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Report: Denim Tears and Levi’s Leo Gamboa Reshape Youth Culture

Denim Tears, Barriers Worldwide and Museum of Peace and Quiet top The Next 20, a biannual report identifying 10 key emerging brands and 10 individuals reshaping youth culture compiled by Highsnobiety and Lyst.

The report—intended to reflect fashion’s present and future vision and where the industry is heading—combines the global shopping platform’s quantitative data analysis with qualitative input from the Highsnobiety community, including an advisory board.

The 10 emerging brands are Barriers Worldwide, Corteiz, Denim Tears, (di)vision, Kusikohc, Luar, Martine Ali, Museum of Peace and Quiet, paria/Farzaneh and Theophilio.

Though life is returning to a semblance of pre-pandemic normal, the brands selected for the report reflect the industry’s “desire to create” and consumers’ “thirst to seek out the next new thing,” the report stated.

This desire for discovery and knowledge is shining a spotlight on brands that are known to reference cultural roots and history. “Denim Tears and Barriers Worldwide, for example, proudly highlight the Black diaspora, both illustrating the plight of the Black people and honoring them,” the report states.

The cotton wreath denim created by Tremaine Emory, Denim Tears founder and 2021 Rivet 50 honoree, is one example of how slavery is symbolized in fashion. The wreaths are the centerpiece of Denim Tears’ collaborations with Levi’s, which have been worn by A$AP Rocky, Ye and Bella Hadid. Pieces from the collection are also on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in the exhibition, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.”

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Emory was also recently named the new creative director of Supreme, giving the streetwear stalwart an edge with Gen Z. On TikTok, #denimtears has 12 million views and counting.

Founded by Steven Barter, Barriers Worldwide is known for making T-shirts and hoodies with depictions of prominent Black figures like Miles Davis, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou and W.E.B Dubois. The graphic tees make a statement on social media as well. Highsnobiety and Lyst report that Barriers has seen its Instagram followers increase 599 percent in the last six months, the highest increase among the 10 brands.

“Barter’s authenticity and connection to his culture and history is important in today’s creative leadership,” said Sandrine Charles, advisory board member and co-founder of Black in Fashion Council.

Sustainability is at the core of Copenhagen-based (di)vision. The sibling-run unisex brand works almost exclusively with deadstock or upcycled materials, including its signature two-tone jeans. Its (di)construct line offers one-of-one items like upcycled Levi’s jeans pieced with scrap or surplus materials.

Several brands also have collaborations with sneaker brands in common. Barriers Worldwide and Paria /Farzaneh have teamed with Converse, while (di)vision released a sneaker with Adidas Originals and Museum of Peace and Quiet partnered with Vault by Vans.

Museum of Peace and Quiet also teamed with Frame in 2021 for the denim lifestyle brand’s first genderless collection. The collaboration featured a co-branded matching black hoodie and jogger set, a white T-shirt, a beige long-sleeved shirt, a flannel zip-up shacket and tapered jeans.

Premium denim brand Frame and contemporary brand Museum of Peace & Quiet teamed on a collection of seven genderless styles for Fall.
Frame x Museum of Peace and Quiet Courtesy

“Now more than ever, brands that may have been typically cast away in their own league are appealing to a wider demand, reaching beyond their immediate niche and uplifting underrepresented communities,” the report stated.

Beyond fame, the report underscores how youth culture is more inspired by achievement, ability, and vision more than fashion sense or social media prowess. “In the post-Covid era—if we could call it that—we are acutely aware of the core issues surrounding us, and simply want more from our creative leaders,” the report stated.

The 10 cultural pioneers named in the report represent a “healthy mix of industries” like fashion, entertainment and sports.

In fashion, independent designers Sami Miro and Kofi McCalla made the list. Los Angeles-based Miro has made an impression on TikTok as an “impact designer” committed to upcycling materials. The hashtag #samimiro has 1.7 million views on the social media platform.

London-based McCalla, who recently launched his brand, Bonne Nuit, is also a DJ who runs a streetwear YouTube channel called “The Unknown Vlogs” with almost 1 million subscribers.

Leo Gamboa, who previously headed collaborations at Rebook and now oversees Levi’s global collaboration, made the list for his creative influence on fashion. Search volume for Gamboa has increased 900 percent, the report stated. Gamboa joined the denim giant in November 2021.

Actors Angus Cloud from “Euphoria” and HoYeon Jung from “Squid Game” represent the blurred line between fashion and film. Cloud’s appearance at the “Euphoria” premiere in an orange Versace suit spiked the search volume for “orange suits” by 132 percent in 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Jung’s star continues to grow nine months after her Netflix series debuted. The report states there are 2.5 billion views of #hoyeonjung on TikTok. “Her ability to transcend genres in and beyond her native Korea, while captivating audiences on the screen and fashion alike is a testament to her power and global impact,” said Julie Gilhart, chief development officer at Tomorrow Showroom.