Hip Hop Fashion
Top 20 Hip Hop Fashion Brands of 90s 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 movement and culture of hip hop.
Before hip hop clothing brands, many would wear Starter jackets and hats, 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 hip hop fashion brands of 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.
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 Fashion Brands of 2000s and 90s
The start of the whole urban streetwear movement was through the success of FUBU, “For Us, By Us,” sparking a moment in hip-hop and the urban community that provided the inspiration and motivation that anyone can do innovate and create their own fashion label. Launched during the early 1990s by mogul and entrepreneur Daymond John, along with several others, FUBU quickly found popularity during the 1990s and early 2000s. From its beginning, FUBU gained more and more popularity with various styles, from the city jersey series to the Fat Albert collection.
The inception of Karl Kani can be traced back to a native of Brooklyn, and it garnered significant popularity as one of the top hip hop fashion brands of 90s. Notably, it was frequently sported by celebrated personalities in the rap and urban scene like 2Pac and Dr. Dre. The brand, initially known for its cursive Kani logo, grew and diversified its fashion styles over time, transforming into a multifaceted apparel company. Consequently, during the 1990s, Karl Kani emerged as the trendiest brand in the hip hop genre.
Sporting the iconic M emblem, Mecca was amongst the pioneers of hip hop fashion industry, tracing its roots back to the 1990s, as one of the leading hip hop fashion brands of 90s. It developed a strong following among hip hop enthusiasts, and was visible in popular and urban culture with top-tier rap artists and celebrities such as Notorious BIG endorsing Mecca’s attire. With a successful decade-long presence in the field, Mecca stood out as one of the most sought-after brands of its era.
Founded by Sean Combs during the late 1990s, P. Diddy’s business and connections among the hip hop world helped with marketing for the fashion label that became known as Sean Jean (pronounce John). Among the top urban clothing brands of the 2000s, Sean Jean stood out as a more sophisticated brand, expanding its product range from sportswear to informal clothing, and even introduced its own fragrance.
Roc-A-Fella Records, known for its achievements in music and hip hop as well as its prominence in pop culture, launched its own fashion brand, Rocawear. The brand’s logo, RW, quickly became a symbol synonymous with hip hop clothing and streetwear. Throughout the 2000s, alongside its sub-brand State Property, Rocawear ranked among the leading brands in urban and hip-hop culture.
A hip hop fashion brand of the 90s, this clothing line from New York known as ENYCE, and recognized by several pronunciations, was established as one of the earlier hip-hop fashion ensembles. Over the years, it grew significantly in popularity until it was eventually purchased first by Liz Claiborne and subsequently by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs.
A Bathing Ape
Top rappers and hip-hop musicians made A Bathing Apes one of the top coveted hip hop fashion brands of 2000s, while still maintaining its popularity today. This brand, known for its distinctive sneaker design featuring a star and lightning bolt on the side in patent leather, has become a significant icon in urban fashion. Originating in Japan by the hands of its founder, Nigo, A Bathing Ape succeeded in extending its popularity beyond Asia, reaching the United States.
The Lifted Research Group emerged as a leading hip hop fashion brand of 2000s. Its substantial growth post-launch led LRG to become a pop-culture sensation in the fashion world, transcending beyond the hip-hop sphere. It was established by two people armed with a deep understanding of the fashion sector’s intricacies and the necessary network, enabling LRG to quickly achieve success.
Marithé et François Girbaud is the creator behind the leading pair of jeans that shaped American hip hop fashion. The design, characterized by a strap beneath the knees, gained iconic status, requiring nothing more than a simple white t-shirt or a tank top to complete the look with a pair of Girbaud Jeans. The brand, which was established in the 1960s, was the preferred choice for streetwear from the 1980s to the 2000s for many individuals.
Phat Farm / Baby Phat
The highly favored unisex fashion line was the brainchild of Russell Simmons and ultimately, his spouse, Kimora Simmons. They introduced Phat Farm for men and Baby Phat for women, both of which skyrocketed to fame in the 2000s. Though Phat Farm was the initial brand, Baby Phat’s popularity outshone it, establishing itself as one of the top female clothing brands.
Initiated by a pair of siblings, Akademiks secured a top spot in popularity as one of the leading hip hop fashion brands of 2000s. Embodying an amalgamation of hip-hop culture and education, it stood out with its highly innovative designs in the urban clothing sector, often referred to as the “Jeanius Level.”
In the midst of the wave of denim brands gaining traction in the hip-hop culture, such as Evisou and Girbaud, True Religion surfaced during their ascent to prominence in the 2000s and 2010s. However, their popularity waned towards the end of the 2010s, leading to bankruptcy. Nevertheless, True Religion has recently made a notable comeback.
Apple Bottom Jeans
The well-known phrase, “She got apple bottom jeans,” a popular line from T-Pain, alludes to the esteemed Apple Bottom Jeans brand. This brand was essentially the female equivalent of popular men’s jeans brands such as Girbaud and Evisu. With the endorsement from Nelly, one of the leading rappers of the 2000s, women wearing Apple Bottom jeans could easily distinguish themselves.
Originally, Coogi was exclusively recognized for its uniquely patterned, colorful knit sweaters, a reputation built by the Notorious BIG. However, after years of increasing popularity and expansion, Coogi started exploring other styles, including t-shirts, jeans, and casual attire. Starting as a modest Australian business, Coogi ultimately integrated itself into street and hip-hop culture.
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.
Evisu, an exclusive brand born out of Japan’s city culture, was the preferred designer label even before high-end European brands started appealing to hip hop and urban audiences. Evisu jeans, with their distinctive design on the rear, were easily recognizable, becoming one of the top hip hop fashion brands of 2000s. However, their high price tag made them particularly exclusive.
Miskeen Originals, a unique and upscale hip hop fashion brand that became prominent during the late 2000s by incorporating elements of graffiti and art into its design. Named after the Arabic term for ‘poor’, it originated from the streets of Philadelphia and expanded its reach nationwide.
Throughout the 1990s, no fashion trend outshone the popularity of Starter jackets, yet Avirex swiftly rose to the forefront as the premier choice for winter attire. Although its inception was in the 1970s, initially for military clothing, Avirex managed to conquer the hip hop fashion scene during the 1990s and 2000s.
Established by hip-hop artist T.I. and his associates from Grand Hustle, AKOO was among the final hip-hop clothing labels to be created and to stay significant. During the early part of the 2010s, AKOO managed to maintain its popularity, thanks in part to T.I.’s status as a leading figure in the hip-hop scene.
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 and menswear of t-shirts and jeans.
Hip Hop Clothing Brands Related Topics:
*The illustrations above are just examples of hip hop fashion, and do not specifically represent or give an accurate depiction any of the above fashion brands highlighted.
*The above list is no particular order.