So… how do I defend without sounding defensive?
You could say I had a pretty interesting day. It started off with Complex publishing my “50 Greatest Streetwear Brands” list, eating gluten-free Chex cereal while watching KTLA 5 Morning News, segued into a generally positive response from the Streetwear community (friends and strangers alike), followed up with a disturbing amount of grown men acting like babies and resorting to name-calling to feel better about their dead-end careers and lives, and ended with Dom Deluca and Dante Ross jointly yelling at me at midnight to demand why Pervert wasn’t on the list (they’re right, Pervert probably should’ve been on the list.)
But that’s okay, as long as people are talking about Streetwear again, in a manner unseen since the third wave of the late 2000s. You see, “Streetwear” is a concept, so everyone will have their interpretation as to who should have or have not been included. That’s the point of lists like these, to engage discourse and debate. Even Ben, my own business partner, couldn’t stomach some of my picks (and, I mean, have you seen that stomach?)
Here are some of the more notable responses I got throughout the day and my responses.
There were plenty of the “What about Brand X?” clogging my Twitter feed today, and LRG comprised 80% of the call-outs. To clarify, in my personal definition of Streetwear, LRG is not. As I’ve always understood it, LRG is an “urban” brand (if I was forced to classify it) and if the list were “Top 50 Urban Brands,” you best believe I’d rank LRG first place. Jonas had said it himself, that LRG is NOT a Streetwear brand, it’s not skate, it’s not surf.. it’s for everyone. And that was always the intention of LRG – underground inventive, overground effective. The mission is to reach as broad of an audience as possible, to accept everyone and defy exclusivity. Core streetwear brands (the ones modeled after Stussy’s trajectory) approach the same problem with a different solution: limitedness (is that a word?). One is not necessarily better than the other, it’s just 2 different paths in the overall men’s apparel market.
As I’ve stated before, I have plenty of respect for LRG and what Jonas and Robert have done. I just don’t call them Streetwear, and I don’t think they would want that title either.
I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, I don’t even care about the ignorant name-calling. But what did bother me is that most of the hate came from people who are either not very smart, or just didn’t read the article at all. Morons asking why urban brands like Fubu and Ecko weren’t on the list, or how I could dare exclude a brand, when I had actually included it and they were too consumed with blinding streetwear rage to notice. Like my friend RZ here. aNYthing was #16, buddy. And do you think NDG would want to ever be included on a Streetwear list? Way to go, future of America.
And then there were those who felt I shafted a particular brand out of neglect or ignorance. Not true. Alphanumeric was definitely an influential men’s brand but I would situate them high up on a Top 50 Skate Brands list, over Streetwear. That’s just me, though.
Graffiti brands. I made a huge differentiation here. And it wasn’t so much the graffiti brands, as much as street artist-driven brands, like the aforementioned Rebel 8, 123 Klan, The Seventh Letter, and others like Upper Playground, Dissizit and Foreign Family. These brands really belong in a category all their own, because they cater to a slightly different image, clientele and marketplace. I’d even drop RVCA and Obey in there as the industry leaders, and o.g. brands like Tribal and CONART as the historic figures, all tied together through artist affiliations. The distribution and image of all these brands are subtly distinct from the Streetwear I’m talking about on my list.
Again, one is not better than the other. Some hotheads got it confused and read “Streetwear” as “Cooler than you,” when all it means is that it’s a different genre of young men’s clothing, with a different set of rules.
Funny also that no one ever wants anything to do with Streetwear, let alone be labeled as such, but as soon as you leave ‘em off a Streetwear list or don’t put them where they think they rank, they’re gung-ho Streetwear all the way.
I am genuinely scared of that girl Shannon. Don’t let that sweet cherubic smile fool you, she spits vitriolic hate worse than a horror-core rapper. I bet Shannon makes a living off writing Youtube comments. You can’t see it in her cropped avatar, but she’s holding a dead cat, which she killed with her own hands.
BUT. She and Brett bring up a good point: Johnny Cupcakes. Our crossover customer was stumped, “How could Bobby forget Johnny??!” The fact of the matter is that Johnny is a total asshole and you totally fell for it, I’m just kidding. The fact of the matter is that Johnny really doesn’t fit into this definition of Streetwear. He doesn’t fit into Skate either. He’s not Urban. You know what, I really don’t know how to categorize him, and I think that’s why Johnny Cupcakes is so successful. He’s always established his own market, own sales strategies, and customer. This guy built his own industry and he’s still the only player in it. I’d just say Johnny Cupcakes is a clothing brand. How about that?
I hope so. There were a few complaints that newer brands weren’t on the list. Most of those complaints came from me. I hope this list can encourage Streetwear supporters to ignite the next generation of brands and designers. So far, there’s a lot of upstarts out there, but only a few doing something truly original. I am anticipating the new wave to break down the walls, call brands like ours sell-outs, and take over. We’re not gonna pass the torch to you guys, you gotta come and take it. We’re waiting.
I still stand behind The Hundreds at #5. Sorry. Actually, no I’m not.
You’re welcome. And thank you for saying thank you.