From Balmain to Chanel, fashion brands have been on a honeymoon with hip hop. But is this new-found love genuine?
Humble is not the first word that comes to mind when you think of Kanye West but, believe it or not, back in 2003 the rapper’s first foray into fashion was very low key. Unbeknown to many, he and a then-unknown Virgil Abloh, West’s sometime creative director and the founder of label du jour Off-White, started out as interns at Fendi, working alongside Silvia Venturini to learn the ropes of the trade.
That fashion and hip hop go way back is no news but things have changed from the days when the world of rap, Kanye West included, was worshipping at the altar of luxury and kept at a distance from it by gatekeeper editors and designers, who thrived on the perceived exclusivity of their industry.
While clothes have played a pivotal role in the history of hip hop from the outset, it was sportswear brands such as Adidas, Reebok and Nike or quintessential US labels like Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren that dominated the closets – and appeared in the videos – of rappers (remember Run-DMC’s 1986 hit “My Adidas”?). While hip hop was always fascinated with high fashion, the love wasn’t mutual and up until the turn of the 21st century, rappers looked at the world of couture with their noses pressed against impenetrable windows.
In 1999 Sean Combs, aka P Diddy, tried to join the big leagues of the New York fashion scene with the launch of his eponymous brand, followed by a personal investment in Zac Posen in 2004. Coverage in US Vogue and industry buzz notwithstanding, his line was never taken seriously and ended up being relegated to the discount racks of Macy’s.
As recently as 2006, champagne maker Cristal was eager to disassociate itself with the bling world of rap: when none other than Jay-Z mentioned the bubbly in one of his lyrics, its CEO was critical of the endorsement and the rapper famously retaliated by boycotting the company, accusing it of being racist. Fast forward to 2013 and not only is Tom Ford honoured to dress him, but his name is also the title of a Jay-Z track that was part of the Magna Carta Holy Grail album. “Who would not be flattered to have an entire Jay-Z track named after them? I mean, come on, it’s pretty rare that something like that happens,” Ford told WWD. “It’s a kind of validation of one’s work, as it means that one has really penetrated and made an impact on popular culture.”
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
One Step Beyond
Dancer and actress JENNA DEWAN TATUM has built a career tripping the light fantastic.
Crown and Glory
The “Forbidden City” plays host to an array of fine art and jewellery, and Chaumet’s aptly named Imperial Splendours exhibition.
Bright Young Things
After some serious time in the limelight, summer’s big make-up trend is finally putting brows in the shade.
The nose behind the reinterpretation of three Bulgari fragrances, Sophie Labbe talks to ZANETA CHENG about the jewels of scent, floral absolutes and ageless femininity.
The wellness effect of a stay at Amanoi, in a remote part of south-eastern Vietnam, begins before arrival.
With a mixed palette of traditional Chinese painting skills and avant-garde Western influences, octogenarian LIU KUO-SUNG, a leading force in modern ink art, reflects on his work with ANDREW DEMBINA.
STEPHEN MCCARTY discovers the dark side of jazz-era China.
Top of the Crops
It’s been a long time coming, but the health-food movement has finally hit Hong Kong’s fine-dining scene.
Delvaux’s Hong Kong flagship store has just opened its gilded doors in Central.
Two designers, two brands, two worlds. Creative directors Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia tell Alice Franklin why taking the reins at Oscar de la Renta made sense as Monse, their new brand on the block, continues to impress
The pandemic is quickly making some skills obsolete, but there are strategies for coping, a new survey shows
Pakistan sees a victorious Taliban in Afghanistan to the west and a partner in China to the East. But the U.S. is at odds with both, pushing leader Imran Khan into a delicate balancing act.
America Can't Ignore Afghanistan
Exclusive: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan says the Taliban can be a partner for peace, not a terrorist threat - if the U.S. stays engaged.
High Stakes On the Lake
Justin Bibb wants to be Cleveland’s next mayor. If he beats Kevin Kelley, he’ll inherit serious problems—and a windfall to fix them
Stuck on the Sidelines of The U.S. Job Market
Conversations with some of the 5 million out-of-work Americans shed light on why so many jobs are going begging
OFFSHORE WIND SUPPLY CHAIN WORTH $109B OVER 10 YEARS
A group studying the economics of offshore wind energy in the U.S. says building and operating the nascent industry will be worth $109 billion to businesses in its supply chain over the next 10 years.
US AUTO SALES SLUMP STALLED BY CAR COMPUTER CHIP SHORTAGE
In a normal month before the pandemic, Con Paulos’ Chevy dealership in Jerome, Idaho, sold around 40 new vehicles. In September, it was only six. Now he’s got nothing new in stock, and every car, truck or SUV on order has been sold.
CIA Creates Working Group on China as Threats Keep Rising
China is an especially difficult challenge for the U.S. intelligence community.
Get Into the Minds of Central Bankers as They Navigate Shocks
HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED how central bankers forecast the impact of shocks on the economy?
See Which Countries Are Falling Behind On Climate Change
UNDER THE PARIS AGREEMENT, 190 countries and the European Union pledged to take steps to hold the global temperature rise to less than 2C (3.6F) from preindustrial levels—and preferably 1.5C.