“We all deserve flowers.” So goes the slogan for Lagos based streetwear label Apaché. One of the fastest growing cities in the world, the Nigerian capital has a thriving design scene — that’s a lot of petals to pick through. With an emphasis on utopian longing and community, this streetwear brand blends earthy shades with relaxed skater silhouettes. Share the love by wearing the love.
Co-founded by Brick Owens and Dieter Grams in New York City, Bstroy presents as more than just a clothing brand. It’s a singular design identity connecting the alpha with the omega, linking the cycles of creation and death in its repeated motifs and circular iconography. If that sounds like it could be a little bit pretentious, let us assure you that the bold, retro-futuristic designs – mixing seventies and nineties past visions of the future – absolutely slap too.
Working closely with local artists in their hometown of Vancouver, since 2015 the founders of Crack Gallery have slowly built up a reputation for exhibiting daring urban and pop art, aiming to avoid the pretension of the city’s professionalised art world. As you would expect from a DIY project firmly integrated in its local community, their T Shirt designs are colourful, assertive and bursting with attitude.
Samantha Wendel’s T-shirt designs layer seventies typography on Grateful Dead styled tie-dye tones with rich and earthy visuals. Deep diving into stoner and psychedelic music culture, with homages to jazz musicians and prog rockers alike. Under her Dethscum moniker the artist uses the canvas of her Tees to merge tribute to the spirit of the ‘70s with an erratic contemporary vibe.
Fungibles continues the trend of small-scale style, taking the familiar elements of skatewear and mixing them with the unique desirability of hand-crafted pieces that are still rough around the edges. The scratch aesthetic is hard to pull off successfully, for sure. Fusing graffiti-style anti-iconography and stoner humour, judge Fungibles’ success for yourself.
Hidden PPF has grown from a well-established Instagram archive to a clothing brand in its own right. The reason for its success? With quickly identifiable signature forest green and chunky graphic design, the pieces are an argument for the fact that streetwear works best when it has a strong identity. PPF stands for past, present, and future: a reflection of where the designs are taking influences from.
When we create this annual list we try and dig around for stuff that’s so hype it’s barely even on the lips of the most in-the-know heads yet. Enter Hillside. Don’t be fooled by their tiny social following: Skepta has already been endorsing their ice-cold outerwear. The tees? Bold sloganeering, original illustration, and boxy fits.
Born in Tokyo and now based in London, Kozaburo studied at CSM before working under New York’s Thom Browne. While he’s trained under the higher echelons of fashion, Kozaburo’s work is full of love for the musical subcultures he holds dear. His designs draw on seventies punk stitching and nineties hippy-raver shapes, something of a recurring theme in our list this year. His tees tend to feature bold graphics, while also elevating his aesthetic interests into something new through the fine-cut shapes that reflect the prestige of his training.
Life is Unfair
With a publishing and print arm as well as a streetwear selection, London-based DIY-design crew Life is Unfair are conjuring magic from a basement somewhere in the depths of the city. Drawing on zine culture and the playful nihilism of punk’s history, the T-Shirts make a big splash. Horrorcore? They’ve done it. Cartoonish and grotesque iconoclasm? They have plenty of that, too. Grunge Jesus chic? Yep, they’ve even got heaps of that. What more could you possibly want? Whatever they do next, we’re sure it’ll be unexpected.
Indonesia has a buzzing local skate scene and a real love of streetwear subculture. Based in Jakarta, Locale is one of the major players. Drawing heavily on music and its counter-cultural histories, their latest designs are paying homage to ‘Rage’, with nods to the kings of rap-rock. “A fist in the air in the land of hypocrisy”? Indonesian youth have been fighting against conscription in recent years. Locale is providing the garments for young rebellion.
Taking influence from techno and rave culture, Japanese fashion brand NILØS is certainly striking. A gothic minimalism gives these T-Shirt designs a brooding sensibility, one which piqued our interest. The “Ø” represents the minimal space between “things and beings of nature,” apparently. So, if a lot of negative space sounds like something that’s on board with your aesthetic, this is the 2023 brand for you.
