True History of Urban Clothing and StreetWear
Style has been part of the urban and African-American culture for generations but with the rise of Hip Hop during the late 1980s and 1990s many clothing lines became strictly based around catering to the rap movement.
Before America’s urban community had their own clothing lines, many would wear Starter, which produced clothing of one’s favorite sports team, or the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica and Polo.
Clothing brand’s like Kangol, a company founded by a Polish man by the name of Jacques Spreiregen, were very popular with their signature bucket caps as this English company was very iconic during the early days of Hip Hop.
Some of the first European clothing lines to be popular within urban culture were Marithé + François Girbaud of France, or Girbaud for short, and Bally’s, which was founded in Switzerland.
This is up for debate as many cities may different as far what was trending in their community since the fashion culture’s popularity was not as widespread as the times we are in now due to social media and the ease to spread influence throughout the country.
The arrival of FUBU during the 1990s spearheaded a movement of clothing lines and brands that were strictly for the urban community and the Hip Hop culture. The famous clothing line of FUBU was founded in the early 1990s by a group of African-Americans by the late 1990s and early 2000s the company reached its peak.
Following the rise of FUBU many followed suit, whether they decided to start after they saw the success of FUBU or the momentum of FUBU’s urban wear led to the popularity of other brands that were already established.
Eventually more black owned clothing lines like Miskeen, Akademiks and Karl Kani would become popular and as well as many urban clothing lines like Lot29, a brand that was under South Pole, or LRG (Lifted Research Group) both founded by Asians from the New York area and California.
Outside of clothing lines of t-shirts and jeans, Pelle Pelle and Avirex leather coats popularity was important in some regions with Pelle Pelle being founded in the Detroit region and Avirex being founded in New York, which would later become owned by clothing mogul Marc Ecko.
Hip Hop and rap moguls would eventually get involved in the hip hop clothing line business with some of the most successful being Jay-Z’s and Roc-A-Fella’s Roc-A-Wear, P. Diddy’s Sean John, or Russell Simmons’ Phat Farm.
Other artist came with their own brand like State Property of Beanie Siegel, Outkast’s clothing brand, Nelly’s Vokal, or 50 Cent’s G-Unit, together with numerous others of black owned clothing lines of streetwear.
While some clothing lines became established before others the time frame for the era of urban clothing lines and brands popularity were between the late 1990s and into the very beginning of the 2010s.
Ironically, the majority of these clothing lines of streetwear were not necessarily black owned clothing lines or created by people from the urban community, even though the many brands represented America’s hip hop culture and wear labeled as hip hop clothing.
As the Polo brand became popular during the beginning of the 2010s the movement of urban clothing lines and black owned clothing lines and businesses creating brands for their community eventually came to a halt, mainly due to the marketing efforts that were promoted by Hip Hop artist.
Further into the decade of the 2010s, European owned clothing lines took over as the new trend and fad for hip hop clothing, from Gucci to Fendi to Givenchy the vast majority of these very expensive European owned clothing lines have been catering their designs towards the urban community.
Despite the efforts of European clothing lines, there are still many urban streetwear or black owned clothing lines like Nipsey Hussle’s Marathon, Dope Era out of the city of Oakland, Bosslife by Slim Thug, or Milano Di Rouge of Philadelphia.