The HYPEBEAST 2020 HYPEAWARDS is the celebration of brands, designers, partnerships and products that have greatly influenced fashion and sneaker culture this year. We honor the winners for their acuity in design but also recognize them for their ability to impart excitement and confidence amongst consumers, critics and the communities they’ve fostered.
Louis Vuitton makes a repeat appearance with continued dominance in luxury menswear. Helmed by industry star Virgil Abloh, the fashion house delivered one of the most exciting collaborations of the year, the NIGO x Virgil Abloh LV² collection. Marine Serre also gets recognition in womenswear. The young designer experienced rapid growth in her creative field, all while staying dedicated to sustainability.
In footwear, New Balance tops Nike in 2020, proving the brand has just as much design and collaborative clout as the Swoosh and Three stripes. Ultimately, the sneaker of the year belongs to none other than the Dior x Air Jordan 1. The model epitomized the worlds of sneaker culture and luxury and is proof of designer Kim Jones’ lasting influence in high fashion and streetwear.
Like other luxury brands, Louis Vuitton struggled this year as brick-and-mortar sales dipped due to the global coronavirus pandemic. However, LV made the move to scale up its e-commerce operations which helped it find its footing once more. Menswear was a driving force in the house’s efforts to increase sales again. Virgil Abloh’s SS21 collection was a prime example. The label’s Shanghai flagship shattered records with $22 million USD in August sales — consumers flocked to the store to spend immediately after witnessing Abloh’s impressive seasonal presentation.
In terms of street culture and collaborative cache, LV was unmatched in 2020. A historic partnership with the National Basketball Association caused headlines in both the fashion and sports worlds. The NBA logo appearing alongside the renowned LV monogram on some of the garments, accessories and leather goods was enough to entice a new generation of basketball and Louis Vuitton fans. However, the biggest highlight for the house’s menswear this season was Abloh’s work with NIGO. The two streetwear legends created the highly-coveted NIGO x Virgil Abloh LV² collection. High fashion and streetwear fans were in for a treat as the partnership yielded refined denim pieces, sharp suiting, quality leather goods and creative footwear.
French designer Marine Serre finds beauty in chaos, able to craft awe-inspiring garments from unwanted pieces of fabric and upcycled materials. She ensures that at least 50% of the garments in each of her collections are made this way. It’s a testament to Serre’s unyielding push for sustainability which has won her over many fans and celebrity customers.
This year, Serre won the prestigious ANDAM Family Fund Award — she received the top prize of $224,000 USD alongside Y/Project. The recognition was rightfully earned as fashion experts lauded the designer for her ambitious collections, presentations and ongoing fight to help the environment. Her FW20 show acknowledged the wildfires and climate change with protective-inspired designs. Numerous campaigns from the house also utilized dystopian and post-apocalyptic imagery to get the message of environmental care across.
Serre is already a fashion darling in the industry but her consistency and clear creative output every year will likely make her the next big legacy name in fashion.
New Balance was consistent with the hits in 2020. It stayed true to its streamlined ethos regardless of whether a shoe was a general release or a major partnership drop. This disciplined practice isn’t something new for the brand but it did help garner it more of a following this year. Some drops worth mentioning include the vibrant Salehe Bembury x New Balance 2002R, the JJJJound x New Balance 992 and the collaborative Jaden Smith models which proved that NB also has the lifestyle partnership game on lock.
The athletic brand’s signature Kawhi Leonard kicks also started to get more momentum. Multiple special releases in various colorways and themes signal a strong future for the signature shoe. Lastly, in terms of improving community efforts, New Balance donated 10,000 pairs of shoes to Black organizations in Atlanta in June in memory of the fallen Ahmaud Arbery.
NIGO x Virgil Abloh LV² delivered on all fronts of the streetwear-meets-high-fashion hype. You have two streetwear titans who came together to design pieces for the most valuable luxury brand in the world. The partnership was evidence of how far Virgil Abloh has come in the industry and how NIGO is still able to influence consumers at a global scale.
Released as multiple drops on different dates, the NIGO x Virgil Abloh LV² was a fine mix of elevated casual pieces and luxury tailoring. The denim collection were quick standouts as it clearly reflected NIGO’s love for the ubiquitous fabric. Abloh’s newfound obsession for suiting was also evident in the way he and the Japanese designer worked in patchwork elements and popular LV patterns into suits, ties, trousers and coats.
It’s worth saying that th collaboration between Abloh and NIGO was one for the history books, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the duo revisited their partnership again in the near future.
2020 was filled with numerous general releases and collaborative drops that excited footwear fans. But there was only one shoe that caused mass hysteria amongst sneakerheads worldwide this year. The Dior x Air Jordan 1 High OG was a release like no other. For one, it was dropped at the height of the coronavirus epidemic — this caused Dior to delay the release to ensure pairs didn’t make it to physical stores. Different release dates also swirled around the internet and social media causing frustration and impatience amongst die-hard collectors waiting to get their hands on the model. To add to the madness, there was mismatching information on the total number of units available to the public, as well as whether online signups were raffles or a simple first-come-first-serve purchase routine. Fears of bots rigging the system also triggered consumers but Dior assured that their system was safe from hackers and tech-savvy cheaters.
When the Dior x Air Jordan 1 High OG finally saw the light of day, it was reported that more than five million people tried their luck online to grab one of the 8,000 pairs offered. The hype for the shoe definitely reached a boiling point as Travis Scott was one of the first style icons to wear the design. Then, reselling platforms started offering pairs of the shoe at ridiculous prices. At the moment, the Dior x Air Jordan 1 High OG is currently selling for as much as $20,000 USD on sites like StockX and GOAT.