At a moment when most aren’t even sure what streetwear is anymore, “Cult Streetwear” offers a survey of the style’s most prominent pioneers. One one hand it’s an essential reference guide to the ubiquitous category, but on the other, author Josh Sims’ discerning analysis explains how people and brands helped streetwear reach its mass status.
From clothing born out of “sheer necessity” to the undying appeal of the graphic tee, the book relays the history, breaking it down into three main categories—streetwear, sportswear and workwear. Sims also includes informative anecdotes, like how Vans‘ classic checkerboard shoe came about by chance after an employee saw a high school kid coloring in his plain canvas sneaker.
With a focus on 32 influential brands (Sims admits it isn’t a definitive list), the scope covers streetwear labels that maintain creative integrity and a strong sense of identity.
While many of the brands grew out of sports—Stussy, Burton, Fred Perry and more—some started as an extension of an (often graffiti) artist’s work, such as Obey and Fuct. Of course, the Japanese influence—mostly two brilliant entrepreneurs in the early ’90s, Hiroshi Fujiwara of Goodenough and Hideheko Yamane of Evisu, gets its due here too. Each saw streetwear as more than catchy graphics, laying the foundation for the luxury limited edition label A Bathing Ape, also highlighted in the book.