The 90's. What a time to be alive. In a time where nostalgia is still at an all time high, the 90's is one particular era that has proven itself as more than a fad, but a period of time that is going to continue to influence Millennials and Gen Z for a long time to come.
Amidst the innovations that are still being made in fashion today, elements of 90's style are just as prevalent as they were during their namesake. Beyond the trends, many of the fashion houses that defined the era have returned to us, and I have compiled a list of four black owned brands that we can contribute to ,as they contribute to our closets, today.
1. Karl Kani
Karl Kani took a humble business that he began from the trunk of his car to the heights of being named one of the most profitable businesses of the decade by Black Enterprise. Worn by the likes of Aaliyah, Tupac, and Biggie, Kani pioneered this unique street wear brand to unexpected heights. Unfortunately, changing consumer demands and betrayl led to the demise of the company during the onslaught of the early 2000s.
The 2010s, however brought on an unforseen demand for 90's throwback culture, and Kani once again stepped up to the plate. His clothes began being featured in the NWA and Tupac Biopics, and eventually landed a collaboration with the popular fast fashion brand Pretty Little Thing. This new collab line was modeled by the likes of Teyana Taylor and her husband Iman Shupert. Now Kani is officially back and better than ever before, and you can find his clothing at www.karlkani.com.
2. Cross Colours
A perfect segway, during the 90s, to build his precscence in the industry, Kani partnered up with another streetwear brand that made a colorful splash back in the day; Cross Colours. Founded by Carl Jones and TJ Walker in 1989, they wanted to take Urban Streetwear and give it a positive message. After many sketches, masterful color blocking, and swatch of Kinte cloth later, the partners would put together Cross Colours. After their big debut on "Yo! MTY Raps" the clothing brand seemingly skyrocketed overnight.
The brand was worn by major players in hip hop such as Will Smith and TLC. However, as the supply of the clothing grew, its' consumer demand did not follow, and thus it's value. Its' oversaturation on the market led to the elongated break the brand would endure for over ten years. But in 2014, CC returned with their iconic logo and design niches, as the market pivoted back to 90s fashion. And the demand was something serious. You can find their classic designs and newest ones at www.crosscolours.com.
3. Forty Acres and a Mule
From the man that brought you :"Do the Right Thing", "School Daze", and "Malcolm X" it was only befitting that visionary Spike Lee introduce a clothing brand named after our reparations. After graduating from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts for film, Lee began making movies that, in due time, would become cinematic classics. Named after his production studios, 40 Acres became a clothing brand to continue promoting Lee's film making by donning the same iconic emblem via the designs of the clothing.
It was a hit, garnering brand deals with companies such as Lay's and Nike for Super Bowl commercials, and the release of a Jordan sneaker collab. But alas, by the early 2000s, circulation of the clothing had ceased, as the studio production kept going strong. But thankfully, circa 2016, the brand had an online re-awakening with the release of t-shirts, hats, buttons, and other gear that the culture has tremendously missed. Fingers crossed they'll bring back the iconic Malcolm X baseball jerseys, but during the wait you can shop their store at www.40acres.com.
4. African American College Alliance Clothing
Last and certainly not least the African American College Alliance. In '91, at the helm of hip hop glory, AACA came onto the scene with a strong message that knowledge is truly power. Their hoodies, joggers, and t shirts all paid homage to the historical Black colleges and universities across the nation. Worn by the likes of Queen Latifah, Will Smith, SWV, Martin Lawrence, and Snoop Dogg, just to name a few, AACA was able to send a powerful and positive message about higher education.
And thanks to the costume designers of shows such as "Martin" and "Living Single", the clothing became a regular staple in daytime television as well, making education for young African-Americans look cool. However, it's fire did sizzle out with the Princess-Zenita is an aspiring writer and lover of fashion, nature, African-American literature, TV, books and movies. When she's not writing for DDS you can find more of her adventures on her personal blog The Princess is Pauping.changing of the times with the 2000s around the corner.
And as times changed yet again, AACA CEO Chris Latimer saw a new oppurtunity in the market and lunged at it. After a successful kickstarter campaign in 2016, AACA re-took it's rightful place as the cool brand with a purpose. And with the help of newer hip hop forces such as Big Sean, the brand regained its' popularity and demand. You can go rep an HBCU today by visiting www.aacaclothing.com.
I hope I was able to bring back some memories for some, and introduce these brands for others. These brands are so important to the culture, and with our support can have the staying power of being classic brands that won't be leaving us again.
Princess-Zenita is an aspiring writer and lover of fashion, nature, African-American literature, TV, books and movies. When she's not writing for DDS you can find more of her adventures on her personal blog The Princess is Pauping.