All the time Spike Lee has been a pioneer of Streetwear.


The filmmaker always particularly focused on style and trends: he pays meticulous attention to the costumes of his characters, as well as to his personal look, from which emerges an evident obsession with Sneaker Culture and Streetwear.

Lee anticipated, at least twenty years ago, some of today’s fashion trends. Find out which ones!

Producer, director, writer, actor, activist, Sneakerhead.
Whatever title or appellation you try to call him, it will always be reductive: Spike Lee is an eclectic, versatile artist who creates provocative feature films, touching on sensitive issues such as racial hatred, politics, and gang violence with the ease of a hot knife sinking into butter.

She began her career at the age of 20, shooting amateur films in her neighborhood, Brooklyn; coming to success in 1986 with her first film for the cinema: ‘She’s Gotta Have It’, shot in a fortnight and costing $175,000, grossed more than $7 million at the box office (an absolute record).

In his first film work he tackles head-on, and in an ironic way, the obsession with trainers and Streetwear on the part of the ‘new rich’ of NY; the gentrification of certain neighborhoods revalued according to the ruthless laws of the market; the difficult coexistence between ethnic groups sharing the same strip of street.

Both in front of and behind the camera, Spike Lee is always particularly focused to style and trends: he pays meticulous attention to the costumes of his characters, who must always be impeccable and express their personalities in an expressive manner through the clothes (and shoes) they wear; as well as his personal look, from which emerges an evident obsession with Sneaker Culture an Streetwear.

In some of his public moments he has literally anticipated trends by at least twenty years.
We have collected them in 5 highlights: Find out what they are now!

The NY Yankees New Era Cap in Red.

Lee is an avid Basketball fan, has followed the New York Knicks since he was a kid, and is madly in love with Baseball, obviously rooting for the NY Yankees.
It was at an NFL game in 1996 that he proved to be an absolute pioneer of the streetwear of the near future. He wanted to match his new purple and red fleece jacket with one of his New Era caps, (official supplier of all MLB and NFL game caps), but at the time the brand only produced Blue Navy caps.

So he decides to call Chris Koch CEO of New Era – to ask him for a special, customised edition of the iconic cap with embossed NY embroidery: it must be red. Koch hesitates, then relents: he will ask permission to produce a range of different colours, such as green, yellow and of course red, so that he can always match them with his outfits.
During the Yankees’ final game in Atlanta in 1996, Spike Lee wore his favourite scarlet red cap, and unknowingly opened up a new commercial direction for the brand: an endless range of colours to choose from.

The colbaco fur hat

We have seen it several times worn by Tyler, the Creator, associated with his preppy outfits. In fact, the first person to make fur colbaco hat (real or faux), combined with streetwear looks, was Spike Lee, during the New York Knicks‘ final game at Madison Square Garden in 1987.

Since then, at every match, Lee has provided extravagant and unforgettable outfits, pairing voluminous, brightly coloured bearskins, such as orange, red or yellow, with Knicks Jersey vests.

The Afro Streetwear style

In ‘Do the Right Thing’, Lee pioneered several trends, one of them being the colourful Afro-streetwear style: Afro-pattern prints and the colour scheme of the Pan-African flag, i.e. black, red and green, applied on varsity jackets (of American culture), T-shirts and shorts.

The aesthetic inspired Nike to create the ‘Jungle Forever’ collection in 1993, which included not only a bomber jacket with leather sleeves and African graphics, but also the first Nike Air Raid in the brand’s history.

The Jordan Spiz’ike

We have already talked about Spike Lee’s passion for the NBA and the NY Knicks; nevertheless, the director has never hidden his esteem and the great friendship that binds him to the great MJ (albeit from the opposing team of the Chicago Bulls), who is always present in his films and in various commercials.

In 2006, this friendship was transformed into a special Jordan silhouette that consisted of a mashup of several of the brand’s models: the 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 20. Since the new model was meant to seal and celebrate the long-standing esteem between the two, it was called the Spiz’Ike: a hybrid of Spike and Mike.
The Spiz’ike featured the midsole and outsole of the AJ IIIs, the wing stap of the AJ IVs, upper and lace stop of the Vs and the tongue of the VIs.

So in 2006, to celebrate the Jumpman‘s long relationship with the director, the Jordan Spiz’ike was launched, a mashup between several of the brand’s silhouettes: the III, IV, V, VI, IX and XX.

The 2006 OG model featured a red and white upper with black detailing and a green outsole, while the iconic Elephant Skin pattern was placed on the heel and toe.
The new generation of collectors greatly appreciated the new hybrid, which in many ways was the first to bring trainer culture closer to haute couture, as would happen only several years later with the first collaborations between Maison houses and sportswear brands.

Daddy style on holiday

Today, it is trendy to wear short-sleeved, Hawaiian-patterned, colourful, vintage shirts, perhaps paired with the latest sneakers. But when Spike Lee did it, in the middle of the 1980s, this look was considered out-of-fashion: the typical way of dressing for dads on holiday, relaxed and unconcerned about style. Thanks to Spike Lee, it became a disengaged and cool trend.

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