Complex Ranked the Top 25 Most Influential People In Streetwear Right Now

Complex Network is a media company that has played a major role in popularizing and mainstreaming streetwear culture. Since its founding in 2002, Complex has covered streetwear from its inception, providing news, reviews, and interviews with the biggest names in the industry. The company’s writers and editors have provided in-depth analysis of the culture’s history, trends, and impact on fashion and pop culture.

In addition to its editorial content, Complex has produced successful streetwear-related ventures, including its own clothing line and sneaker boutique. The company has also hosted popular streetwear events, such as the ComplexCon trade show. Complex’s contributions to streetwear culture are significant. The company has helped to make streetwear more accessible to a wider audience, and it has also helped to elevate the culture to a new level of respectability.

Streetwear has grown and evolved since its early beginnings in the 80s and 90s. During this time, streetwear brands drew inspiration from niche subcultures like skateboarding, punk, hip-hop, and graffiti. These brands produced literal “street wear” such as T-shirts, hoodies, jeans, tracksuits, and sneakers that targeted a younger audience.

However, the category has since evolved and the subcultures it reflects are now multibillion-dollar businesses, which makes the definition of streetwear much more nebulous. In our opinion, this is a good thing.

An article by Complex explains the conditions for their rankings, stating that they only included individuals who make and sell apparel and sneakers. This explains why someone like ASAP Rocky or his stylist Matthew Henson, who are both incredibly influential, did not make the list.

Complex created a panel that included well-informed members from the Style and Sneakers teams. Each person on the list was individually scored based on their overall influence in fashion, current relevance/brand desirability, overall body of work, staying power/consistency, and the value they bring to larger brands. After tallying those scores, the ranking was determined through multiple internal meetings and rounds of voting, which was always tight.

Below is the list:

25. Colm Dillane

KidSuper gained fame in fashion when Louis Vuitton announced its first capsule collection designed by founder Colm Dillane. Dillane went from selling T-shirts out of his NYU dorm to becoming an LVMH Finalist and releasing his own collection designed with Louis Vuitton’s atelier.

KidSuper’s whimsical art first resonated with local New York rap artists before garnering him partnerships with brands like Stuart Weitzman, Jagermeister, and Superplastic. Big fashion labels, such as Moschino, have considered him as Jeremy Scott’s successor.

KidSuper’s Fall/Winter 2023 show in Paris drew a massive crowd, confirming that KidSuper is here to stay.


24. Clint419

Complex took some time to discover UK-based streetwear brand Corteiz, which is known for creating pandemonium in the streets with its hyped in-person drops. Since its launch in 2018, Corteiz has become one of the most recognizable young kingpins in streetwear. Clint 419, who engages with his followers on social media, is the founder of the brand and has fostered a cult following by sporadically dropping new products through a password-protected website. Earlier this year, our team covered the release of its Nike Air Max 95 collaboration in New York City, where Clint managed to assemble a crowd of hundreds of New Yorkers in front of a random Nike billboard in the middle of 34th Street. Corteiz’s collaboration with Nike showed the world that its fanbase wasn’t based solely in London. Clint has become such an icon within streetwear that he’s landed his own Dazed cover and has been featured in campaigns by both Supreme and Aime Leon Dore. Though there’s a chance that Corteiz may just be a flash in the pan, its unconventional approach to releasing products has fueled its hype. We believe that Clint has plenty more in store.



23. Angelo Baque

Awake, founded a decade ago by Angelo Baque, has made a name for itself in the streetwear world by building an inclusive and cool community. Their flagship store in New York is a testament to the brand’s bold presence in real life. Awake has gained attention in New York’s streetwear scene, which is increasingly looking for diversity and inclusivity in the brands they support.

Unlike many streetwear labels that cater to men, Awake has shown a commitment to authentically addressing women with their lookbook models and recent collaboration with Milk Makeup. Angelo Baque has also secured partnerships with major brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Mercedes-Benz and used these collaborations to give back to the community.

Last year, when Awake collaborated with UPS, they used the opportunity to spotlight Latinx-owned labels at a pop-up during New York Fashion Week and fund programming and scholarships for The High School of Fashion Industries, a public school in New York City.

