The year of 2014 was a weird one in terms of our annual best-of list. In 2012 when Supreme sued Married to the Mob, we said the event would mark the end of streetwear as a movement and it feels like two years later that prediction has come to fruition. Yes, there still are “streetwear” brands, some are even included on our list below, but with a mega corporation like Chanel showing sneakers on its runway and many other establishment labels
stealing embracing looks from the culture and authentic brands themselves selling to major retailers, the punk aspects feel no more. Which is fine, rebel movements come and go and have their days in the sun, everything is a cycle, but for this year anyway it made it harder for us to find items that pop. Just saying. Something has shifted in the universe and things feel a tad wishy-washy in the collective unconscious of fashion.
And yet, find items we did. They include sneakers, collaborations, fashion shows and basically anything that induced memorable moments of joy.
Azealia Banks Hot97 interview: Finally this year after being released from her label, Banks was able to deliver on the promise of “212” with her album, Broke With Expensive Taste. During her period of suspended animation, Banks was able to maintain relevancy by leveraging her bold and unapologetic personality to the max and at the same time staved off the rap dictate whereby only two females can be allowed to achieve widespread fame. Using Twitter as her main platform, Banks very loudly spoke her truth, taking on whomever and whatever crossed her path inevitably finding ways to irritate even some of her most ardent fans aka the “Kunt Brigade.” Her interview on Hot97 qualifies as a crystallized moment when we were able to see a more three-dimensional, greater than 140 characters version of Banks. Her tearful confessions on the pain of having her art ripped away from her and her explanation of “cultural smudging” won her raised fists of support from many and qualifies as a hall of fame moment in the history of hiphop.
Female musicians: Past all the clapback are an amazing roster of women making impressive music that blew us away all year: Jungle Pussy, Leikeli47, SZA, Shyvonne, Yuna, Tink, Rocky Rivera, FKA Twigs, Lil Debbie, Lykke Li, Kilo Kish, Lana del Rey, Tia No More, Kehlani, Chynna Rogers and many we imagine are not on our radar. Women are truly doing it for and by themselves, which is an amazing form of progress they can feel great about putting in the positive progress column.
Alexander Wang Spring 2015 sneaker-inspired collection: Alex is funny, we all know he loves sneakers and rap music and yet, in his day to day, he keeps the culture at arms distance and by and large mainly rubs shoulders with the fashion establishment.We sometimes feel a way about it but then he goes and shows something that is amazing and brilliant and fresh and we forgive him and all things are new again. Thus was the case with his Spring 2015 collection that included multiple looks inspired by some of the sneaker world’s most iconic designs, starting with Adidas’s Stan Smith. And then those knit dresses super-imposed with sneaker uppers and the heels with a woven upper? Ugh, sickening, every bit of it.
Alexander Wang x H&M: Unlike prior collaborators who have worked off of their archives, Wang chose to design all new items for his long-awaited collaboration. The result was young, athletic and unique. And naysayers may gripe about brand downgrade and quality blah blah blah but this collaboration thrilled his legions of young fans who wouldn’t be able to afford to purchase him otherwise and enabled them to own pieces that now are legit collectors items.
Chanel‘s reality-themed supermarket and street runway backdrops for Autumn 2014 and Spring 2015 are examples of the amazingness that can occur when a creative genius with a perfectionist/streak aka Karl Lagerfeld is allowed to build more or less unfettered by budgetary constraints. It’s demand creation at it’s finest and a big part of the reason why Chanel has been able to nearly double its prices since 2008 and still not have enough bags to meet demand.
Kitty Kash Loving the Free 2: visual mixtape: Kash aka Cache has great taste, that is a known fact. As over used as the word might be, she’s a real-deal influencer. But her main super power isn’t taste, it’s her ability to translate her friendly nature into a networking and platform creating beast. Thus, her Love the Free mixtape, including contributions from Dev Hynes, SZA and Yuna among others was launched exclusively on Vogue. Yes, Vogue. Nuff said!
Mailibu 1992 nail extension charms: Ghetto fabulous is an overused description granted but these are exactly that, hood on 100 squared. We love that the response to them is often disbelief, like how can you function wearing them? Exactly the point. No serving can be done with these nails, one simply serves.
“Bitch I Might Be” nail art: the meme meets its perfect platform and genius is born. Delightment ensues. Nail art is by Christina Rinaldi with decals by Wrap Artist.
