Top Streetwear Brands in Asia You Should Cop in 2020

Jan 5, 2020 | Biz, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, MJ Toledo, Philippines, Style

White Mountaineering SS19 ©Chloé Dislaire

Gone are the days when high fashion only meant Haute couture from Europe. Asia's Streetwear has infiltrated the luxury fashion scene and is here to stay, check out these cult-status brands.

Hypebeast. Streetwear. Fashion revolution. Skater counterculture. Style shift – Call it what you want, but it’s here to stay. Less than a decade ago, sneakers and hoodies were the go-to fashion statement of kids who are cool enough to not care about what other people think. Now, the mindset which prioritizes convenience over anything is on the loose. Thankfully, comfort and style now go hand in hand.

Uniqlo isn’t the only Asian fashion giant taking over the scene. There is a handful of Asian brands that cater to the street scene that is worth checking out. Whether you are looking for hoodies, chunky shoes, or statement tees, we’ve got you covered.

A Bathing Ape

Considered as a fashion heavyweight, A Bathing Ape is a Japanese brand that offers pieces that centers on streetwear. This brand has made it into the mainstream so you’ll most likely see someone wearing it on the street wherever you go. Whether it’s a child starting out in skateboarding, or a style-conscious CEO, A Bathing Ape can perfectly suit their closet.

This brand’s history can be traced back to the iconic ura-Harakuju era, or underground Harajuku, in the 90s. During this time, successful streetwear designers and brands such as Shin Takazama from Neighborhood, Sk8thing, Hiroshi Fujiwara, and Tetsu Nishiyama from WTaps were part of the same circle. In fact, Nigo, the visionary behind the brand, used to work for Sk8thing before opening BAPE.

Because of his fascination and interest with 20th-century pop culture, you can see tons of references in their designs. BAPE is also known for its American collaborations with Stüssy Tribe.

Li Ning

Former Olympic gymnast Li Ning proves that there’s no better person to start a sportswear brand than an athlete. Li Ning has become a fashion powerhouse locally and internationally since it was born after Li competed for the Olympics in 1988. Li Ning is such an important sports icon in the country that he competed in the Olympic torch relay in the 2008 Olympics held in China. Of course, he wore his own tracksuit.

His brand fared dramatically well in China since it lacked competition from American and European brands, which took longer to enter the Chinese market. The brand also collaborated with NBA superstar Dwayne Wade, and continues to support Chinese athletes. 

One thing that sets the brand apart is its deeply rooted Chinese heritage which allowed them to break through the global barrier. With their fearless designs, Li Ning is set to trail blaze the fashion world for the next years.

White Mountaineering

Another favorite streetwear Japanese brand, White Mountaineering offers outdoor-inspired clothes. Despite only starting in 2006, the company has already made a name for itself in the international scene.

Inspired by their commitment to giving their customers nothing but the best, the brand uses technical fabrics in their designs which include polar fleece, corduroy, and GORE-TEX. Whether or not you plan on using it outdoors, it will surely serve its purpose. The brand also continues to boast performance-focused collections. 

Recently, the brand collaborated with Adidas to release a two-color-blocked Nite Joggers. The design first debuted in the White Mountaineering Paris Fashion Week FW19 show. The standout product is a must-have thanks to its rugged aesthetic that is set to complete your look. 

White Mountaineering is the brand of choice of fashion-forward people who want to maintain their outdoor-inspired style. White Mountaineering’s philosophy also inspires its customers to demand fashion sustainability and connect with nature’s beauty.

Clot

Dedicated to bridging the East and the West, Clot is a Hong Kong-based brand that offers so much more than their amazing chunky shoes. The brand was founded by Kevin Poon and Edison Chen, and prides itself on thoughtfully designed apparel. 

Clot has also made news in international fashion as it collaborated with fashion giants such as Stüssy, Converse, Adidas, Coach, and Nike. The brand even had links with Coca-Cola and Disney. Did we mention they also helped bring iconic music star Kanye West to Hong Kong for his Touch the Sky tour? 

The brand is famous for its modern sportswear and street styles blended with traditional Chinese fabrics. Without question, you can expect to see more of the brand in the next years as it continues to evolve into a global brand.

Inside Juice’s New K11 Musea Store Hong Kong ©CLOT

Team Manila

A Philippines brand that started in 2001, Team Manila has cemented its status in the Philippine fashion scene thanks to its bold designs that feature nationalistic themes. Bursting with Pinoy Pride, Team Manila even uses images of the country’s national hero, Jose Rizal, with sunglasses on.

The brand draws inspiration from the urban city scene and culture, and the day to day life in Manila. In fact, you can also see images of the Jeepney and popular Tagalog phrases immortalized in their shirts. Team Manila also stands out among its competitors because it’s not afraid to release political designs. Their recent West Philippine Sea shirt collection shows undying support for the country’s claim on the area.

The founders of Team Manila also founded Daily Grind shortly after the mother brand became successful. Daily Grind offers fanny packs, caps, guitar picks, patches, and other accessories inspired by streetwear.

Wacko Maria

Its name is as attention-grabbing as its designs. The brand was founded by former J-league soccer players Atsuhiko Mori and Keiji Ishizuka in 2005.

“Some time after I finished with soccer, I was drinking with my partner at the time. We weren’t thinking of doing anything big in particular, but we at least wanted to do something cultural, and that’s what we started with,” shared Mori with Hypebeast.

This Japanese brand features designs that are heavily influenced by art, films, photography, music, and American culture. The owners also credited Italian architecture, and film directors such as Jean Luc Godard, and Bernardo Bertolucci, among others, as their inspiration.

The clothing line is instantly recognizable thanks to its boldly embroidered designs with the text “Paradise Tokyo” or “Guilty Parties” – an ode to the Nakameguro and their offshoot brand. Wacko Maria reached cult status after its collaborations such as WTAPS, N. Hoolywood, and other brands.

Kirin

This brand may be familiar to you if you love music since it’s the brainchild of rising Korean DJ Peggy Gou. The high-caliber streetwear brand takes inspiration from the style of the DJ herself, which explains the bold color blocking, Korean mythological motifs, and giraffe images (she loves them!). In fact, Kirin is the Korean translation of giraffe, which Peggy Gou refers to as her spirit animal.

Even before she delved into the music scene, Gou has actually had a fashion background. She simply wanted the brand to reflect her music style which is full of energy. Kirin is a brand fit for everyone. With its playful designs and unexpected ultra-bright colors, everyone who is tired of the usual monochromatic streetwear looks will absolutely love it.

One of the bestselling designs of the brand is a twisted gun print by Jae Huh, which sends a message of non-violence. Other popular designs form the labels are the baseball jersey-kimono fusions and the sliced track jackets.

Ready to Shop?

Now that you know some of the most in-demand Asian streetwear brands, you’re finally ready to swipe your credit card. When sporting this theme, make sure to take it up a notch by staying true to your own unique style. While the Asian brands mentioned above may not be as recognizable as Supreme, Stüsssy, and other Western brands, there is no denying that Asia will soon be an epicenter of the streetwear culture.