Though still a small brand, Awake is growing with larger mainstream collaborations with entities like Jordan Brand on the horizon. It is poised to become a leader in the streetwear scene, with its focus on community, diversity, and inclusivity setting it apart from its peers.



22. Yoon Ahn

Yoon Ahn began her design career by creating album covers for her husband’s rap group, Teriyaki Boyz. She achieved significant influence in the world of streetwear by designing the “POW” jewelry in the mid-2000s, which was popular among celebrities like Kanye West and Pharrell Williams. In 2008, Ahn founded her brand AMBUSH and collaborated with brands such as Nike, NIGO, and Rimowa. She launched a ready-to-wear collection just two years later, earning a nomination for the LVMH prize. Ahn has also collaborated with Nike to design shoes and clothing and has remade classic shoes like the Nike Air Max 180 and Air More Uptempo. Her influence on streetwear trends is undeniable, as evidenced by her partnership with Nike to design the first-ever Nike x NBA collection, which is now displayed at the Nike Campus in Portland.



21. Kanye West

Ye’s influence in streetwear has decreased since he made anti-Semitic remarks in October and lost his deal with Adidas. Adidas was so financially affected by this that they ended up making a deal with Ye to sell its last stock of Yeezy sneakers to the public last summer to save the brand from incurring operating losses of up to $772 million for the fiscal year. The plan worked, Adidas shrunk its expected operating loss for 2023 from $752 million to $484 million and made $437 million in revenue.

Adidas executives said they would make use of the rights they have over Ye’s designs, and they’re still considering turning Yeezy designs into mainline Adidas footwear products without Ye’s name when the time is right.

Ye’s work has influenced the market at large, and when it comes to minimalist wardrobes, Ye’s fingerprints are impossible to remove. Jerry Lorenzo and Kim Kardashian have both credited Ye for creatively making their brands what they are today.

Ye has also had a lasting influence on the relationship between streetwear and luxury. Pharrell and Virgil Abloh would never have been tapped to design menswear for Louis Vuitton had it not been for the doors opened by Ye himself.



20. Chris Gibbs & Beth Birkett Gibbs

Union is the go-to destination for larger brands looking to discover what’s cool. Founded by Chris and Beth Gibbs, Union has become the ultimate co-sign for brands like NEIGHBORHOOD, WTAPS, and Visvim. The Gibbs’ have a keen awareness of what will last beyond a trend cycle, which has helped their store remain relevant for the past two decades.

The original Union store opened in New York in 1989. Beth worked at Stüssy and Supreme and introduced Chris to James Jebbia and the downtown streetwear scene. Chris started at Union as a sales associate in the late ’90s. He moved his way up before eventually leaving for L.A. in 2003 to work for Eddie Cruz, who opened a Union Stüssy shop on La Brea in 1991.

In 2010, Chris bought the store from Cruz, and together with Beth, they’ve made Union a destination and a trusted platform for streetwear and luxury brands alike. They opened two additional outposts in Tokyo and Osaka.

Nike has partnered with Union resulting in much sought-after sneakers, starting with the Air Jordan 1 Retro High in 2018 and most recently the Air Jordan 1 High Woven and a platform Jordan 1.



19. Grace Wales Bonner

Grace Wales Bonner is a designer who has made a significant impact on how luxury brands approach menswear, including streetwear. Her line, launched in 2015, infused menswear with Black cultural references and explored Black male identity. She relies less on graphic T-shirts and more on finely crafted garments that push the boundaries of menswear. She won the 2016 LVMH prize and excels at making tailoring feel relaxed and cool for younger consumers. Bonner’s collaboration with Adidas Originals began in 2019, and she has helped redefine what sportswear can be and the stories it can tell. Her apparel and sneakers are highly sought-after and feel both familiar and entirely new. One example is the silver Adidas Samba with a gum sole, three crochet stripes, and a fold-over tongue, which appears to have influenced Rihanna’s latest Avanti style for Puma.



