Fifteen years ago, the idea that music mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs could be considered a serious rival to Ralph Lauren was as laughable as the notion that Barack Obama could be president of the United States. But after Combs won the Menswear Designer of the Year award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) in 2004, and his brand Sean John began selling exclusively to Macy's in spring 2011, it’s now clear that hip hop fashion is no joke.
This book sources interviews with scholars, urban designers, music experts, financial analysts, retailers, and hip hop celebrities to chronicle the compelling story of how hip hop transformed the fashion world and exploded into a $3 billion clothing industry.
For years, designers and manufacturers took cues from the streets to enhance their clothing lines, but before the 1980s the urban consumer was never recognized as a viable demographic. In a push to appeal to young customers, the fashion industry began hiring and backing talented African American designers and entrepreneurs. This seemingly unconventional union made business sense: seasoned fashion executives brought proven track records, while aspiring designers provided street credibility and a fresh perspective on design. The end result: a multi-billion dollar industry.
This book traces the fascinating unfolding of hip hop fashion from its roots to the present day. It explores how hip hop transitioned from “the hood” to the runway; how race, ethnicity, and culture played into commercialism; how celebrities impacted the fashion industry; and what ultimately led major department stores to jump on the urban bandwagon. Utilizing the author's journalistic lens and based upon interviews with urban fashion designers, entrepreneurs, fashion veterans, trend forecasters, and hip hop celebrities, each chapter is akin to an oral history that provides not just facts but also invaluable analysis and historical perspective.
• A foreword by Daymond John, cofounder of FUBU, star of ABC's The Shark Tank, and author of The Display of Power and The Brand Within
• A chronology of 20th-century fashion styles as well as urban fashion from the late 1970s to present
• Many photographs of pioneering urban designers, hip hop fashion trends, hip hop celebrities, and more
• A multicultural bibliography containing significant materials from the fields of history, music, culture, and fashion
• Represents the first book to comprehensively chronicle the business, history, distinctive style, controversy, and social implications of urban fashion
• Details how hip hop celebrities became some of today's leading fashion designers
• Includes images taken by legendary hip hop photographers Ernie Paniccioli and Jamel Shabazz, as well as Ronnie Wright
• Examines how several multi-million-dollar apparel brands succeeded or failed in the apparel business, including Cross Colours, Karl Kani, FUBU, Ecko Unlimited, and Sean John