In this feature we take a look at some of the best techwear brands on the planet from the latest designers on the scene to classic outdoors brands that introduced the very first GORE-TEX jackets.
Over recent years Technical Wear or “Techwear” as it is more commonly known, has become big business be it on the runway or on the roads. The attraction & hype is largely due to the design concept to provide utility, comfort, function and an almost futuristic aesthetic. And as the name suggests, Techwear incorporates state of the art garment technology & innovation allowing for breathability, movement & water-resistance to name a few. The demand has presented opportunities for successful new brands to emerge, yet also tempt existing streetwear giants to produce Techwear collections. Utilising advanced construction techniques & a range of functional fabrics, Techwear isn’t just about the function of the garment but also the aesthetics, boasting some of the most advanced looking gear you have ever laid on eyes. Techwear pioneers include brands like Stone Island and Massimo Osti, aka “The Godfather of Sportswear”, who utilised military influences, technical fabrics & garment dyeing with a never seen before aesthetic. From its Osti origins in the early 1980s to some of the very latest garment tech, we take a look at some of the very best Techwear brands that should be on your radar.
First up on our list of techwear brands that should be on your radar we have 1017 ALYX 9SM. Mathew Williams founded the brand in 2015, after having worked as creative director for Lady Gaga and Kanye West. An impressive resume to say the least. Originally from California, Williams produced his brand in Ferrera, Italy to acquire the finest of Italian materials to provide premium products. 1017 ALYX 9SM is a unique and easily identifiable brand working together with Italian streetwear pioneers like Slam Jam on exclusive products & drops. The futuristic brand has built a trademark for itself due to the beautiful and unconventional craftsmanship of its buckles and clasps. A feature since replicated within the fashion industry and a compliment in itself to 1017 ALYX 9SM.
The regular use of lightweight, durable and often waterproof fabrics not only ensures sustainability of the product, but also offers a distinguished aesthetic, highly sought-after within the Techwear scene. Materials are just the start of the brands experimental vision, designers too have brought to life new silhouettes and alternative opening mechanisms to further differentiate the brand.
The story of A-COLD WALL (or ACW for short) is inspiring, especially for young budding streetwear designers seeking to follow the footsteps of Samuel Ross. Ross founded A-COLD WALL in the fall of 2015. Only 25-years-old at the time, the creative director stayed true to his unique concepts and his vision was soon looked upon by industry scouts, including none other than LV creative director and Off-White CEO Virgil Abloh. The brand has since won numerous awards for its innovation in Techwear and it’s not hard to see why.
Collaborations offer an opportunity for brands to showcase their creativity. Imagine, two of your favourite bands working together to provide the best of both. Easy to see then why collaborations usually generate a lot of hype and excitement, especially within sneaker culture and streetwear fashion. ACW is no stranger to collabs, and like many other brands their partnership with Nike generated a lot of attention. Especially with the make-up of Nike’s legendary Air Force 1 silhouette.
The North Face started all the way back in 1966 as an outdoor climbing retail store in sunny San Francisco. Humble beginnings for a brand which has since grown to become a household name. The beauty of The North Face is that they have always been a brand dedicated to the outdoors using innovative technology such as GORE-TEX & HY-VENT to name a few. The North Face are OG as far as Techwear is concerned. A Techwear heavyweight which offers premium products for the great-outdoors and yet looks great on the streets.
The North Face boast a number of products which have become “grails” within the history of the scene. Products such as the 700 series puffer jacket, offered in a wide range of colours. In addition, their ongoing collaboration with New York’s Supreme, have catapulted the brand into the forefront of street fashion. Beyond the realm of reselling and limited exclusivity, the collaboration offers the perfect blend of streetwear aesthetics, the latest outdoors garment tech & colour blocking outerwear that just looks great no matter whether you’re on the streets or the slopes.
Nike announced the arrival of ACG (All Conditions Gear) in the dawn of 1989 and as the name suggests, Nike’s intentions were easily identifiable. The All Condition Gear differentiates from mainline Nike with the addition of technical materials to cope with the harsh outdoors. The new materials were also partnered with original colour schemes to further distinguish the line.
The ACG line has grown to become a fan favourite within the Techwear scene and it is to no surprise. Tinker Hatfield, a celebrated sneaker designer behind many notorious Nike Air Jordan silhouettes, has also worked alongside the ACG creatives to offer unique and exciting products.
Similar to The North Face, Nike’s ACG line has been tested and proven in the great outdoors which attracts many consumers outside of the streetwear industry. Another point worth mentioning is that Techwear usually consists of black or very dark colours to correspond with the ‘special-ops’ style aesthetic. Not only has Nike ACG offered products which perfect this look, but they have experimented with the complete opposite, with “in your face” colour blocking styles in classic Gorpcore brand style.
From ‘Super Sunday’ football fans attending Dagenham & Redbridge away to global rap superstars like Drake, Stone Island has established itself well within the luxury sportswear world. The Italian brand is well distinguishable due to its finest materials and unique arm tag brandishing the iconic compass logo. Similar to Nike, Stone Island also boasts an exclusive top tier Techwear collection titled Shadow Project, which is a collaboration between Acronym’s Errolson Hugh & Stone Island’s Carlo Rivetti.
Stone Island Shadow Project aims to embody urban masculinity by uniting the finest of technical performance fabrics and gritty offbeat styling. The Shadow Project collections draw inspiration from classic sportswear & military apparel apparel, including waterproof parka jackets and unique pieces made with numerous cargo pockets and straps. Styling points all standard yet perfected within the Techwear scene. The beauty behind Stone Island Shadow Project is that they offer a very unique take on Techwear. Products are more on the premium end where fabrics & styling comes first. Since its origins back in 2008, Shadow Project has become a staple amongst the original Osti fans for its use of technical fabrics and unique dyeing concepts.
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