Rappers with clothing labels
By Matt Ayres, 23 February 2015
They don’t let just anyone be a rapper, you know. To pull off a successful hip-hop career takes charisma, talent and unrelenting self-confidence. It’s also no coincidence that the most successful stars are regularly found bragging about their wardrobes, pushing their artistic vision beyond music and into the realms of fashion.
Starting a brand is the ultimate fashion statement, and these rappers have outdone themselves by launching clothing lines that epitomise their own fresh styles.
Pharrell Williams – Billionaire Boys Club
Pharrell’s been pulling off brave fashion choices since well before his infamous Vivienne Westwood Mountie hat. Notably, his ongoing collaboration with BAPE founder and Japanese music producer Nigo has spawned Billionaire Boys Club, a brand that specialises in fly graphic tees, statement sweaters and premium jeans. Its sister brand, Ice Cream, is also worth checking out for its fluorescent J-pop inspired designs.
Lupe Fiasco – Trilly & Truly
Many rappers boast about being ‘intellectual’ lyricists, but Lupe Fiasco’s eloquent flow is smarter than most. The Chicago hip-hop star expresses ideas through his fashion side-project with the same scholarly approach: the ‘Basic Info’ collection from Trilly & Truly was based on cultural constructs around peace, anarchy and history, represented by the silhouettes of Martin Luther King, Noam Chomsky and a defaced Adolf Hitler. Elsewhere Lupe’s high end ‘Overthrown Junta’ collection was all about classic American style, with its flagship camo-print biker jacket being a particular highlight.
Pusha T – Play Cloths
Remember the excitement of getting home from school, kicking off your plain black shoes and replacing them with your comfiest, coolest trainers? It’s this liberated feeling that Pusha T’s Play Cloths celebrates. The boutique brand offers a playful take on street style: clashing patterns and retro graphics feature on childhood staples like sports jerseys and sweatpants, stamping 21st century dopeness onto your favourite threads from yesteryear.
Jay-Z – Rocawear
Artists will fight to be crowned king of hip-hop until the end of time, but in terms of consistent success in the genre, it still sits snugly on Jay Z’s gifted bonce. The New York icon has reached the top of his game as both a rapper and a businessman, largely thanks to the clothing line he founded in 1999 with former manager Damon Dash. Rocawear apparel is chiefly influenced by the mean streets of NYC: no nonsense, neutral tones made vibrant with dynamically placed graphics and detailing.
Kanye West – A.P.C. Kanye, Kanye West x Adidas Originals
Not being one to follow his peers, the outspoken Mr West takes an alternative approach to menswear. Since emerging as a serious fashion player with his coveted Nike Air Yeezys in 2009, Kanye has sought out opportunities to work with established brands to channel his vision. This has taken the form of a collaboration with French brand A.P.C. – the AW14 line includes his take on understated classics such as oversized sweaters, army parkas and super-soft plain white tees. It’s less hip-hop, more timelessly hip.
And then there’s his newly unveiled partnership with Adidas – all flesh-coloured body stockings and utilitarian outerwear in drab blacks and dark greens. Yeezy’s signature garms aren’t your basic branded streetwear, but what else would you expect from the man who defines himself as 'the number one rock star on the planet'?