Before the recession of 2008 many things were different. Banks were lending people obscene amounts of money, there were Hummers everywhere, it seemed like everyone was working, Kanye West was still part of the conscious/alternative scene, but mostly everyone was spending money, lots more than they do now. Likewise the state of streetwear was vastly different at that time. Many “streetwear” brands had a different approach to design. Quality and creativity were the most important things to everyone, there were so many of these brands but none completely dominated the scene. Fast forward five years later to 2013 and now “streetwear” is more or less dominate by a select few brands, who many look to as being the best or the leaders of the industry. While in effect narrowing the gate to success and leaving many other new eager and ambitious brands to struggle and follow whats trending in order to stay afloat. While it wasn’t easier for brands to sell their products before 2008, no single brand had so much power and sway like the select few that rule today.
Some have said, and argue, that 2008 was the end of the golden age of streetwear, of course thats a matter of interpretation. Ludwig Van and XLarge released a collab that year, which in essence is a prime example of what streetwear used to be. Both of the brands founder’s knew one other from years earlier, and decided to mesh both brands together to create the X-Ludwig collection.
X-Large was Founded in LA by Eli Bonerz back in the 90s. The brand was primarily influenced by hip hop and graffiti. Their clothing often parodied or referenced other big name brands as well as pop culture in general. As the 2000s came around streetwear began to evolve from a loose collective of underground artists, skaters, and designers to an entity that would become an industry. X-Large continued to grow in prominence and its clothing, were for a time highly sought after. Eventually the brand, much like Nigo’s Bape brand, spread across the sea where he opened a Japanese division. By 2008 X-Large was seen as one of the most creative and cleaver streetwear brands around. Around that time Mike Dytri had barely formed his own brand Ludwig. He and Bonerz had met when Mike was still working for Subfreakie. Needless to say Mike was one of the few people whose designs always had a lot to say in so few words. Very much opposites. X-Large was loud and colorful, while by contrast Ludwig was all about the little details and stressed design.
X-Ludwig was designed by incorporating both brand’s philosophies together. The Alex Ludwig logo and Gorilla X-Large logo were utilized on tees. A small embroidered Alex logo can be found on the left sleeve while, a crest displaying both brand’s names and their respective fonts are on the right sleeve, the back of the shirt has a graphic with the Gorilla wearing Alex’s hat, finally in the front Alex is juxtaposed above the X-Large box and X-Ludwig is written inside the box giving the tees a strong dynamic. Many people wouldn’t understand why this collab was successful, mostly due to the post-recession climate of streetwear.
Today collabs are so common and their reasons for being are often motivated for financial and survival reasons. For example Stussy releases many collabs in a single year, often with both companies logos sprawled aimless and sloppily across a shirt. There really isn’t a cool concept other than “look at these two big brands on this shirt.” While smaller brands do collabs to introduce themselves to hopefully a new prospective audience. If you ever happen to stumble across one of these tees, you’re literally looking at what streetwear used to be.
The collab combined both brand’s logos.
X-Large gorilla logo.
The classic Alex logo.
A small embroidered Alex is glued onto the left sleeve.
Every detail counts, that was the original idea behind brands collabing.
The crest on the left sleeve.