Welcome to the Glossy 50, our first annual list featuring men and women contributing to the transformation of fashion, luxury, beauty and technology.
The industries are being turned on their heads. The heat is on to ship faster, lower prices and be first to market with trends. Those driving these modern strategies are the people we’re recognizing. They’re insiders from 10 categories we cover daily — including platforms, wearables, startups and streetwear — who captured our attention in the past year.
In this feature, we dive into their contributions to their industries’ new directions. Below are the honorees in the Rise of Streetwear category. See honorees in other categories here.
Streetwear is a quintessentially American phenomenon, intertwined in hip-hop and street culture, but Kevin Ma has established the leading media brand chronicling the rise of streetwear into a mainstream phenomenon. Hypebeast started as a blog in 2005 with a tongue-in-cheek name that pokes fun at the “hypebeasts” who obsessively follow the most buzzed-about trends in streetwear rather than develop original style. The site is now 12 years old and has expanded to include content for women and kids, and it went public last year. Along the way, Ma created an online marketplace for streetwear releases, which are limited in quantity and highly sought after at launch. HBX, Hypebeast’s commerce arm that launched in 2012, has grown to $6 million in sales per year. “It’s not at all about pushing stuff that doesn’t work,” says Ma. “Thanks to social media, people know what’s cool and what’s not cool. So if you’re not in on that, you’re going to fail.”
“‘Cool’ and ‘awesome’ are words we often cite around here,” says Regina Martin, Champion’s global creative director of trend and innovation. Coming from anyone else, that might seem trite, but it’s hard to argue with reality — Champion is one of today’s hottest (and thus, coolest) brands. That’s particularly impressive for a brand founded in 1919 whose popularity surged in the ‘80s.
Martin says innovation is at the core of that success: “We’ve been setting new standards for sports, fitness and lifestyle apparel from the start.” Indeed, the company has patented its reverse weave sweatshirts — a process that allows for added comfort without loss of fit — and the Jogbra, one of the first sports bras to market.
Today, Champion has returned to the spotlight via buzzy collaborations, including those with Vetements and Supreme, many of which Martin spearheads. “My role is about discovery and impact, tapping into a global community of creatives, engineers, futurists, trend hunters, consumer insights experts and scientists,” she says, noting that she also works closely with Champion’s myriad teams, from design to marketing.
That idea of breaking down walls was behind the launch of Champion owner Hanesbrands’ innovation department, which it has dubbed SparkLab. “I have worked in other places where innovation was behind a locked door, never tapping into the collective talent,” she says. “That is not the culture we have created here.”
Part of Martin’s role entails maintaining the Champion archive. After New York’s Museum of Modern Art reached out to Champion last year with interest in seeing authentic, vintage hoodies from the brand, MoMA’s curatorial team selected an ‘80s-era hoodie to feature in an exhibit titled “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” opening this October. “Working with the MoMA took our collaborative spirit to another level,” says Martin, adding that they’ve created exclusive Champion x MoMA hoodies to celebrate the exhibit’s launch.
Martin attributes her creative spirit not to her education — she studied fine arts at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and graduated from Parsons School of Design — but to being a so-called “army brat.” Moving all over the world with adventurous parents instilled in her a voracious curiosity. “I was not afraid to explore and reach out to someone new to learn something new,” she says. “I took that approach right into my work life.”
Champion’s chief global design officer, Ned Munroe, seemed to pick up on that after following freelance consulting work Martin had done under the name RPM Studios. He offered her a position in 2012. “I am a very lucky girl,” she says of the opportunity, noting that she still has the first Champion sweater she “borrowed” from a college roommate and never returned.
Today, it’s up to Martin and her team to maintain that decades-old history while also experimenting to stay relevant. It’s an exercise in restraint. “We know who we are — an authentic American athletic wear brand — and we take very seriously what products get to earn the Champion ‘C,’” says Martin. “We’ll let other people be gimmicky.”
Know Wave launched in 2012 as an internet radio station focused on music, fashion and art creatives. Founder Aaron Bondaroff saw the station as a natural extension of Moran Bondaroff, the contemporary art gallery he and partners Alberto and Mills Moran opened in Los Angeles in 2008. Before building a West Coast network, however, Bondaroff was known as “Downtown Don,” a fixture in New York City’s Lower East Side nightlife scene. As Supreme’s first employee, he started cult label Anything in 2001. Two years ago, Bondaroff expanded Know Wave into merch. Today, collectors wait for Know Wave T-shirt drops, and top streetwear vendors, including Dover Street Market and Supreme, sell Bondaroff’s tees, towels and other styles. “If you think of Know Wave as a platform, merch is just another outlet to express what we’re doing,” he says.
When former pro skateboarder Lev Tanju launched Palace in 2009, his primary mission was to create a line of quality skateboards. Shortly afterward, he decided to enlarge Palace’s triangle-shaped logo and put it on the backs of T-shirts and hoodies. Before long, the likes of Rihanna and North West were donning Palace gear. Over the years, he’s experimented with different versions of the logo, making tongue-in-cheek references to the fashion industry by playing off of existing luxury labels. The website features whimsical product descriptions, most of which Tanju writes. (For example, one shirt’s description simply reads, “I eat so much that I’m worried if I do work out, I will look all weird, like Drake.”) Now, his London and New York stores have lines around the block with shoppers clamoring for limited-edition products.