18. Lev Tanju

Lev Tanju, a young skater in the late 2000s, founded Palace in 2009 with his off-kilter perspective. Despite lacking formal training in design or fashion, he has steadily built momentum for the brand and captured the attention of brands like Gucci, McDonald’s, and even Elton John. Palace collaborates with brands from various industries, creating pieces that add to its global appeal while feeling intrinsically part of its repertoire. Palace has surpassed the world of skating, producing its own Crocs clog and Polaroid camera. Tanju’s cleverness and tongue-in-cheek humor are reflected in every uninhibited product description on the site. Palace is a British brand with shops in London, Los Angeles, New York, and Tokyo, blurring the lines between luxury and skatewear.



17. Salehe Bembury

Salehe Bembury gained attention in 2018 for designing the Versace Chain Reaction. He loves hiking and the outdoors, and his designs helped make Gorpcore popular. He collaborated with New Balance on eight releases, including designing his own silhouette, the 574 YURT. He also worked with Crocs on Pollex clogs that sold out in 35 seconds and ranked 10th on the Lyst Index for Q4 2022. He signed a two-year deal with Crocs to be the creative director of the Pollex Pod collection, with the goal of making it a category with multiple silhouettes. His sneaker collaborations with Anta have sold out in the States. Although his apparel output is limited, he has promising capsules with New Balance and his brand Spunge, and a recent collaboration with Moncler Genius.



16. Joe Freshgoods

In 2018, Joe Freshgoods collaborated with McDonald’s, becoming one of the first streetwear brands to do so. Since then, the fast food chain has partnered with other streetwear lines, including Travis Scott, Cactus Plant Flea Market, and Palace. Robinson’s storytelling skills and ability to create desirable products have allowed him to work with larger brands without compromising his own identity. For example, his work with New Balance, including the Don’t Be Mad x 992 ‘Anatomy of a Heart’ sneaker released during NBA All-Star Weekend in 2020, led to him being appointed as the creative director of their “Conversations Amongst Us” campaign. Before this, Robinson built up his fanbase in Chicago through Fat Tiger Workshop and pop-up shops around the country. He has built his brand on his own terms and has garnered industry attention for his success.



15. James Whitner

Over the past 18 years, James Whitner has climbed the streetwear industry ladder, starting with Flava Factory and later introducing more upscale retail concepts such as Social Status and A Ma Maniere. He now owns and manages over 20 stores across the US, which provide not just products but hospitality, dining, and charity through beSocial community spaces. Whitner has collaborated with Nike and Jordan Brand, releasing multiple silhouettes that celebrate Black people’s beauty, history, and culture. His work has empowered underserved communities and his voice has become prominent in the industry, guiding companies to give back to the Black community.



14. Nigo

When Nigo became Kenzo’s artistic director in 2021, it was another example of LVMH using streetwear to revive a luxury brand. His impact was immediate, with Kenzo back in the conversation. At his debut runway show in 2022, Pharrell, Kanye West, and Tyler, the Creator attended, adding to the hype. Nigo has successfully put Kenzo on track and collaborated with Verdy. He’s releasing a sneaker with Nike in 2024 and has worked with influential figures like Travis Scott and Yoon Ahn. Nigo’s label, Human Made, has kept younger fans excited with collaborations featuring ASAP Rocky and Lil Uzi Vert. He’s a forefather of streetwear, now injecting coolness into luxury fashion.



13. Tyler, the Creator

Tyler, the Creator helped Supreme in the early 2010s when they were struggling. He wore a Supreme box logo hoodie for his first live TV performance, which helped attract new young consumers. Tyler launched his own brand, Golf Wang, in 2011. Golf Wang has its own style, with vibrant colors and youthful prints like flowers and flames.

Golf opened a permanent flagship space on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles in late 2017. The brand’s growth is evident with the opening of its second flagship store in New York City in 2022.

Tyler’s fans have grown with him as his taste has evolved throughout his career. People look to Tyler, the Creator for fashion advice, a sign of his far-reaching influence beyond his music. His commitment to evolution and desire to break new ground has kept him in the conversation in music and fashion since 2011.



