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Are Urban Brands Irrelevant?

Are Urban Brands Irrelevant?

If you’ve lived for a couple decades I am sure that you know that fashion trends are cyclical. Thus those stirrups you loved in the 80’s might make reappearance…or not. I am hoping for the latter, however what once was popular can always be revamped and made trendy for a new generation. Also, you probably know that the brands and stores that you grew up with, go through cycles and some actually die out.

Urban streetwear, is it a dying clothing segment? In the late 90’s and early 00’s there was a huge growth in urban clothing brands due to the mass commercialization of hip-hop. Hip-hop had a huge influence on fashion, as urban street-trends trickled up into the mainstream. However, brands like FUBU, Sean John and Rocawear all seem to now be a distant memory.All of the aforementioned brands are still making clothes. However, most of them seem to live in the farthest reaches of the department store i.e. Sean John or almost seemingly sold exclusively at discount retailers like Burlington’s.

Soulja Boy at 2007 BET Hip-Hop Awards

I mean absolutely no shade nor “T”, but perhaps these brands no longer comprehend the desires of their younger urban consumer. In order for any brand to have any sort of longevity they must study the market and adapt accordingly. I mean baggy jeans; oversized white t-shirts and jerseys could only last for so long. There has been a massive globalization of fashion and specifically Europe having a profound influence on the style and cuts of clothes. Brands now are so sensitive to trends and are expected to reproduce runway inspired styles within weeks.


Most urban brand failed to keep up the rapidly changing nature of the manufacturing business. Additionally, many urban brands failed to attract a younger generation to their product. As well as they did not grow along with their aging original customer base. Clothing is as much as a way to speak to your individual style or association within a subculture as it is a signifier of your station in life. Now…to the credit of Sean John, they have tried to reach their customer by creating a more sophisticated image. However, they were a little too late to the party. In the fierce fashion world you have to be ahead of the trend otherwise you are “out”. While it may be futile for brands like Rocawear and FUBU, all is not lost for urban wear. New urban brands are emerging fusing street-sensibilities with a global aesthetic. The new consumer is less focused on logos and branded merchandise , but switched the focus to more on details and overall styling.

Matiere Spring 2015
Matiere Spring 2015


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