Married to the Mob Seduce & Abandon pop-up shop in Los Angeles: Designer Leah McSweeney is a clothing designer but there’s a little bit of performance artist in her, too, reflected in the use of her “bitchism” as call outs on her merchandise. And that is very much why her “Seduce and Abandon” pop-up shop in Los Angeles felt more like a bad bitches art exhibit than a store. On that note, we love all the bitchism-themed pouches she launched this year and as is par for the course, cue the countdown on major labels doing their version sometime in the near future.
Dimepiece Verbage collection: We’re highlighting this word-themed-graphic collection in part because it was dope and Rihanna was spotted in it, but really this brand has been on a roll for a while (remember the Cam’ron pink bikinis earlier this year?), consistently cranking out strong collections themed around women whose default state is independent and not as much as a political cause but a natural state of being.
Melody Ehsani x Reebok: This bold, statement shoe easily won the Snobette Sneaker Award’s best sneaker collaboration for the first-half of 2014. It sold out quickly and was so popular that another color version was released in December. That sold out too. As we said in August, Ehsani’s design is original, bold and generally sassy, basically everything that the world dictates women aren’t supposed to be, which made us love the shoe that much more.
Adidas Originals Stan Smith: Even if for the sneaker culture purist it has some crease issues, the official shoe of Celine designer Phoebe Filo in 2014 became the official shoe of cool kids worldwide. It’s cult status among the fashion-obsessed is exactly why it was an easy top three pick for our Snobette Sneaker Awards for January-June.
Nike’s women’s launches: Sneaker companies for a long time have been talking a big game about offering more/better product to the female customer but this year Nike really delivered. While bordering on a bit too many launches at times (we females need to spread out our fashion spends, Swooshy) , some were game changing gems like the Iridescent Blazer that had women acting like teen boys on a Jordan Saturday, the modern, sporty and new Lunar wedge, and finally, the amazing collabo that included boot versions(!) with Riccardo Tisci. Phew! You done good, Nike, take a bow.
John Buscemi Alta sneaker wedge: Buscemi as a designer occupies a unique position, he has sneaker culture roots and he makes luxury product. Plus he’s an independent. It took him a while to design a shoe for women, but when he finally delivered it was gold.
North West: Part of it is that her and her outfits are just a giant morsel of cuteness but there is also the appeal of seeing how much she has helped bring some peace to her father after the loss of his mother eight years ago. Kids are pretty powerful that way.
Solange in the elevator: #SorrySoNotSorry but those of us who loved her before the incident now love her even more because of it; like what are the chances he DIDN’T have that coming? And putting that event aside, she also won weddings in 2014, numero uno–the arrival on matching bicycles, the caped gown, the dance off with her son, capped by the family and friend photo? Come. On. There wasn’t even a close second.
Ronnie Fieg and Kith: From the his mid-teens and throughout his 20s, Fieg put in his grind time, serving a veritable apprenticeship of how to do (and not do) shoe retail in one of the most ruthless cities in the world. When he struck out on his own in 2011, probably even he didn’t know where his fledgling wings would take him. Two year in and now it seems like the possibilities are limitless. This year in October he expanded on his shop-in shop shoe space in Manhattan and opened an expanded retail space and continued his reign as collaboration king. And the Kith x One Strokes Victor Cruz lookbook? What? #SlaySlaySlay
Hyein Seo: This young Korean-born designer has a lot of eyes on her thanks in large because of her “Fear” collection, presented during VFiles runway show held during New York Fashion Week that went worldwide when Rihanna wore one of her stoles during Paris Fashion week. Her final presentation for the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp was also a hit, with its ironic theme of teen rebellion against schooling and she received the ultimate nod from Fendi, who featured a near exact copy of her “Fear” stole as part of its pre-Autumn 2015 collection.
Rihanna CFDA gown and do-rag: She didn’t give us any new music in 2014 but she served up amazing fashion seemingly non-stop throughout the year. There were hundreds of moments but her see-through crystal gown for the CFDA awards was her most amazing moment. We especially loved her choice to wear her dress with a matching do-rag, a move that reflects her creativity, love of her own culture and of course, a serious streak of mischievousness.
Instagram enables editing: YAS! Basically a national holiday for copy perfectionists.
You: Thank you for the reads and support; without you we are nothing 🙂