The Best Under the Radar Brand of 2017

Photo of The Best Under the Radar Brand of 2017

The Highsnobiety Crowns are an annual awards series celebrating the very best in streetwear and street culture over the past 12 months. All shortlists are chosen by the in-house editorial staff at Highsnobiety, with the final result left up to you, the reader. Every voter will be automatically entered to win one of two prizes. This year’s grand prize is a $1,500 gift card with two runner-up gift cards valued at $500 each, courtesy of luxury shopping destination LUISAVIAROMA. Stay tuned for the final results on December 21 and see who won last year here.

As you can imagine, we get a lot of emails from new labels wanting to get featured on Highsnobiety. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement: our inboxes are flooded with lookbooks and press releases from upcoming brands and designers.

So at the beginning of 2015, we decided to give all these newcomers a place of their own. We launched Under the Radar with the aim of shouting out the best new brands to hit us up each month, and the series quickly became one of our most successful recurring features.

Under the Radar has shown us that there’s a mind-blowing amount of talented new brands and designers out there, and even better, the feature is truly global. We’ve highlighted brands from as far away as Brazil, South Africa, Poland, Indonesia, and South Korea, alongside countless collections from all the usual fashion hubs.

So, with that in mind, we’re giving Under the Radar its very own category in this year’s Highsnobiety Crowns awards for the second year in a row. What’s more, we’re teaming up with Capsule to give the winners the opportunity to show their collections to countless buyers and press at Paris and New York’s fashion weeks.

Here’s 10 brands that made it into the shortlist for this year. Vote on them, and feel the warm sense of satisfaction when they become massive next year.

1KCORP is a New York City-based brand from a designer who goes by the name One Thousand Deaths (1k = 1,000, corp as in corpse, go figure). Their latest drop featured military-inspired graphics on hoodies, T-shirts, long-sleeve camo print tees, hats, socks and balaclavas.

One of our favorite aspects of 1KCORP is their stellar range of bottomwear. The cut and details of the pant-leg blend military combat aesthetics with the codes of NYC street style to give a cozy but impactful silhouette. Tying 1KCORP’s look together is the Cobra belt which features a quick-release metal fastening, duo-tone stitching and, in line with one of the year’s biggest trends, an elongated strap.

We’re also digging the execution of 1KCORP’s website which make shopping for garms feel like a character selection screen from an old-school video game.

One of the more memorable lookbooks to come through this year, shirting label Cobra S.C. comes from designers Safa Taghizadeh and Christopher Reynolds (that’s the “S” and the “C”). What Cobra seems to realize, with refreshing acuity, is that good menswear is a process of refining the classics. With premium materials and expert cuts, Cobra S.C. hones in on the qualities that give the humble shirt its timeless appeal, instead of relying on graphics and superfluous details.

One of our favorite pieces from Cobra S.C.’s SS18 collection is the leopard print shirt (one of the most canonically underrated menswear items of all time), styled out with finesse in their lookbook above.

Hailing from Jakarta, Indonesia, Domestik is now making waves in the streetwear scene internationally. Following a series of covetable collaborations, including a standout graphic drop with Australian brand Bow3ry, Domestik has traversed the globe and is now stocked in GOAT high fashion retailer Dover Street Market.

Indonesia isn’t the first place that springs to mind when you think of fire threads, but maybe it should be. Domestik draws inspiration from its hyper-tropical climate and even a few ’80s Indonesian pornos to create visuals that are truly unique – a hard feat that can’t be overlooked in today’s oversaturated graphic market.

Jacob Kane is a British designer from Northern England. A welcomed antidote to a slightly crowded London fashion scene, every collection from Jacob Kane’s Manchester studio has been refreshing, immaculately conceived into a lookbook, and of course, totally wearable too. The label’s debut collection, titled “Unite or Perish,” shows an amalgamation of the designer’s interests” including photography, the rise of political tensions from Brexit, Northern art exhibitions, and old issues of ’90s counter-cultural tome, The Face.

Shot in and around a garage with vintage cars, the collection included logo T-shirts, hoodies, patchwork denim jeans with an oversized ring-pull zipper, and as a standout item, a one-of-a-kind parka jacket that fuses grey and technical khaki, mid-blue denim, metal ring pulls, and a detachable faux-fur hood. Also, a big shoutout to the very long-sleeve, oversized oxford shirt which, when styled with Kane’s more street options, is as steezy as you can get.