12. Rhuigi Villaseñor

Rhuigi Villaseñor has had a rough year. He left Bally in May after only one season as creative director. Later, he was accused of using millions of dollars from Rhude’s revenue for personal expenses in a lawsuit. However, his luxurious lifestyle has helped Rhude grow and become successful. Rhude’s clothing is now stocked at high-end stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. Villaseñor has also collaborated with Puma to release sneakers and apparel collections since 2019. In 2022, he was appointed as the creative strategist for the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes and worked with Zara for the Redesigning Human Uniform line. Despite the negative headlines, Villaseñor’s career is still thriving.



11. Martine Rose

Martine Rose has made a significant impact on men’s fashion by changing the shape and appearance of menswear. Her collections focus more on fashion than streetwear, but still embody streetwear’s ethos. She is interested in subcultures ranging from football to the rave scene and then dissects and reinterprets their uniforms. This has influenced the streetwear category, as evidenced by her collaborations with BeenTrill and her work with Demna Gvasalia on his menswear line at Balenciaga. Her defining look is a semi-slim high-waist pant paired with a cropped jacket and square-toe shoes. Her designs have been worn by influential dressers like Rihanna and Kanye West. She has collaborated with Nike and Clarks, and other brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Stüssy have aligned with her vision. Clarks even named her its first-ever guest creative director.



10. Cactus Plant

Cactus Plant is a woman running a successful streetwear label since 2015, which broke through the male-dominated industry. Although she never reveals her face or talks much, her brand’s trippy DIY aesthetic has influenced many imitators and has drawn attention from everyone. Cactus Plant has executed unique collaborations with Nike, McDonald’s, and Erewhon. Her personal connection to Pharrell and celebrity co-signs from Kid Cudi, Ye, Lil Uzi Vert, and others have also benefited her popularity. Despite her brand’s distinguishable success, Cactus Plant moves modestly, just like the unassuming piece of wildlife in the desert that inspired her name.



9. Travis Scott

Travis Scott’s influence extends beyond music, with his brand Cactus Jack becoming a uniform for devoted fans. Unlike other popular rappers like Drake or J. Cole, Travis generates more excitement for his products. Forbes even dubbed him “Corporate America’s Brand Whisperer” due to his work with many companies. Travis has collaborated with McDonald’s, Reese’s Puffs cereal, Fortnite, and Anheuser-Busch for his own hard seltzer brand, Cacti. He’s made his apparel feel like a legitimate brand, not just merch, by emphasizing unique graphics and accessories like studded belts and utility backpacks. Travis Scott’s personal wardrobe also has a big impact, with him credited with bringing Nike SB Dunks back into the spotlight and collaborating with Nike and Jordan Brand. Despite the Astroworld Festival tragedy, Travis has been able to restore his reputation and maintain his influence in the market.



8. David Sinatra

David Sinatra is the CEO of Stüssy, one of the biggest streetwear brands. By eliminating big-box wholesale partners like Macy’s and maintaining wholesale accounts with online shopping destinations and streetwear boutiques, Stüssy has become arguably the biggest it has ever been. Under Sinatra’s leadership, Stüssy went back to its roots and homed in on what made it a success. It attracts both Gen Z customers and older consumers with frequent collaborations with Nike, Comme des Garçons, and Our Legacy. The brand’s involvement still holds plenty of weight in the marketplace and it is still defining what streetwear is in 2023. With Sinatra’s team, Stüssy won’t become another past-its-prime brand anytime soon.



7. Alexandre Arnault

Bernard Arnault, the CEO of LVMH, owns luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Givenchy. His youngest son, Alexandre Arnault, is keeping LVMH’s brands culturally relevant. Alexandre was behind Louis Vuitton’s recruitment of Pharrell as the new creative director for menswear. He spearheaded collaborations with Off-White and Supreme while he was the CEO of Rimowa. Since 2021, Alexandre has been the executive VP of product and communications at Tiffany & Co. Tiffany & Co.’s profits have doubled since LVMH acquired the brand in 2021. Alexandre is the reason why LVMH took a minority stake in ALD last year. He sits on ALD’s board. Alexandre is an important figure in streetwear’s relationship with luxury.



