Looking back at 2016 we want to highlight our top brands of the year. This group of creators is very special to us. Not only are they pushing the boundaries of what the “fashion” industry is becoming but they are all small business owners. To us this is proof that in this industry size does not matter. As a small business our selves we take pride in being a part of the growth of these smaller companies. It’s brands like this that will shine in years to come and we will be right there to show our support. See in detail our list of Union’s top brands of 2016 below…#supportsmallbusinesses
917 & Bianca Chandon – Although Alex Olson is a huge name in skateboarding, he started Bianca Chandon as another creative outlet, in addition to Call Me 917, a skate-focused brand. Olson is best known for being a part of the Supreme skate team, having also appeared in “cherry”. The son of another legendary skateboarder — Steve Olson, Alex also counts artist in his list of skills. Having launched Bianca Chandon in 2014, the skater named it after an iconic image of Bianca Jagger riding into her studio on a white horse, and Olivier Chandon, the race car driver. Olson said to Style.com, “I’ve always just wanted to design something, and clothing was something I always paid attention to. But I want to make real stuff, not just shirts…for both men and women.” With everything meticulously thought out, Bianca Chandon is Olson’s brainchild, with him overseeing everything from styling to direction.
Some ware – Some Ware, a new Los Angeles based label birthed by Brendan Fowler and Cali Thornhill DeWitt, has steadily been attracting attention for the past year over its fresh approach to producing clothing, events, and records. Before Brendan and Cali started Some Ware, Brendan built a strong reputation for, among other things, his work running ANP Quarterly with Ed Templeton, which is a photo magazine published by RVCA, as well as his performances as BARR. Cali, who’s been well known for years in the art/music worlds, recently found himself in the mainstream spotlight for his work designing Kanye’s Life of Pablo merchandise. The two of them come together to put out the line that is Some Ware, which is best described by the manor pieces are released. Each item receives a catalog number, whether it’s shirts, events, records, even the Tumblr, and the project is really just the compilation of these pieces. By awarding each piece equal significance in Some Ware’s catalog, the two emphasize that they’re expressing their art equally through the mediums while steering clear of idealizing certain drops or past releases.
Rokit – ROKIT has blended both worlds of basketball and skateboarding together under a coherent entity that leans on contemporary, minimalist Japanese aesthetics. ROKIT is one of the first (on our radar at least) that has successfully put the two together as a lifestyle brand. Being able to embody in full force the culture, be it niche or mainstream, that the brand represents has really launched it to the forefront as a lifestyle brand. Building a community around the brand, offering events, starting a movement.
Stray Rats – Stray Rats is a Miami-based street wear label founded by Julian Consuegra in 2010. The brand’s inspiration for its visuals comes straight from the place it belongs to, the result being a line of clothes which encompasses all types of subcultures. Stray Rats, is the product of a buffet-style sampling of youth culture via digital age appropriation of various waves and trends that have become prerequisites to understanding the 2010s: hardcore punk, hip-hop, high fashion, and graphic design.
JW Anderson – Northern Irish designer Jonathan Anderson established J.W.Anderson in 2008.The success of this debut collection earned both critical acclaim and commercial success for Anderson, whose label is now regarded as one of London’s most innovative and forward thinking brands. Its unique design aesthetic offers a modern interpretation of masculinity and femininity by creating thought-provoking silhouettes through a conscious cross-pollination between menswear and womens wear elements. This idiosyncratic perspective has rightfully earned the label a cult following.
Noah – Brandon Babenzien worked at Supreme as its design director, but left the brand to re-launch his own label — NOAH. It was first launched in 2000, conceptualized as an ode to Babenzien’s childhood and upbringing as a New Yorker and skateboarder. It eventually shuttered in 2007, the same time Babenzien re-joined Supreme as its creative director. In 2015 Babenzien parted ways with Supreme again, and came back with a fresh take on NOAH which still retains its skateboarder-focus but with a more mature aesthetic.
Awake – Angelo Baque was Supreme’s brand director, having previously held the marketing manager post as well. He started his own label called Awake, which is produced in association with Gitman Bros. Aesthetically, the brand takes its cues from street wear and traditional sportswear in an array of colors. However, getting your hands on a piece from Awake might prove to be tougher than getting anything from Supreme, as the brand is sporadically stocked.