2018 was the year legacy luxury houses focused their efforts on reinvention. Overall brand identity and even product designs received major changes as seen with Burberry, Celine and Balmain. Louis Vuitton made monumental headlines when it hired Off-White™ designer Virgil Abloh, signaling that competition for innovation in the industry is at an all-time high. Women's labels too are feeling the shift with proven designers like Simone Rocha and Chitose Abe finding new ways to impress consumers, while promising names such as Danielle Cathari and Marine Serre are deservingly stepping into the limelight. Finally, collabs this year made history with Palace x Ralph Lauren and sneaker brands teaming up alongside newer designers to produce some of the best models as of late. Our nominees and winners for the HYPEAWARDS have been carefully chosen in terms of industry impact, lasting power and dedication to excellence. These are the names whose 2018 not only concentrated on individual growth but also on the advancement of culture and community.
Select Award Category
Best Menswear Brand
Louis Vuitton
Paul Mougeot/HYPEBEAST Magazine
Louis Vuitton showed no signs of slowing down in 2018. At the end of March, the legacy fashion house hired Off-White™ designer Virgil Abloh as its newest Men’s Artistic Director. It was perhaps the most monumental industry move to happen this year. LV’s Spring/Summer presentation was an emotional one with Abloh breaking into tears while hugging Kanye West on the Wizard of Oz-themed set. The clothes themselves showcased the American multihyphenate’s well-known method of creating familiar streetwear tropes with an elevated spin. Already previewed, fans of the brand can expect inventive tailoring, leather harnesses, iridescent materials and luxe sneakers in the coming year. Elsewhere in 2018, Louis Vuitton finally released the much-anticipated chunky Archlight shoe and was named the world’s most valuable luxury brand. The latter achievement cemented LV’s dominance over other fashion powerhouses such as Chanel, Hermés and Gucci.
Prada, Alyx, Palace, and Balenciaga
Best Womenswear Brand
Victoria Beckham
Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage
Victoria Beckham has had a lot to prove as a womenswear designer. Not only is she up against some of the greatest talents in the industry, but she’s also had to overcome the unshakeable shadow of her Posh Spice persona and marriage to former soccer superstar David Beckham. Yet after a decade in the business, Beckham stands firmly as a powerhouse fashion label who has amassed a strong following through minimal, yet chic designs. With a genuine “I am my customer” approach, the 44-year-old creative constructs clothes that women want to wear — empowering garments that speak to all generations, ages and backgrounds. Her signature powersuits, razor sharp lines, effortless grace and unfussy silhouettes translate to an ageless modernity that’s resiliently feminine — Beckham’s 2018/2019 collections were a clear standout against a sea of traditional-turned-streetwear luxury brands. To add to all her accomplishments, it’s important to note that she’s also a brilliant mother of four children.
Simone Rocha, Prada, Sacai, and Jacquemus
Best Emerging Menswear Brand
Union Los Angeles
Aaron Miller/HYPEKIDS
Union LA may have been around as a streetwear boutique for a while now, but 2018 saw its private label reach new heights. After launching back in November last year, the imprint kicked off 2018 with its Spring/Summer capsule — owner Chris Gibbs described the range as “subtle products with a twist.” The collective featured Japanese-made fabrics alongside references to the Black Power movement. As well as its own collections, 2018 saw Union LA step-up its collaborations, evidenced by partnerships with Pleasures, Girls Don’t Cry, adidas Spezial and ALYX. The highlight collaboration, though, was the label’s Jordan Brand collection which included two highly-coveted AJ1 colorways and a capsule of vintage-inspired sportswear. 2018 was Union LA’s first full year as a clothing brand and a prime example of Gibbs’ unrelentless drive to cement Union as a respected household name in street culture.
Online Ceramics, Pyer Moss, and Awake
Best Emerging Womenswear Brand
Marine Serre
Marc Piasecki/ Getty Images
26-year-old French designer Marine Serre was one of this year’s breakout designers. She’s achieved much praise from her industry contemporaries with only four seasons of work and two runway shows under her belt. Since winning the LVMH Prize for the Young Fashion Designers category in 2017, Marine Serre’s street chic creations have been worn by the likes of Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid. She’s even produced exclusive collaborations for global retailers MATCHESFASHION as well as Dover Street Market. Serre is continually lauded for her youthful and whimsicial aesthetic, paving the way for the next generation of designers waiting to break into the industry. 2018 was just the tip of the iceberg and its almost guaranteed that her presentations next year will be amongst the must-see shows during fashion week.
Danielle Cathari, GANNI, Pyer Moss, and Studio Alch
Best Footwear Brand
2018 picked up where 2017 left off, with Nike back atop an industry it helped pioneer: sneakers. With its top competitors losing steam, the Beaverton-based sportswear brand used the success of last year’s Virgil Abloh collection, The Ten, to challenge a new crop of cultural juggernauts to out-innovate the innovator. Among them, Jerry Lorenzo’s Fear of God 1 found a balance of style and performance that has often eluded Nike Basketball, while iconic models like the Air Force 1 received reinterpretations from names like Supreme, Travis Scott, A-COLD-WALL*, John Elliot and others. Nike SB even returned to the spotlight this year with collaborations from Stüssy, Concepts, Diamond Supply Co. and the NBA. Elsewhere, January’s release of the UltraBOOST killer, the Epic React, helped fill a void left by 2012’s Racer silhouette, but it was the runner’s more-casual cousin, the React Element, that would become 2018’s sneaker of the year. What brings all of the hype together is Nike’s ability to deliver all of this exciting product to its consumers swiftly and with little complications, by way of Amazon-rivaling experimental shopping experiences and a superior digital platform.
adidas, Converse, New Balance, and Asics
Best Collaboration
Palace x Polo Ralph Lauren
Unveiled via a string of billboards around the world, the unexpected team up between London skate label Palace and the All-American Polo Ralph Lauren this year proved the endless possibilities of collaborations. Simply put, Palace co-founders Lev Tanju and Gareth Skewis looked to give their fans something they didn’t know they needed. The duo noted that the partnership was “a dream come true” and that they “aimed to create a timeless collection that represents a love letter from a young London skateboard company to their favorite brand in the universe.” Coinciding with the opening of Palace’s new Shibuya flagship, the Polo Ralph Lauren collab marked a number of things this 2018. Most notably, the release increased the skate label’s global reputation and helped spotlight Polo’s stance as a lasting socio-cultural vanguard.
Rimowa x Off-White™, POKÉMON x fragment design, Nike x Alyx, and Union x Jordan
Best Sneaker
Nike React Element 87
Back in June, Nike officially revealed the React Element 87 model which was first seen on the Paris runway in January as a collaborative sneaker alongside Jun Takahashi’s UNDERCOVER line. The initial response was energetic as fans couldn’t wait to get a hold of the silhouette, regardless if it was a general release or a collaborative drop. The widespread adoration for the kicks stems from its overall design — the translucent upper allows wearers to play around with color when wearing statement socks. As for functionality, the lightweight outsole achieves maximum comfort and cushioning as a result of its signature “drill-to-foam” process. Exposed stitching and 3M reflective hits provide more head-turning details, making this particular shoe extremely photogenic. A clear standout amongst the countless new sneaker designs that came out in 2018, 2019 is another promising chapter for the model as surely more colorways and collabs are on the horizon.
YEEZY 500, Union x Air Jordan 1, Asics x Kiko Kostadinov, and Golf le Fleur x Converse
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