Most Influential Designers In Last 10 Years

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Rei Kawakubo

Rei Kawakubo, head of the COMME des GARÇONS empire, is directly and indirectly responsible for uncountable trends over the past decade. This was quantified when the many COMME des GARÇONS lines — including the menswear-centric HOMME PLUSHOMMEJunya Watanabe MAN — were the subject of a Metropolitan Museum retrospective in 2017, indicative of the label’s decades spent upending industry standards. Similarly, COMME des GARÇONS’ Nike collaborations were some of the decade’s finest: key drops include 2013’s forward-looking BLACK COMME des GARÇONS Blazer Low and 2017’s VaporMax and Nike Dunk High. Meanwhile, the company’s Dover Street Market outposts, founded in 2004, continued to set the standard for department stores well into the next decade, with exclusive drops and experiences hosted alongside names that include Travis Scott’s Astroworldsacai, Chrome HeartsGucciAWAKE NY and Vetements.

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Rick Owens

Few designers could hope to match Rick Owens’ global influence, which began to draw attention in the ‘00s and exploded in the ‘10s. Famously namechecked in A$AP Rocky’s 2013 hit “Fashion Killa,” Owens honed his unique vision of drapey, sportswear-indebted avant-garde garments over the 21st century’s first decade, but he truly owned his unique vision in the second decade, expanding the line’s color palette and diffusion label (DRKSHDW) and introducing visionary footwear collaborations with adidas, Hood Rubber Company, Vejas and Birkenstock. Owens also launched a variety of dramatic runway presentations that drew pearl-clutching headlines from even those outside the world of fashion. Key moments include a booming Zebra Katz soundtrack for Fall/Winter 2013, exposed male genitalia for Fall/Winter 2015 and human backpacks taking the runway for Spring/Summer 2016

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Kanye West

Little could be said about Kanye West that hasn’t already been explored (even by West himself). However, it’s worth mentioning the undeniable influence the rapper and creative exerted over the fashion industry this decade, Since his early dabbling in fashion (a Fendi internship in 2009, BAPE collaborations), West has developed his personal taste through several stages, from Riccardo Tisci’s art direction in 2011, to 2013’s Maison Martin Margiela-designed masks to the APC collaboration line in 2014 — the first official West-branded garments. West’s Nike collaborations were also an early stab at quantifying his taste, but 2015 saw the G.O.O.D. Music founder effectively finding himself through his adidas partnership, when YEEZY Season 1 debuted. The muted earth tones that informed the sweatpants, slouchy hoodies and shearling jackets essentially set the tone for the rest of West’s decade, as he continued to produce enormously boxy T-shirts, baggy sweaters and those ever-evolving YEEZY’s throughout the ‘10s, aiming to fulfill his promise of YEEZY sneakers for everyone.

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Virgil Abloh

Though Kim Jones at Louis Vuitton was responsible for what may be the defining collision of the luxury and streetwear industries, Virgil Abloh is the man who gave Louis Vuitton the streetwear edge it needed to draw in an ever-younger clientele. Abloh’s transformation of the luxury house capped an indescribably successful decade, which saw the creative art launch his first clothing label, Pyrex Vision, in 2012, a year after he art-directed Kanye West and JAY-Z’s Watch the Throne. The explosive financial success of Pyrex Vision helped Abloh kickstart Off-White™ in 2013, which became an LVMH prize finalist in 2015. Two years later, Abloh had collaborated with everyone from Takashi Murakami to Nike, paving the way for him to succeed his mentor, Jones, at Louis Vuitton the following year. Even still, this brief bio is unable to properly quantify the impact that Abloh and his peers imparted upon the global fashion industry, a movement led by a would-be civil engineer who elevated streetwear to a fine art and made luxury palatable to the youth.

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Miuccia Prada

Prada has consistently stayed ahead of the curve over the years, but the ‘10s provided a proper demonstration of Miuccia Prada’s impressive premonition. For instance, the designer predated hybrid footwear trends with 2011’s sandwiched derbies and delivered minimalist athletic-inspired clothing for 2013 (far before anyone ever uttered the phrase “athleisure”) as her menswear evolved from subversive suiting to informal workwear, floral shirting and patterned sweaters years before business casual became de rigueur. The Cloudbust, which first appeared in 2017, was indicative of Prada’s clairvoyance, a clunky technical runner that predated most trendy technical designs to market. Prada even beat out the late ‘10s’ flirtation with logomania by way of badge-branded accessories, eventually paving the way for a reissue of the ‘90s most progressive technical luxury lines: the nylon-centric Linea Rossa collection.

Riccardo Tisci

Though Riccardo Tisci finished the decade on a high note, taking a bow for his revitalization efforts at Burberry, perhaps the finest moments in the decade came during his tenure at Givenchy. After 12 years with the French house, Tisci left Givenchy in 2017, but not before providing some of the first key instances of streetwear’s influence on the luxury market. Tisci’s famed animal graphics, star-branded hoodies and basketball-inspired shorts were indicative of the designer’s love of sportswear, which won over various fans — including longtime pal Kanye West, who tapped Tisci to design outfits and artwork for Watch the Throne, West and JAY-Z’s collaborative 2011 album. Tisci’s street-inspired styling was the antecedent for today’s interconnected world, blending high fashion and street savvy in ways that no other luxury house had previously dared attempt.

Alessandro Michele

In January 2015, Gucci took a chance on the then-unknown Alessandro Michele, who had designed the house’s bags since his appointment under Tom Ford in 2002, elevating Michele to Gucci’s creative director in charge of every fashion collection and the entire brand’s image. The selection was fortuitous — Michele has smashed sales expectations year-on-year, with the brand’s fortunes rising 50% in 2017, then another 45% a year later, thanks to overwhelming consumer demand driven by the Italian designer’s whimsical, romantic worldview. Gucci’s clothing — especially branded T-shirts and sweaters — reigns supreme, with plenty of branded goods that were crucial in developing the “logomania” trend. Regardless of shifting tastes, there’s plenty of demand for the brand’s accessories, like belts and sneakers, which serve as an accessible entryway to Michele’s sumptuous world.

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