For 2019, our HYPEAWARDS wanted to encapsulate the wide array of creative talent within our core categories of fashion and footwear. Menswear and Womenswear brands stood out among the sea of brands, but it would have been impossible to ignore the emerging talent within this labels as well, therefore we felt it important to highlight these brands as well separately. Footwear and Sneaker of the Year receives acknowledgement, along with this year’s highlight collaboration.
Louis Vuitton’s rise to dominance stood out in 2019 with its globalization efforts in leather manufacturing, while cementing its stronghold on streetwear under the artistic direction of Virgil Abloh for the brand’s second year. Likewise, Chitose Abe’s sacai has transcended beyond her initial vision for the fashion brand, having recently taken part in collaborative efforts in tech, lifestyle and even beauty.
NYC-based BODE and British brand Richard Quinn receive accolade in the Emerging fields of menswear and womenswear respectively, while Nike’s push towards innovation and inclusivity give it the Best Footwear brand award as well as the Sneaker choice with collaborator sacai.
And lastly, speaking of collaborative efforts, Japanese label UNDERCOVER’s work with Italian luxury label Valentino surprise at Paris Fashion Week 2019 proving the latter’s openness to “new opportunities,” as quoted by the brand’s director Pierpaolo Piccioli.
Louis Vuitton’s global presence under the LVMH conglomerate continues to be unmatched and 2019 was a big year for the Paris-based label when it came to dominating the menswear circuit. With renowned designer Virgil Abloh at the helm, LV’s men’s division redefined the relationship between streetwear and luxury, blurring the lines even further with daring designs that teetered along the avant garde as well as offering more couture creations. Abloh’s vision for 2019 also defied conventional luxury norms as the creative went above and beyond to wow the industry at his runway shows and global pop-up activations. For 2019, LV will be remembered for its oversized backpacks, light-up OLED detailed duffles, iridescent accessories, patchwork outerwear and colorful retro kicks like the show-stopping LV 408 trainer. As if that wasn’t enough, the awe-inspiring retail experiences for these products also brought in massive lines, attracting young power-spending consumers hungry for the next cool thing. And the “youth” is still what drives Abloh and LV as the industry’s luxury enthusiasts are in-fact getting younger. It’s all part of Louis Vuitton’s grand strategy as the Parisian label looks to hold the crown as the best and most profitable luxury brand in the world for more years to come.
Since Chitose Abe founded sacai in 1999, the Japanese label has grown to become one of the biggest and most sought-after brands in the industry. Having worked under names like Junya Watanabe and Rei Kawakubo at COMME des GARÇONS, Abe famously combines elements inspired by her Japanese heritage with modern techniques and silhouettes, creating pieces that are intricate yet wearable.
In recent years, Chitose Abe has grown sacai’s presence beyond the fashion world through collaborations with brands like Porter, Beats by Dre, and most recently Nike, proving that the Japanese label is adaptable and that the brand translates across multiple realms with ease. Whether it is sneakers, skincare, technology or everything in-between, Chitose Abe always makes sure that each and every piece sacai creates stays true to her vision and the label’s ethos.
Chitose Abe’s sacai show has become one of the most anticipated events on the Paris Fashion Week schedule, constantly taking the brand to new heights through innovative use of material, experimental silhouettes and focus on craftsmanship. Wrapping up 2019 with a final Nike sneaker collaboration, sacai takes home our award for Best Womenswear Brand.
Emily Adams Bode exploded in popularity the year after HYPEBEAST nominated her as one of 2018’s top emerging brands, primarily building upon her success of her CFDA runner-up nod. Appropriately, Bode’s eponymous brand expanded its output, delivering the handmade craftsmanship its fans have come to expect alongside more accessible pieces crafted from deadstock and rare fabrics, an appreciable blend that makes for a more approachable brand. Retailer-exclusive drops and nominations for the LVMH and Woolmark prizes bolstered the young label’s status, growing its influence enough for Bode — who was the first woman to show a menswear collection during New York Fashion Week Men’s — to take her fan-favorite Fashion Week presentations to the runways of Paris. That doesn’t mean that the New York label has forgotten its roots, however, as Bode opened her very own Big Apple flagship store in late 2019.
