Fashion Discussion: What is Urban Fashion?

As you know, we typically classify The Fashion Bomb as an ‘urban’ style site, a word I used to denominate a spectrum of chic from a multicultural, though largely African-American perspective. Urban fashion meant a look that bounces to the beat of Hip-Hop and R&B, puts a unique twist on ready-to-wear, and mixes high and low fabulously.

Back in the 90’s, urban fashion was reserved for hip-hop and R&B artists who embraced streetwear brands as varied as Tommy Hilfiger and Karl Kani. Big logos were ubiquitous, as were copious instances of statement jewelry whether found in earrings or heavy gold rope chains.

Many nascent rap groups undoubtedly embraced FUBU and Cross Colours due to accessibility and their finger-on-the-pulse relevance. Later on many hip-hop insiders launched their own lines, with Wu Tang and Wu Wear, Russell and Kimora Lee Simmons with Phat Farm and Baby Phat, Nelly with Apple Bottoms, and more.

Though urban brands certainly enjoyed their moment, their popularity seems to be waning. Instead of Jay-Z wearing Rocawear, you’re most likely to see him in Givenchy. Though Beyonce is the face of House of Deréon (and is werqing it in their new ad!), we know the R&B and pop songstress truly has a soft spot for Balmain, Lanvin and Alexander McQueen. Nicki Minaj loves her Versace as much as Kim loves her Kanye West.

All that to say our ‘urban’ idols and hip-hop and R&B stars, much like hip-hop and R&B themselves, are more mainstream. And as far as this site goes, yes, we show love to Sean John and House of Dereon, but we also cover Louis Vuitton, Hermès, and Burberry.

So what does urban fashion mean to you in these evolving fashionable times? Does it mean anything? Or has urban fashion, like urban music, simply gone mainstream?

Main Images: Anais Mali, Cora Emmanuel, Rob Evans, Travone Hill and Chrishell Stubbs for V Magazine’s Music Issue.


Claire Sulmers is the publisher and founder of Fashion Bomb Daily, the #43 most influential style magazine in the world.

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