As much as we love copping jawnz, there's more to streetwear and sneakers than acquiring more stuff. There's a rich history in these worlds, and familiarizing yourself with it is a key part in rising above the practice of mindless consumption. After all, the greatest thing you can cop in this world is knowledge. Once you're equipped with it, you may even become a smarter consumer, purchasing only what you need or at least have a deep appreciation for.
To encourage stimulation of your product riddled brain, we're taking a break from our weekly roundup of apparel and sneakers to put some damn books in front of you. Like anything in life, educating yourself in this goofy field of ours is an endless pursuit. Nothing we could put together could encapsulate the breadth of streetwear and sneaker culture, but what we can do is give you is a solid place to start.
By absorbing game from these 10 books, you'll be well on your way to sounding like you know what you're talking about. Your Instagram comments will become smarter, and you'll be able to nerd out with others in the clubhouses streetwear and sneaker shops are supposed to be.
This Is Not a T-Shirt, Bobby Hundreds ($18)
You don't have to be a fan of The Hundreds to appreciate what co-founder Bobby Hundreds wrote as a memoir, history of the brand, and journey of streetwear as a whole. If you're familiar with The Hundreds' blog, you know how perceptive of a writer Bobby is. Here, his wisdom is approachable to even the most novice of streetwear devotees.
Supreme, Rizzoli ($50)
Supreme's first monograph is light on text but heavy on the visuals from the early days of the New York City streetwear brand. The gawd Glenn O'Brien (RIP) provides a stellar introduction that makes the case for Supreme's appeal outside of hypebeast teens.
Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style, W. David Marx ($30)
If you pay much attention to Japanese fashion or Americana, you'll notice that the best of the latter now comes from the former. From his base in Tokyo, W. David Marx reveals why this happened, going back to Japan's obsession with American clothes after WWII.
The Dunk Book, Rizzoli ($63)
The resurgence of the Nike SB Dunk was one of the defining sneaker trends of 2020, but its heyday still lives in the 2000s as the breeding ground of modern sneaker culture. The Dunk Book provides a visual history of one of the most important shoes ever made, as well as stories from key early figures like Futura and Paul Rodriguez.
Shoe Dog, Phil Knight ($20)
Nike is the giant it is today not only because of its innovation in athletics, but because of its genius in storytelling. That talent goes all the way to the top to founder Phil Knight, whose memoir charts the underdog days when Nike was just Blue Ribbon Sports and Adidas was Goliath.
Dead Style: A Long Strange Trip Into the Magical World of Tie-Dye, Mordechai Rubinstein ($25)
Mordechai Rubinstein — the style photographer, writer, and Dead Head before it was trendy — is the perfect person to capture how the Grateful Dead and its aesthetic took hold of a new generation. While streetwear will eventually move on, Rubinstein's first book shows how Dead Style has had a captive and colorful audience for decades.
Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem, Daniel R. Day ($18)
Dapper Dan has finally got his roses nearly 30 years after the luxury houses he'd inspire sent the Feds his way. As part of his much deserved and overdue resurgence, the legendary designer born Daniel R. Day penned his first memoir, an engaging story that's equal parts creativity and hustle.
This Is Not Fashion: Streetwear Past, Present and Future, King Adz and Wilma Stone ($28)
Also named as a nod to the same punk rock tee that inspired Bobby Hundreds' title, This Is Not Fashion pulls together the many disparate cultures that inspired streetwear and eventually luxury. Hip-hop, skateboarding, hooliganism, and more are all accounted for — as are diverse voices from Dior's Kim Jones to Zoo York's Eli Morgan Gesner.
Hiroshi Fujiwara: Fragment, Rizzoli ($60)
The "Godfather of Streetwear" gets a book devoted to his legend, germinated as a teenager in Tokyo's Harajuku neighborhood and enduring today worldwide. Few others have had such a hand in determining what's cool as Hiroshi Fujiiwara has for thirty years and running.
Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture, Elizabeth Semmelhack ($48)
Out of the Box pulls sneakers from collections around the world and provides all the context one could need about them. Author Elizabeth Semmelhack is renowned sneaker historian, and she brings in pivotal figures including Tinker Hatfield, Bobbito Garcia, and Run DMC's Darryl McDaniels.