Even those who aren’t in the Hip-Hop community are aware that fashion and Hip Hop go hand in hand. Besides the music itself, fashion is probably the most important element of Hip Hop. Which is why we’ve seen our favorite artists sport their favorite designers or brands in lyrics, videos and up on-stage. And, it’s not uncommon for artists to team up with designers and brands for their own celebrity line, like Adidas and Run-D.M.C. or Rihanna and River Island.
But, throughout the years, there have been just as many artists who have actually gone out and launched their own fashion brands.
Unfortunately, even if the artist is popular, that doesn’t guarantee success. Some brands have closed shop (50 Cent’s G Unit Clothing Line). Some have been put down by critics (Kanye West’s DW). Others have had a major overhaul (Mrs. Carter’s House of Deréon), and some are just beginning (Chris Brown’s Black Pyramid).
Just because those artists and their brands who were mentioned, along with Biggie, OutKast, Snoop, Common and Master P, have failed or having some problems, there are the success stories. For the successful brands that were started or owned by Hip-Hop artists, they’ve become a crucial piece of the movement. And, here are 8 successful fashion brands that were established or owned by Hip-Hop stars to prove that point.
We all know the story by now. Rocawear was founded by Jay-Z and Damon Dash back in 1999 and has become a classic and well-known brand that’s raking in an astounding $700 million a year. Ciara is the brand’s face, and they’re making everything from footwear to eyewear now. For any future entrepreneurs out there, this is how you start and run a fashion brand.
Another iconic brand started by a Hip-Hop artist is obviously Sean John. Diddy, who used his given first and middle names for the apparel company’s name, debuted it in 1998. The clothing and fragrance brand has been worn by the likes of Dwyane Wade, Busta Rhymes and Rick Ross, to name a few, and brings in a solid $132 million a year.
Sean John / Facebook
Phat Farm/Baby Phat
Even though Russell Simmons isn’t an artist, he’s one of Hip Hop’s most well-known figures. With a net worth of about $340 million, the Def Jam founder is the third-richest person in hip hop. His fashion line, Phat Farm, was unveiled in 1992. It started out in a small New York City showroom and has grown into a multi-million dollar business. The now-legendary brand is known for its upscale mix of sporty urban fashions with classic Ivy League preppy style.
In 1998, a line for girls and women known as Baby Phat, was launched. The successful “sibling” of Phat Farm was established by Simmons and his ex-wife, Kimora Lee Simmons. Besides clothing, Baby Phat makes jewelry, shoes, fragrances, phone accessories, and medical uniforms.
Phat Farm and Baby Phat / Facebook
Inspired by the term that describes the tight-fitting jeans that make women’s curves look like the shape of an apple, Nelly dropped his Apple Bottoms brand in 2003. The fashion and lifestyle brand for women originally just sold denim, but has since expanded to include women’s and girl’s tops, fragrances, and accessories. Nelly started the lesser-known Vokal brand as well.
Apple Bottoms / Facebook
Lil’ Wayne launched his skater-inspired TRUKFIT brand in 2012. The brand got its name from Weezy’s experiences as a kid, where people would sell merchandise from clothing booster trucks, and when a fake was spotted, they would yell out “You got on the truck fit.”
TRUKFIT / Facebook
Billionaire Boys Club/Ice Cream
Established by Pharrell and Japanese music producer and DJ, Nigo, in 2005, Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream sells tees, polos, sweatshirts, suits, hats, sneakers, underwear, socks and accessories. Because the items are produced in very limited quantities, they are usually sold for high prices. In 2011, BBC partnered up with Rocawear.
Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream / Facebook
A.K.O.O. Clothing, which is an acronym for “A King Of Oneself, launched in 2008. The men’s fashion line was founded by T.I. and is a contemporary streetwear brand for those seeking exceptional style. A.K.O.O. focuses on premium lightweight T-Shirts, cardigans, sweaters, embroidered wovens, leather jackets, and quality denim products.
Wu-Wear / Facebook
After the success of their debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), in 1995, manufacturers saw money signs. After the group’s second album, 1997’s Wu-Tang Forever, their clothing line, Wu-Wear, was launched. It’s rumored that Method Man wasn’t happy about the group getting into the fashion biz, but it’s speculated that Wu-Wear has made millions of bucks.
Wu-Wear / Facebook