I love having fashion talk as much as I love having gym talk! Discussing the art, business, politics and different genres of menswear with someone just as excited, opinionated and knowledgeable about the industry is even more thinspiring. Afterwards I get this high and rush of adrenaline to shop, recreate or reorganize my closet even hit the gym to fit the garments I’ve just put in my online shopping cart.
I was on video chat with one of my favorite menswear crooners and the topic of discuss as we both were procrastinating or daily trip to gym was the growing trend of urban-wear in high-end fashion vs the declining trend of once prominent urban houses.
I mean you see it, Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy ss15 collection included wave caps and not to mention collaborating with Nike, to high-fashion red-carpet dressmakers Marchesa sending models down the runway with cornrows even shoe designers like Giuseppe Zanotti producing sneakers inspired by urban shoe enthusiasts. One can even call this suction of life from a flamboyant culture the lipo of a sometimes segregated but many times glorified culture.
Do have I a problem with the re-appropriation of Black culture style of dress into white/mass culture? No. I rather support it, I am excited to see the things I love to wear or have been apart of my culture for years being accepted by others. We all do it, from being inspired to wear Kaftans, Moccasins or wide-brim hats to incorporate other street culture in our aesthetics i.e. skater, motocross and west-coast vibe. Style should be all inclusive, we all take from different religions, cultures, races, regions and time periods to create this subjective hodgepodge we call style and fashion.
As I was discussing with my thin fashion savvy friend, I do have a problem with my culture not capitalizing on our own personal style. Take the time period of 1999-2000 for example, hip-hop, urban and rap was at it’s prime and influenced the fashion industry heavily such as, legendary American designers Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger where they revamp their entire brands for kids and adults who were into the rap hip-hop scene. This big business fashion phenomenon skyrocketed well into the early millennium pop era and suburban areas then, finally African American designers got in on the act. We had brands like Phat Pharm, Sean Jean, Apple Bottom, Karl Kani, Coogie and Marithé et François Girbaud leading the way by creating and dictating what was chic in the fashion community from about 2004-2008 right before designer denim became popular.
However, now people wouldn’t be caught dead wearing any of those designers. Not because the names are old, dated or their quality of production is bad but the innovation and imagination is gone. No one is wearing their clothing three sizes too big, brand’s names plastered all over the pieces nor is fashion that hardcore anymore. But as the last two seasons of fashion weeks from New York, London to Paris and Malin has came and went you can’t help but notice the major mark and influence that these once toast of town fashion houses are playing a huge part in today’s designer’s aesthetics. Just review Valentino, Alexander Wang, Frankie Morello and Pyer Moss collections and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.
The reason why hip-hop brands has phased out is because they phased themselves out by not staying current and evolving their collections. I believe such brands as Girbaud, Akademiks and Sean Jean can make a major comeback to the runway if they just pay attention the current state of street fashion and cater to the fashion conscious youth of today. Street-wear is still heavy as it was 8 years ago, except it have became more streamline, structural, androgynous and edgy. Gone are the days of gaudy menswear. If only these urban brands could take the direction high-end fashion houses are taking as they take this new approach to urban-wear.
I guess one brand heard my hunger cries… Rocawear got the memo. As they are throwing their needle back into the sewing game they are making over the whole brand to cater to the same and new audience in the high fashion climate of now.
Rocawear BLAK is described as a fresh chapter for the brand targeting the young, style-conscious, male consumer. What I love about this fresh chapter is that they understands that fashion has changed in the hip-hop community and that it’s more of a pristine look. Still masculine, tough and dark but not so rugged or disheveled in structure and lacking innovations or taste.
Even hip-hop music has changed to rappers wearing and singing about their favorite high-end designers, that’s why It was obvious to get the beyond stylish rap artist Fabolous to be face of the relaunch of the brand. Fabolous is known for his cool urban sartorial style. He is young enough to captivate new fashionable males and been around long enough to usher older fashion males into this new age of street-wear.
Right in time for winter the brand will be pushing their new collection around the holiday season and hopefully the tremendous growth and maturity of the collection will be able to compete the likes of Alexander Wang and Neil Barrett. Even though, the brand have some taste issues to work out I’m happy the motivation is there.
Let me read your weigh-in on the current state of urban-wear and new direction of Rocawear?