Following his graduation from London’s prestigious Central Saint Martins MA Fashion course in 2016, Richard Quinn’s eponymous label has become one to watch. Specializing in womenswear, the designer has become known for his bold use of eclectic colors and prints, often involving floral patterns and eye-catching graphics. Quinn’s unique aesthetic and eye for detail earned him royal recognition in 2018, when the designer was presented with the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design by Queen Elizabeth II, and his collections have been picked up by retailers like MATCHESFASHION and MACHINE-A.
In 2019 Quinn became one of the most talked-about designers, after his extravangant creations were worn by the likes of Kendall Jenner, Lizzo and Jonathan Van Ness, and of course, Cardi B at Paris Fashion Week. With only four seasons under his belt, Quinn is only just getting started, but is already one of the most buzzing designers to keep an eye on as he is guaranteed to become one of the biggest names in the industry.
For the third consecutive time, Nike is our Footwear Brand of the Year, and it did so on a four-prong effort. Starting with the brand’s founding principle, innovation, the Beaverton, Oregon mammoth delivered some of the market’s leading performance technologies, including the self-lacing cross trainer, the Adapt-Huarache, and the under-IAAF-investigation ZoomX Vaporfly Next% prototype that helped Eliud Kipchoge run the world’s first sub-two-hour marathon. What’s more is that Nike also excelled in digital innovation, reinvigorating sneakerhead culture for the new age with the SNKRS app and its myriad of interactive, experiential features.
Secondly, the Swoosh defended its reigning hype title, dropping collaborations with the biggest artists, musicians, designers and pop culture icons in all of the world, from Tom Sachs and G-Dragon to Chitose Abe and SpongeBob SquarePants. Nike also continued its push for a more responsible and sustainable footwear and apparel industry. Its “Move to Zero” initiative commits to a zero-carbon and zero-waste system; its newest European distribution center is powered entirely by renewable energy; it joined the United Nations‘ Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action; and it co-authored the “Circular Design Guide” in collaboration with Central Saint Martins and University of the Arts London, among a number of additional eco-conscious projects.
Lastly, Nike made leaps in its pledge to inclusivity, especially after a 2018 shrouded in discrimation claims. The brand won an Emmy for its Colin Kaepernick starring “Dream Crazy” campaign; unveiled the ultra-comfortable Air pulse for medical workers; and worked with budding creatives all over the globe on stories and products that not only brought a voice to their communities but also real, genuine support.
Nike closed out the decade where it began: atop the footwear game. The next 10 years however are fully up for grabs, waiting on the next scalable innovation that’ll change footwear for generations to come.
Despite being known for its lauded collaborations for more than two decades, UNDERCOVER surprised its fans and the high fashion crowd when it debuted its team-up with Valentino at Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2019. Following the initial unveil, Valentino displayed even more items created in partnership with Jun Takahashi’s label at its FW19 presentation. Titled “Past and Future,” the special range is riddled with space-age prints and UFO imagery, all layered atop of Valentino’s typically lush garments. The collision with UNDERCOVER serves as the latest in Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli’s move to transform Valentino through being "more inclusive and open to new opportunities." Offering a shift centered around refined tailoring and street-conscious comfort, that has given the Italian label somewhat of a second life. Additionally, the collaboration not only highlights high fashion reverence for the Japanese label but an increased openness to the so-called “streetwear” realm that has come to the forefront in recent years.
Following a series of teasers, sacai’s debut collaboration with Nike was officially unveiled at designer Chitose Abe’s Fall/Winter 2019 presentation at Paris Fashion Week. Serving as the most notable sneaker explorations from the annual fashion celebration, the LDV Waffle Daybreak and Blazer High reimaginations generated widespread hysteria through the sneaker world. The two inventive shoes blended the “Blazer With the Dunk” and “LDV With the Waffle Daybreak” in an expression of maximalist juxtaposition. Abe crafted original designs centered around multi-color constructions, accented by doubled tongues, paired laces, aggressive midsoles and stacked Swooshes. Standing out amongst the countless collaboration that came in 2019, the sacai x Nike LDV Waffle Daybreak and Blazer High helped usher in interest in heritage models, served as Fashion Week essentials. As we move into 2020, the two models also continue to remain popular as follow-up colorways are rumored to be on the way.