Hip Hop Clothing Brands
Top 20 Urban Clothing Brands of 1990s and 2000s
Style has been part of America’s urban culture for generations, but with the rise of hip hop during the 1980s and 1990s, many urban clothing brands became strictly based around catering to the hip hop culture movement.
Before hip hop clothing brands, many would wear Starter, which produced clothing of one’s favorite sports team, or the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica and Polo. Clothing brands like Kangol, an English company founded by Jacques Spreiregen, was also very popular with their signature bucket caps, becoming iconic during the early days of hip hop.
The arrival of FUBU during the 1990s spearheaded a movement of urban clothing brands for the 2000s, despite hip hop clothing brands like Karl Kani and Mecca being active streetwear brands during the 1990s. This movement became strictly for the urban community and for the country’s hip hop culture, leading to the creation of numerous urban clothing brands.
Eventually numerous urban clothing brands in 2000s were started, especially as hip hop and rap moguls eventually became involved by creating their own line of clothing. Some of the most successful were Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella’s Roc-A-Wear, P. Diddy’s Sean John, and Russell Simmons’ Phat Farm. Other artists would eventually come up with their own hip hop clothing brands, like State Property from Beanie Siegel, Outkast’s clothing brand, Nelly’s Vokal, and 50 Cent’s G-Unit.
As the Polo brand became popular during the beginning of the 2010s the movement of urban clothing lines eventually came to a halt, mainly due to the marketing efforts that were promoted by the top hip hop artists. Further into the decade of the 2010s and now into the 2020s, European owned clothing lines took over as the new trend and fad for hip hop clothing. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Balenciaga, Givenchy, and others, despite being unaffordable to many, have been catering their designs towards the urban community.
Top 20 Hip Hop and Urban Clothing Brands
The start of the whole urban streetwear movement was through the success of FUBU, “For Us, By Us,” sparking a movement proving that anyone can do it. Launched during the early 1990s by mogul and entrepreneur Daymond John, among others, FUBU quickly found popularity during the 1990s and early 2000s. From its beginning, FUBU gained more and more popularity with various styles, like the city jersey series and the Fat Albert collection.
With success in music and hip hop, along with much recognition in pop culture, Roc-A-Fella Records released their own of fashion line called Rocawear. The RW became one of the most iconic logos of the hip hop clothing brands and the streetwear wardrobe. Throughout the 2000s, Rocawear, as well the offshoot State Property brand, was among urban and hip-hop culture’s top brands.
3. Sean Jean
Founded by Sean Combs during the late 1990s, P. Diddy’s business and connections in hip hop helped with marketing for the label that became known as Sean Jean (pronounce John). Out all the top urban clothing brands of the 2000s, Sean Jean was the more classier label, diversifying its designs from active wear to casual wear, even released its own fragrance.
4. Phat Farm/Baby Phat
Russell Simmons, and eventually his wife Kimora Simmons, created the most popular his and hers collection of fashion. Phat Farm for menswear, and Baby Phat for womenswear, saw a quick rise during the 2000s. While Phat Farm was started first, the popularity of Baby Phat surpassed Phat Farm, becoming one of women’s most popular brand of clothing.
5. Girbaud Jeans
Marithé et François Girbaud, the make that developed the number one pair of jeans. A look that became so popular and so iconic with the strap below the knees, all that was needed was a plain white tee or a wife beater tanktop to go along with a pair of Girbaud Jeans. Founded during the 1960s, from the 1980s to the 2000s, Girbaud was almost everyone’s favorite go to brand for streetwear.
With the legendary M logo, Mecca was one of the original hip hop clothing brands, dating back to the 1990s. Mecca grew with many hip hop lovers and many of pop and urban culture saw top rap artists and celebrities like Notorious BIG sporting a Mecca shirt. With over a ten-year run in the industry, Mecca was one of the most popular brands of its time.
7. Karl Kani
Founded by a Brooklyn native, Karl Kani became quite famous during the 1990s, often seen wearing by 2Pac, Dr. Dre and other rap and urban stars. Beginning with the cursive Kani logo, the New York fashion brand evolved over time with various styles, becoming versatile clothing company. Karl Kani was the most popular brand in hip hop during the 1990s.
