This summer, Tyler the Creator took a pretty significant step in fashion; the rapper held his first-ever fashion show for his brand Golf Wang. The event was a bit of a stake in the sand, demonstrating how the venture wasn’t simply concert merchandise but instead was just one part of an expansive lifestyle. But even if it was a remarkable jump, the Los Angeles based presentation wasn’t unprecedented in the hip-hop arena.
Most neatly, hip hop’s relationship with the fashion industry in a mutually beneficial way can be traced back to Run DMC’s link up with Adidas. The group’s music video “My Adidas” featured dookie chains, tracksuits and shelltoe sneakers and eventually led to Run DMC’s own endorsement deal with the sportswear company. Adidas got the exposure, the influence to a hip-hop audience (but also took on this new, emerging idea of cool) while the rappers got the cold hard cash in the form of an unprecedented $1 million deal. But out of it sprouted a new market; “urban wear” and the consumers who buy it.
The fashion industry doesn’t really talk about urban wear anymore — it’s place in the industry has arguably been replaced by streetwear –but in the ’90s and early aughts, it was all the rave. In 2001, Sean John made waves when it produced a $1 million fashion show in New York replete with what some called the first nationally live televised fashion show. That was only three years into the founding of the company and was followed up a year later with another blowout show with a budget of $1.24 million. And it was needed: At the time, founder Sean Combs was elbowing his way into a market that already contained brands like Russell Simmons’ Phat Farm and Baby Phat which had been around since the early ’90s, and more.