Another brand drawing on the styles and shapes of techno and rave wear, Opera Contagion is a Milan-based apparel collective. As the name might suggest, the T-Shirt design reflects a hyper-contemporary cyberpunk chic, the kind of pieces you might expect characters to wear in a William Gibson novel, with nods to classic 90s rave brands like Daniel Poole. Looking to get your freak on underneath the lasers or in the dark rooms? Opera Contagion just might have a piece for you.
The second of the Indonesian streetwear brands under the Everpress spotlight, Our Leisure’s T-Shirt designs are paying homage to 80s crust punk, skinhead and oi culture. Crass? Of course. And that’s exactly why we love it. The screenprint-like style is matched with sharp attention to detail, with great fits and contrast stitching – because even punks care about looking slick. And if you prefer your style a bit more aggro, you could even take scissors and safety pins to these pieces.
Paradise Youth Club
Based in Jakarta, Paradise Youth Club’s designs are suffused with the influence of 90s cartoonish excess. With a style reminiscent of Garbage Pail Kids’ trading cards, neon cereal boxes, Marilyn Manson music videos, and skateboarding extra terrestrials, there’s a lot going on for sure. Just as well that a savvy, streetwear sensibility blends the elements into something utterly wearable.
The latest global city to get hit by the laptop mafia, is anyone not passing through Mexico City these days? Sauna Store is a CDMX-based T-Shirt brand that mixes the grungy with the cartoonish in its scratchy pieces. Recent collaborations include designs made by the Korean artists Jihwan Kim and Sungsig Min, under their shared Dead People Good People moniker.
Sky High Farm Workwear
If we had to pick a favourite from this list, it might be Sky High Farm, whose dreamy stoner workwear is a delightful contradiction for all the cottage-core enthusiasts dreaming of having a shovel or hoe in their hand. Bandana colours, bubble writing, and tie-dye are the defining features of the T-Shirt design here. So, whether you’re yearning to go back to the land or just back to bed for a few hours, it’s worth checking out these cutesy, rustic pieces – before the cows come home.
Equally as influenced by the ancient as the modern, womenswear designer Taro Horiuchi cut his teeth in Antwerp at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. With a recent shift toward reinventing classic pieces in his practice, he’s putting his training to use by giving a smart twist to wearable pieces, picking up new inspiration from his country’s penchant for streetwear. His latest drop-shoulder tees fuse shades of aquamarine and turquoise into an aquatic splendour.
Tribe of God
With pop-ups in Lagos and across their native Ghana, last year was a big one for Tribe of God. Based in Accra, their T-Shirt designs are full of homage to streetwear legend Virgil Abloh, whose parents were from the country. With a mission statement based around community and worship, the reworking of biblical imagery puts a fresh twist on classic themes. West Africa is fast becoming a hotbed for unfiltered streetwear. Could this be the year that Tribe of God steps into the limelight?
Waste Store London
Opening in London in December 2021, Waste Store is a weirdo gem in a city that feels scarce on nice surprises. Run by Roydon Misseldine and Jack Mitchell, their little boutique is a hoarders’ paradise – as soon as you walk past the fibreglass E.T. figure and through the door you enter a time portal: zine culture, mind bending illustration, and 80s and 90s delights inside. What’s more, the guys are screen printing their own T-Shirt designs and stocking a bunch of cool stuff made by their friends.
What Would You Do
Mixing the kawaii with the cool, Lagos-based brand What Would You Do has got us especially excited. The T-Shirt designs are packed with pastel pinks, bright greens, with bubble patterns and baby rib trims abounding. You can pick up one of these pieces at Street Souk, the fashion event launched in 2018 by Iretidayo Zaccheaus, with a little help from the much missed Virgil Abloh. Nigeria is a hotbed of talent, and their creatives have the nous to match their artistic skills, too. Help put them on the map.