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STYLE AND CULTURE

CULT BRAND: KARL KANI

By Steven Potter, 11 July 2019

With ‘throwback’ becoming synonymous with ‘must cop’ for the foreseeable, it’s no surprise we’re all looking backwards for our 2019 ‘fits. In terms of comebacks, the one that’s got us most excited here at ASOS is the return of Karl Kani. Widely known as the godfather of urban streetwear, we thought we’d take a look at the brand’s storied beginnings in the wake of a new drop right here on ASOS.
A picture of a denim shirt and shorts co-ord by Karl Kani. Available at ASOS.

Obsessed with looking fresh from the age of 12, Karl Williams first conceived of Karl Kani at just 16. Initially on the hunt for looks that separated him from the crowd, and taking a cue from his father's love of sharp smartwear, Karl got a suit tailored to the spec he wanted. With his unique look came interest from friends, so he learnt to take measurements, made 20 suits for his crew, and – after one of them suggested he stick his name on the pieces – Karl Kani was born.
A picture of Tupac Shakur wearing a Karl Kani T-shirt.

The brand made significant leaps forward after a move to LA. 90s Hip-hop had carved out its own niche way of dressing and fans were desperate for a brand to step in and fill the gap in the market. Realising this, Karl took to producing oversized logo tees, hoodies, puffers and more. It wasn't just his eye for street-ready cuts that set KK apart though, it was his desire to use rap musicians as walking advertisements for his gear in a climate where no other labels wanted to do the same. One of his most famous fans was Tupac Shakur, who started wearing Karl Kani threads even before he was asked to. High praise indeed.
A picture of a hoodie, shorts and a T-shirt by Karl Kani. Available at ASOS.

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The Kani brand made its name producing oversized tees, hoodies and outerwear in bright colours stamped with the iconic signature logo. And you know what? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Today’s range celebrates the label's roots by tapping into that same bright, logo-driven look. Cop a printed tee for a stripped-back look, or rock a co-ord for the full 90s experience.
Cult brand: Karl Kani

Alongside Tupac came more and more celeb endorsements. Major players in the 90s scene, including Biggie Smalls, Snoop Dogg, Aaliyah, Wu-Tang Clan and Dr Dre, all represented Karl Kani and helped propel the brand to global streetwear icon status alongside the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Polo Ralph Lauren. And, as with Tommy and Ralph, fashion's current obsession with all things 90s has seen Kani re-emerge as a serious player after a few years out of the limelight.
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