Urban Fashion came into play in the late 1970s when established brands, such as Troop, Kangol, Adidas, and Nike themselves to the emerging hip-hop scene. During the 1980s, hip-hop royalty wore items such as brightly colored tracksuits, sheepskin and leather bomber jackets, Clarks and hi-top – sometimes with no laces.
In the 1990s and beyond, many hip hop artists and executives started their fashion labels and clothing lines. Notable examples include Nelly’s Vokal and Apple Bottom Jeans, Diddy’s Sean John, and Damon Dash and Jay-Z’s Rocawear. In the coming weeks, we’ll discuss all of these clothing lines, but this week, we’ll be taking a look back at the clothing Phat Farm.
Phat Farm was an urban fashion line created by Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam records. Russell and his team envisioned it as a symbol of men’s contemporary American culture – mixing street and Ivy League aesthetics. It all came together in 1992, at a small New York City showroom, and rose to become a multi-million dollar business. Their success is attributed to quality, design, and support of mom & pop retailers through strategic marketing and advertising. From the consumers aspect, Phat Farm delivered a universal message that broke stereotypes and ethnic boundaries. It created a new standard in sportswear and establishing itself as the complete American lifestyle brand.
After it established itself and cemented its status, Phat Farm expanded to include Baby Phat, a brand that encompassed women’s wear, as well as, eyeglasses, fragrances, and children’s clothing. It’s essentially the corporate “sibling”, and headed by Russell’s (ex) wife, Kimora Lee Simmons.
Their iconic broken flag logo – visible on every clothing article except footwear – symbolizes “the state of separation” society is in right now. It’s almost eerie how fitting that is if we look at the current state the nation. Although the brand isn’t quite the powerhouse it once was, it’s impossible to ignore the impact it had on hip-hop culture and Russell’s bank account.