6. Ronnie Fieg

Over the past decade, Ronnie Fieg has turned Kith into a global streetwear brand with 15 stores worldwide. Each flagship store showcases how streetwear can appeal to different audiences, with Kith Treats ice cream and cereal bars, Sadelle’s restaurants, and collaborations with sports teams and pop culture icons. Fieg’s influence has grown in recent years, becoming the creative director of the New York Knicks and creating his own sub-label, 8th Street. While some criticize Kith for relying on collaborations and commodifying streetwear, Fieg’s impact on the industry is undeniable. Building a brand as massive as Kith has given Fieg significant power and influence.



5. James Jebbia

Supreme has been successful for almost 30 years despite most streetwear brands losing relevance after a decade. The brand was sold for $2.1 billion in 2020 when VF Corp. acquired it, but has had a tough year facing criticism for its financial performance, brand relevance, and workplace culture. Despite this, people still care about the brand and its downtown-NYC roots, but there are challengers to its throne, such as Corteiz and Aimé Leon Dore. VF Corp. has opened Supreme stores in new markets to grow faster. Despite the challenges, Supreme’s founder, James Jebbia, remains meticulous and will likely continue to lead the brand to success. However, the brand will have to recognize the increasing number of people invested in it as it scales up.



4. Pharrell Williams

Pharrell Williams, a major fashion influence for decades, was appointed Creative Director at Louis Vuitton after Virgil Abloh’s tragic death. Despite rumors that luxury fashion had moved on from streetwear, LVMH recognized its importance and Pharrell’s reputation within the subculture. His debut runway presentation in Paris was star-studded, with global icons like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Rihanna in attendance. Pharrell’s influence on fashion continues to be seen, with Lil Uzi Vert donning his pearl track jacket and green Speedy Bag at the 2023 BET Awards. Despite his new role, Pharrell remains committed to spotlighting streetwear and has tapped prominent figures within the industry to appear in the runway show. He also still owns Billionaire Boys Club and has had a long-term collaboration with Adidas since 2014.



3. Jerry Lorenzo

Jerry Lorenzo’s Fear of God is the perfect fusion of streetwear and luxury fashion. The brand held its first runway show at the Hollywood Bowl, which was attended by A-list celebrities. Jerry Lorenzo established Fear of God as a modern luxury brand, and his collaborations with brands like Zegna align with FOG’s design codes. Essentials, a line of earth-toned loungewear, has become ubiquitous and appeals to a wider audience beyond the fashionable streetwear set. Lorenzo made sweats feel aspirational and is now collaborating with Adidas for the upcoming Fear of God Athletics line. Jerry Lorenzo’s consistent approach of sticking to his strengths has made Fear of God a success.



2. Tremaine Emory

For four years, Tremaine Emory’s label, Denim Tears, has shown how impactful screen-printed cotton garments can be. Emory approaches the forefronting of Black culture in a more elevated and considered way than other labels, using captivating storytelling to contextualize and celebrate the achievements, untold stories, and plight of Black people. Denim Tears has garnered partnerships with luxury and mainstream labels, making it aspirational. In less than five years, Denim Tears has made its mark on fashion and pop culture. Emory also leverages his cultural relevance to push for change. In 2020, he urged Nike to make actionable commitments to women and people of color by refusing to release a Converse collaboration unless they did so. Three years later, he left the biggest job in streetwear and called out Supreme for systemic racism and urged them to push for more diversity and representation internally. Emory initiates change that will impact culture for decades to come.



1. Teddy Santis

Teddy Santis has achieved what every streetwear brand desires: to create a community of people who want to be a part of the brand. Aimé Leon Dore’s flagship store in Manhattan’s Nolita neighborhood and its attached cafe have become popular destinations for locals and tourists alike. Santis has created tangible and intangible commodities that people wait in line for, including bespoke Porsches and Technohull power boats. He also has proven his ability to set trends, like his success with the New Balance 550 sneaker. Through ALD’s visuals, Santis has created a blueprint that has influenced other brands in the industry. LVMH took a minority stake in ALD in January 2022, and with the backing of such a powerhouse, Santis and ALD will continue to expand globally.



Unruly is a media company that is dedicated to documenting and exploring the influence of fashion on black culture worldwide. We focus on various areas of black culture, including music, sports, and entertainment, and aim to showcase the latest trends and developments in the world of black fashion. Learn more here.

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