Sean John and the Rap Artist as Deisgner

In 1999 Sean Combs launched a signature collection of sportswear under his given name, Sean John. Sean, aka “Diddy,” created his brand at the height of the rap streetwear trend. Sean John combined traditional aspects of menswear tailoring with the trendier parts of streetwear. In 2000, Combs was nominated for a Council of Fashion Designers of America Award as menswear designer of the year. The nomination, which was uncommon for a designer after only a year in business, represented the equivalent of an Academy Award nomination. He would win the CFDA award for menswear in 2004. Sean John represented the elevation of streetwear brands to the upper echelons of the fashion industry. His success led to other artists beginning their own brands. Some examples include, Jay-Z’s Rocawear, Nelly’s Apple Bottom Jeans, and Wu-Tang Clan with Wu-Wear among others. Unfortunately, not all artists brands were well developed or of acceptable quality.

The proliferation of artists’ brands diluted the market for hip-hop driven fashion, and companies founded specifically to serve the hip-hop community lost their caché. Rap artists once again began defining their image through the wearing and name-dropping of established luxury brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton. There continues to be a cycle of rap artists signaling their success through the wearing/mentioning of couture brands and luxury manufacturers rather than community specific companies. It is possible that trends will eventually circle back to hip-hop specific brands, but only time will tell. Rihanna’s Fenty brand prove that it is possible.

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Sean John and the Rap Artist as Deisgner