Despite what some say (hi, Virgil), new-wave streetwear has proven to be anything but dead. Since its first shaky steps, through ‘80s rappers and ‘90s skaters, streetwear has consistently reinvented itself through the hands of cultural tastemakers who dare to think differently. Streetwear is the uniform of the rule-breakers and game changers of every generation—and stitching this uniform is no easy task. The streetwear designer is able to stay immersed in the subculture while always looking ahead, winking at the sartorial tides to come. Capturing the essence of a point in time while propelling it further is complex—and today, at the crossroads of multiple social and cultural revolutions, self-expression is more vital than ever. Designers on the scene today are impassioned, unwavering, and unapologetic in ways that few have pulled off before. Watch this space for 10 emerging streetwear designers currently storming the industry, upcycled knitwear and bedazzled denim in tow.
WHO DECIDES WAR
Everard Best jumped into streetwear under the direction of Virgil Abloh before launching his own brand, Ev Bravado, in 2016. The music-infused label quickly swept the industry with its perfectly worn denim, ultra saturated colorways, and hand-embellished pieces. Last year Best showed at Paris Men’s Fashion Week under a new name—WHO DECIDES WAR, a nod to the brand’s themes of self-awareness and conflict—but with the same rhinestone-distressed denim, hand-dyed coats, and cheeky knits that first captured Best’s loyal following of hip hop titans and streetwear legends.
Austin Babbitt, lovingly referred to by his eponymous label ASSPIZZA, embodies the hustle mentality of streetwear like no one else. The high school dropout-turned-accidental fashion icon got his start making bootlegs—even dealing Gildan lookalikes outside Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo pop-ups, until Babbitt’s DIYs caught West’s eye and ended up inside alongside the actual Yeezy merchandise. No cut-and-sew piece in any of ASSPIZZA’s sporadic drops, from reworked beanie ski masks to upcycled patched denim, is like the other. From the hand-painted graffiti markings to the order process itself, everything about ASSPIZZA is as mysterious as it is inimitable.
Although it’s been less than three years since Indiana natives David Norris and Evan Lutes launched KITO, the brand’s futuristic infusion of technology and design has already attracted a client list that rivals streetwear veterans. KITO’s color-changing Heat Sense bag and B.B. Simon belt has since been snapped on streetwear style icons from Billie Eilish to Quavo, and a TRILL-exclusive capsule of catacomb-printed MLB hats sold out within hours. With a range of customized favorites on the Fall/Winter docket, including Air Force 1’s and SB Dunks, KITO is just getting started.
TRILL Select: KITO Catacombs x Yankees Fitted Cap, $55
John Michael launched 4×1111 in 2019 with just $75 worth of supplies, but his wearable art has since become the center of bloodthirsty Supreme-style drops that sell out within minutes. The Texas label is the height of bespoke—every single item is either collaboratively designed between a customer and Michael, or crafted by the designer himself with only recycled materials. There are pants stitched from T-shirts, shirts with actual bullet holes, and pop cultural crewnecks knitted from vintage tapestries (The 1969 moon landing? A$AP Rocky album cover? 2007-era Britney Spears with a shaved head? You got it).
What happens when you combine the aesthetic remixing of Dapper Dan with the trip-inducing color wheel of Takashi Murakami? It would probably look a little something like Tony Rainwater. The New York-based maximalist transforms each of his staple silhouettes by hand, cloaking carpenter pants or denim jackets with distorted luxury logos, manga cover art, and psychedelic doodles. The kaleidoscopic designs have no shortage of demand—but thanks to Rainwater’s made-to-order model, nothing is ever out of stock.
TRILL Select: Dior Felix Pack, $140
It’s easy to pass off customized Air Force 1’s as an Instagram-sweeping trend, but Keagan Hoffman’s Chain Forces have been an underground grail since his first draft in 2017. Every pair of armor-inspired Chain Force 0’s is cloaked in chains, hardware, rhinestones, and sometimes even barbed wire, for a growing waitlist that includes the likes of Playboi Carti. Hoffman’s clothing line, 1999-????, expands on the gothic inspiration behind his namesake sneakers through an array of hardware-covered hoodies and tees.
Sergio Scott founded Nineteenth Letter in 2013, with a photographic archive of pop culture and vintage design. Since then, the brand has transformed some of the most recognizable motifs of pop culture into one-of-one investment pieces unlike anything else. Logos from Astroworld to Apple, Chicago Bulls to Los Angeles Lakers, and Kanye West’s entire discography are remixed on Nineteenth Letter’s silken varsity jackets, drawstring shorts, and classic graphic T-shirts. In addition to putting his city firmly on the map as a fashion hot spot, Scott has used his pithy designs to raise awareness of Chicago’s escalating violence and systematic racism.
TRILL Select: Apple Basketball Shorts, $60
Almost Gods was founded on the mission of preserving streetwear’s roots: disruption, innovation, and collaboration. The New Dehli-based brand succeeds in more ways than one—its unisex sizing and maximalist prints are relatively new to the oft-overlooked Indian streetwear scene. Designers Kobi Walsh and Dhruv Khurana weave homages to their country throughout every piece, whether through lush tapestry or hyper-pigmented traditional graphics, but their modern cuts and functional versatility make Almost Gods undeniably universal.
TRILL Select: The “Garden of Earthly Desires” Jacket, $360
Colm Dillane, perhaps better known as KidSuper, is nothing if not a streetwear renaissance man. KidSuper Studios encompasses everything from art shows to music videos, but it’s Dillane’s streetwear-adjacent clothing line that put his name firmly in the lingua franca. With a driving message of carefree enthusiasm and freedom, KidSuper’s irreverent designs range from matador-inspired suede jackets to colorful farm-raised wool sweaters. The label’s seasonless collection of tie-dyed sweats and graphic tees, often handpainted by Dillane himself, have fans in style icons like DaBaby and Post Malone.
The creative fire and cultural fabric of Los Angeles is something countless streetwear brands try to capture, but few are as successful as EYECRAVE. ‘00s-inspired throwbacks—think rhinestone-embedded jeans, studded bucket hats, and skull-printed hoodies—boast sleek cuts and versatile colors that feel anything but dated. The buzzing streets of LA serve as both EYECRAVE’s backdrop and inspiration, echoed in each piece’s individuality and quiet coolness.
To cop pieces from these designers and others like them, check out their websites—or save yourself some time and head to TRILL, the marketplace of independent streetwear and unique designers.