produce their own line of tees. The above is from a series in which they took the most popular images on their Instagram account, taken from books they sold, reached out to the creators of said images for permission and put those images on tees. Simply ingenious.
Our last brand is GRINDLONDON – not to be confused with the line of swanky coffee shops. The brand is a longtime London stalwart and has focused on developing an honest approach to what they label “road-ready” menswear, mixing original concepts with the brand’s own roots and culture. Drawing inspiration from many of London’s subcultures, past and present, they aim to embody all the good and bad that London has contributed to world attitudes, magnifying these qualities through their “clean and direct aesthetic.”