From Seoul/New York comes new smokewear brand Sundae School. Their objective is two-fold, firstly to bring visibility to an underrepresented Asian-American counterculture and secondly, to create some really dope clothes to smoke weed in. Their first collection, titled “Genesis” set a precedent for their innovative design instincts that blends some high fashion concepts — such as a denim jacket with transparent plastic coating — with functional stoner-details such as hats with double-stitched spliff holders at the side.

For their second collection, “When Tigers Used to Smoke” (an old Korean saying that translates to “a very long time ago”) Sundae School channeled the nostalgia of pre-war Seoul by referencing the traditional Korean garb of Hanbok. Their contemporary spin on the traditional garment was conceived in pinstripe denim which they modified with covert pockets and straps to carry spliffs, lighters and the rest.

From Turkish designer Zeynep Guntas, the Milan-based eponymous label is the perfect exercise in restraint, liberation and a shit load of the year’s most hyped color: orange.

Based on Zeynep’s experiences in Turkey during the 2016 attacks in Istanbul, Guntas‘s FW17 collection, titled “Subdue Your Mind,” framed a dystopian revolution with cross-stitched denim trousers, black leather jackets, elongated sleeves and silver jumpsuits. The natural, soft materials are cut to futuristic, defiant shapes that established Guntas as one of the most exciting labels to emerge out of Italy all year.

Also, let’s not forget that covering the entirety of your models’ face with a floating lotus is a surefire way to make a lookbook really pop.

Double Rainbouu comes from two former Ksubi creatives Toby Jones and Mikey Nolan. The Australian unisex label broke through the fashion ether when it caught the attention of Justin Bieber, who was seen sporting their shamelessly colorful Hawaiian shirts while on holiday.

We like the idea of a head-to-toe “windy blue palm tree” look on both shirt and shorts in a royal blue/white colorway, but the shirt could realistically be worn as a standalone summer statement flex too. Not just loud Hawaiian prints, Double Rainbouu also produced a range of surprisingly monotone front-and-back screen-printed graphic tees.

Fresh out of Los Angeles, GFT‘s “Sinsanity” collection was one of the strongest U.S. streetwear debuts we’ve seen in some time. The graphic references included Lucy Liu’s character from Kill Bill Vol.1, some trippy canines, and an eye-catching “EXORCISE” logo with abstract prints on the back.

Their latest collection features a recurring chain motif, which adds instant impact to the streetwear staples of shorts and black track pants. Across the board, we think that zips haven’t been utilized in an interesting way for some time, but GFT have made them a valid talking point again with a graphic “skeleton crew” hoodie that sees the zipper run all the way up the hood and down the back of the garment.

Precocious London designer (and former model for A-COLD-WALL*) Eastwood Danso begun his eponymous label last year at just 18 years old. The debut collection, titled “Being and Time.” featured cozy track pants with alternating color sidestripes in blue/red, brown/black, and cream/black, an imperfect circle motif, side bags, and a brown leather jacket with straps for days.

The visual execution of Eastwood Danso’s brand is one of the most memorable we’ve seen this year. The video lookbook for his first collection is thematically on point: a bit ominous and a perfect simulation of how to style the clothes. Danso was born and raised in Germany, so it makes sense that he would tap Berlin brand OBS to design a small capsule of laser-engraved leather side bags, navy trench coats, socks, and a silver ring with a melted surface.

Finally, from Scandinavia via China comes A.A. Spectrum, a high-spec cross-cultural collaboration which reminds us that there is no stronger winter flex than a long, quilted, down-filled outerwear in popping primary colors. A.A. Spectrum mixes practical materials with Sherpa fleece to create a collection that’s as cozy as it is functional. Not just oversized outerwear, we’re also particularly drawn to the collection’s quilted down sweater.

It’s worth noting that all coats produced by A.A. Spectrum are RDS (that’s Responsible Down Standard) which ensures that all the down is ethically-sourced from production down to the harvesting process.

The Highsnobiety Crowns are an annual awards series celebrating the very best in streetwear and street culture over the past 12 months. See all of this year’s nominees here.

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