grant cochrane / freedigitalphotos.net
We all know that the Hip-Hop scene isn’t the same without clothing brands. Over the course of Hip Hop’s existence, there have been a number of brands that have been embraced and created by artists and fans. Some influential brands, like Karl Kani or Cross Colours, haven’t been able to survive the times. While other brands, such as POLO, are as popular as ever.
While there have been plenty of popular Hip-Hop fashion brands, not all are equal. So with that in mind, and in no particular order, here are 10 of the most popular Hip-Hop fashion brands that have stood the test of time and are still rocking the Hip-Hop community.
Since its launch in 1999, Rocawear has not only been creating trends, its been one of the most popular hip-hop fashion brands around. Rocawear was founded by Roc-A-Fella Records co-founders Damon Dash and Jay-Z to reflect their own personal style of dress. Since 1999, the brand has been known for its exceptional quality and unforgettable designs. Today, the brand has annual sales of $700 million and has clothing lines and accessories for men, women and children. In 2011, it was announced that Rocawear had partnered with Pharrell Williams’ clothing label, Billionaire Boys Club.
Founded in 1969 as Cuggi in Toorak, Melbourne, Australia, the label known for its colorful knitwear, was renamed Coogi in 1987 to sound more like an indigenous Australian name. However, Coogi became essential in the hip-hop community after Christopher “Notorious BIG” Wallace mentioned the brand when he rapped “I stay Coogi down to the socks” in the track “One More Chance.” Since then, celebs that include Russell Simmons, LL Cool J, Megan Good, Ice T, Vivica Fox, Stacey Dash, Jay-Z, and Damon Dash have rocked the line. After being purchased in 2002 by U.S. investors, Coogi now focuses on a wide range of urban t-shirts, jeans and jackets in addition to their trademark knitwear.
Before starting this innovating line in 1999, the man behind Akademiks, Donwan Harrell, had been designing for high-profile fashion brands such as Joseph Abboud, Donna Karan, and Nike. After teaming up with his wife, Jahayra, and brother, Emmett, Donwan expanded his Akademiks brand from a men’s apparel line into a brand that included women, children, accessories, footwear and outerwear divisions. The brand got a huge bump in 2001 after Fabolous included Akademiks in one of his songs from his debut album Ghetto Fabolous. Rappers like Dizzee Rascal and 50 Cent have helped popularize the brand’s PRPS jeans.
Akademiks / Facebook
The mogul, Sean Combs, fulfilled a lifelong dream in 1998 after he launched a signature collection of sportswear under his name, Sean John. Since its debut, Sean John has had both critical and commercial success for being sophisticated yet having an urban sensibility and style. In fact, for five consecutive years since 2000, Sean John has been nominated for its excellence in design at the award ceremony for the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). And in 2004, Sean John was awarded the CFDA Men’s Designer of the Year. Today, the urban and hip-hop fashion brand includes a fragrance line, exceeds $100 million annually in revenue and has been worn by Nelly, T.I., Fabolous, Game, Dolla, Rick Ross, Busta Rhymes, and Dwyane Wade.
Sean John / Instagram
The legendary sports shoe company was founded as Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory) all the way back in 1924 by brothers Adolf “Adi” and Rudolf “Rudi” Dassler. It gained worldwide attention after Adi persuaded U.S. sprinter Jesse Owens to use them during the 1936 Summer Olympics, where Owens went on to win four gold medals. But the brand captured the hip-hop community in 1983 when Run-D.M.C wore Adidas Superstars on stage. They even released a song, “My Adidas,” in 1986. The trio popularized the brand so much that Adidas signed them to an advertising deal for a cool one million dollars.
Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, debuted Phat Farm as a small New York City showroom in 1992. After establishing itself as “an upscale mix of sporty urban fashions,” the brand became a multi-million dollar business. Phat Farm was so popular that in 2003, it was earning $300 million in revenues, and its shoe line was outselling Nike, Adidas, and Reebok. There’s no denying that Phat Farm, and its offshoot Baby Phat, remain one of the world’s premier hip-hop fashion brands.
Fashion designer Marc “Echo” Milecofsky began selling graffiti-style T-shirts in the mid 1980s. He officially launched Ecko Unltd. in 1993 with investments from his twin sister, Marci, and friend, Seth Gerszberg. By the early 2000s, the label became a crucial part of the urban culture with artists like Eminem and 50 Cent sporting clothes from the brand. Beginning in 2003, Ghostface Killah, Fat Joe, Talib Kweli, and Mobb Deep were all featured in Ecko marketing campaigns. Today, Ecko is the largest streetwear brand and earns $1 billion in global revenue.
One of the most popular sportswear companies was founded on January 25, 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. On May 30, 1978, the company named themselves after the Greek goddess of victory and became Nike, Inc. By 1980, Nike controlled over 50% of the market share in the US athletic shoe market. Nike became an essential part of the urban streetwear sneaker market after the introduction of Air Jordans in 1985. Today, the company earns over $ 24 billion in revenue and is a leader in athletic footwear, apparel, equipment, and accessories.
Since its inception in 1999, LRG (Lifted Research Group) has proven that its one of the hottest brands around. In fact, Entrepreneur magazine ranked the company at #5 on its Hot 500 list of fastest-growing companies in 2007. LRG was founded by Jonas Bevacqua and MC Robert Wright in Orange County, California. Prior to starting LRG, Wright worked for clothing companies like Quiksilver, O’Neill, and Katin. In 2005, the brand started a women’s line called called Luxirie. In 2006, they teamed up with T-Mobile for a limited-edition Sidekick III, which sold out quickly. Today, track jackets, jeans, shirts, sweaters, and hats from LRG have become a staple in the world of hip-hop fashion.
The North Face
The North Face brand was launched 1968 in San Francisco, after Douglas Tompkins and Kenneth “Hap” Klopp created an equipment retail store. They acquired the name “The North Face” because the north face of a mountain in the northern hemisphere is generally the most difficult face to climb. Very quickly, the small upstart company began manufacturing and producing their own outdoor goods, outerwear, and camping equipment. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the brand experienced a growth in popularity with the rise of wilderness chic. Hip-hop stars quickly embraced the brand despite the expensive price tags.
Images via Wikipedia unless noted otherwise