Every year, February rolls around and the same figures in Black history are showcased: Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King. These two extremely important people receive well-deserved praise, however, they both represent Black history in a fashion that only sheds light on the combatting of violent oppression.
While it’s important to educate people about these crucial figures and events in history, other parts of Black history better showcase the creativity and positivity within Black culture. This is especially apparent in hip-hop culture. Hip-hop not only details the Black struggle, but also displays the joyous sides of Black culture that I am very fond of, especially ‘90s hip-hop artists who used their successes to create and support fashion brands.
In honor of Black History Month, I want to discuss three brands founded between the1990s and the 2000s, that were established by, and for, black hip-hop artists and are still relevant today.
FUBU: FUBU, established in 1992, stands for “For Us, By Us.” Created by Daymond John, FUBU was popularized by famous hip-hop artists like LL Cool J, Dr. Dre and Ludacris. At its peak in the early 2000s, it grossed $350 million a year. Although its public profile has faded within the past decade, the brand is still important to Black culture. FUBU has been credited for starting the wave of hip-hop fashion brands but unfortunately lost momentum in the mid-2000s. FUBU clothing is still available for purchase and its legacy lingers in Black musical and athletic spaces.
Phat Farm/ Baby Phat: Baby Phat and Phat Farm are his-and-hers brands created by Russell and Kimora Simmons, which peaked in the 2000s. Following the resurgence of 2000s fashion, Forever 21 recently collaborated with Baby Phat for an exclusive “winter wonderland” themed collection that features early Y2K-inspired design elements. Both brands include the title “Phat,” which is an informal adjective from the ‘60s meaning excellent or highly attractive. The usage of “phat” increased in popularity in the hip-hop community in the ‘90s. Phat Farm claims to have “changed mainstream fashion by bringing into light the hip-hop style with a preppy twist into center stage.”
Apple Bottom Jeans: We’ve all heard the infamous line from the song “Low” by Flo Rida: “She got the Apple Bottom jeans, boots with the fur…” While sung by many at every function, very few people in this generation know the origin of the Apple Bottom jeans. Created by Nelly, a rapper best known for his song “Dilemma” ft. Kelly Rowland, the famous jeans have apple-shaped back pockets and reached peak popularity in the 2000s. Today, you can’t purchase Apple Bottom Jeans firsthand but new styles are coming soon. I would love to get some Apple Bottoms and fur boots so I can wear the famous outfit myself.
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