Made famous by Notorious BIG, originally, Coogi was strictly known for sweaters, consisting of an iconic design of knitted colorful patterns. Following years of popularity and growth, Coogi began venturing into other designs, t-shirts, jeans, and even casual wear. From beginning as a small Australian company, Coogi eventually found its way into the culture of the streets and hip-hop.
9. Apple Bottom Jeans
“She got apple bottom jeans,” quoting a famous T-Pain line, the renowned brand of Apple Bottom Jeans was women’s version of popular jeans from their male counterparts, like Girbaud and Evisu jeans. With the help of one of the top rapper of the 2000s, Nelly, women easily stood out with a pair of Apple Bottom jeans.
A distinctive design that combined artwork of graffiti work and paintings, Miskeen Originals was more so a high-class urban clothing brand, peaking during the mid and late 2000s. An Arabic word meaning poor, Miskeen Originals began in the streets of Philadelphia and made its way across the nation.
A New York brand, with multiple pronunciations, started out during the late 1990s, becoming quite popular during its later years, before being sold to Liz Claiborne, and later to Sean “P. Diddy” Combs.
Founded by two brothers, Akademiks was among the most popular of the 2000s, and possibly consisted with the most creative designs of all urban clothing brands. Since its arrival into stores, Akademiks represented a combination of hip-hop culture and education, as quoted the “Jeanius Level.”
Only a brief moment of notoriety among the hip hop streetwear culture, but Lot29 made its mark during the early and mid-2000s. Lot29 was famously known for its trademark look, a design based around Looney Tunes characters in urban settings.
The Lifted Research Group appeared as one of the top brands of the 2000s. With significant growth following its release, LRG eventually became a pop culture phenomenon in fashion by expanding into the realm of pop culture. Founded by two individuals who had the knowledge of fashion industry ins and outs and the right connections that were needed, it did not take long for LRG to become a success.
15. A Bathing Ape
Still popular today, top rappers and hip-hop artists brought the necessary attention to the brand during the 2000s, making it a highly exclusive to own a pair of A Bathing Apes. Known for the unique sneaker design, patent leather with the star and lighting bolt on the side. An iconic brand for urban culture, expanding its popularity from the United States to Asia, after being founded and created in Japan by creator Nigo,
16. True Religion
Following the popularity of a number of jean companies within the hip-hop world, like Evisou and Girbaud, True Religion emerged during their rise to the top of the 2000s and 2010s, at least until the late 2010s as the popularity declined and eventually filed for bankruptcy.
Another exclusive brand founded within Japan’s urban culture, Evisu was the go-to designer brand long before luxurious brands like Gucci, Balenciaga, and other high end companies from Europe began catering to hip hop and urban crowds. With the iconic design on the back side of the jeans, easily stood out, but due to its expensive cost, a pair was highly exclusive.
Founded by rapper T.I. and his Grand Hustle partners, AKOO was one of the last hip hop clothing brands founded and was one of the last remain relevant as crowds veering more towards Polo and other suburban brands. Remaining a popular brand during the early 2010s. With the help of T.I.’s popularity as one of the top rappers in hip-hop, as well friendships with other popular rappers.
No other fashion trend was more popular than the Starter jackets during the 1990s, but following the trend of Starter jackets, Avirex quickly emerged as the number one winter wear. While its creation was during the 1970s, originally for military apparel, Avirex became on top of hip hop fashion trends during the 1990s and 2000s.
20. Pelle Pelle
Quite similar to Avirex, Pelle Pelle was an exclusive streetwear for the everyone’s winter wardrobe. Founded in Detroit during the 1970s, Pelle Pelle became quite popular and often seen being sported by hip-hop’s top rappers. Eventually, Pelle Pelle expanded into women’s wear, menswear of t-shirts and jeans,
– Ed Hardy
Based around the career of the most legendary tattoo artists of all-time, Ed Hardy’s unique style of hats and t-shirts with tattoo designs led to a brief moment into the realm of hip-hop.
– Von Dutch
The popularity of Von Dutch came around the time of the whole “White Boy, Black Boy” swag era, a phrase made popularity by Atlanta rappers Young Dro and Yung LA during 2000s. First made famous by some of pop cultures top pop, movie and reality stars, but eventually found its way into hip-hop culture.