Case Study: The Best and Worst Hip-Hop Fashion Lines

January 11, 2011  |  

By Brittany Hutson

Nowadays, when music artists get the itch to step away from the industry and dive into the world of entrepreneurship, it’s pretty much no surprise that their first venture is a clothing line. But according to Kristin Bentz, retail analyst and president of Talented Blonde, LLC, “the era of the celeb-designer is close to being over, if not already. When the recession hit, so many rappers/actors/personalities rushed to get licensing deals. So now we are overrun at retail with the remnants of rappers past.”

We collaborated with Bentz to critique some of hip-hop’s hottest lines that are still memorable today, not only for their sales, but also for their massive appeal to consumers and demonstrated business savvy on the part of the artist; as well as some of hip-hop’s less memorable brands due to high pricing points, an absence of solid promotion and mismanagement.

Here are Bentz’s picks for fashion lines that have been leaders in the artist-designer arena:

Phat Farm

Russell Simmons was undoubtedly the pioneer of the celeb-designer phenomenon with the launch of Phat Farm in 1992, which combined the urban aesthetics of the streets and the preppy culture of the Ivy League for men. Successful lines such as Phat Farm are “established by tier one rapper/artists that truly have the star power and financial backing to hire superior management teams and designers, as well as [finance] multi-million dollar ad campaigns,” says Bentz. Another example the demonstrates Simmons’ business savvy and why the brand has lasted for nearly two decades was his decision to sell Phat Farm to the Kellwood Company in 2004 for $140 million. “Brands are sold to large publicly-held companies that know how to merchandise, manage and promote a brand much better than the celebs who own the company are able to.”

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