A Definitive Ranking Of Clothing Lines Started By Rappers

On Saturday at MADE L.A., rapper Tyler, the Creator’s fashion line, Golf Wang, made its runway debut — and it was the flowery, skate-kid-inspired presentation you wish your high school crush had worn. The word “golf” was emblazoned across bold, neon-colored items, from footballs and classic hoodies to bathrobes and denim jackets. Inspired by his childhood (“Growing up as an inner-city Black kid, I wasn’t the most masculine. I wasn’t into sports. I liked pink and shit,” he told the audience), the 25-year-old’s design aesthetic moved past Odd Future’s (R.I.P.) doughnut-covered socks and shirts, focusing on a more streamlined collection that was half-reminiscent of ‘90s Nickelodeon, and half unsurprisingly in-tune with the industry’s latest obsession with pared-back streetwear.

Beyond the debut of his new song, “My Ego,” and a special front-row appearance by Kanye West and Kendall Jenner, the most exciting part of the evening may have been the announcement of the Golf Le Fleur, Tyler’s first sneaker design: a white kick decorated with flowers (available in multiple colorways), launching at the end of the year. Pulling an Oprah, he closed out the runway show/mini-concert by telling the audience: “By August, September, October, November, December...you’ll get a shoe, you’ll get a shoe, you’ll get a shoe! You all get a shoe!”

But before Golf Wang — and even before Yeezy — there was Wu Wear, Rocawear, Sean John, and an array of other clothing labels that helped turn rappers into global brands (and it’s no surprise, considering how intertwined personal style and music have always been). Below, we’ve compiled some of the greatest (and worst) fashion companies started by hip-hop’s finest.
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images.
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1. Golf Wang; Tyler, the Creator (2016-present)

On a runway-slash-skate ramp surrounded by flowers, Tyler, the Creator presented his loud line of streetwear. The collection and show perfectly echoed his eccentric and unconventional sense of humor, meaning if you’re not into lightly-colored “golf” separates, you can always snag a skate deck or a pair of smiley-face dice.

2. Yeezy, Kanye West (2013-present)

Kanye West’s movement in the fashion industry was inevitable, from his first launch of Pastelle Clothing in 2005 to his runway collection of womenswear in 2012. A shoe collaboration with Adidas was what ultimately launched his design career and West's muted offering for Yeezy Season 1 was a hit. Last season, West held an extravagant listening party-cum-fashion show at Madison Square Garden, where he hosted thousands of fans for the debut of Yeezy Season 2, and his new album, The Life of Pablo.

3. Billionaire Boy’s Club, Pharrell (2005-present)

Exactly what you would expect from Pharrell uniting with Nigo (founder of Bape). From the start, the clothing line was exclusively manufactured in Japan, which resulted in high-quality construction and limited quantities. The pieces are thoughtful and easy to wear with anything.

4. Rocawear, Jay Z (1999-present)

In the past, Rocawear has received some criticism, but Jay Z has always been a pro at getting that dirt off his shoulder. Hov’s brand includes watches, footwear, and more, though the highlight is definitely the cable-knit matching set you never knew you needed.

5. Benjamin Bixby, Andre 3000 (2008; currently on hiatus)

An outlier from the usual streetwear hip-hop brands, Andre 3000's whimsical line accurately reflects the singers eclectic style, with quirky polka dotted bow ties and plaid blazers. The combination of dandyism and his affinity for the '70s makes for a nostalgic brand that would make Beau Brummell proud.

6. Sean John, Sean Combs (1999-present)

Diddy's Sean John line won him a CFDA Award in 2004 for Menswear Designer of the Year. The innovative R & B rapper was also the first to utilize social media by broadcasting his show on Instagram and Twitter in 2013. His collections focus on well-cut suits, classy leisure pieces, and all-white ensembles you wish you could wear to one of his famous white parties.

7. Wu Wear, Wu Tang (1995-present)

One of the original pioneers of streetwear, Wu Wear is now a rare vintage find. Today, it's a Europe-based online store that sells your usual graphic tees and hoodies, but way back when, the brand was a stylish and creative hit with printed windbreakers and kung fu-inspired goods. BRB, searching every vintage store and eBay for a Shaolin tee or Hawaiian shirt.

8. G-Unit, 50 Cent (2003-2009)

50 Cent’s clothing label was created with Marc Ecko, but ultimately failed after the pair had a rocky on-and-off partnership. In most of his music videos, the rapper and his #squad can be seen in head-to-toe G-Unit (you know, in the club, goin' down).

9. Shady Ltd., Eminem (2003-present)

Slim Shady’s clothing line includes the typical jerseys and tees, but even better are the button-up plaid shirts and polos (which we swear he wore multiple times in 8 Mile). We’re still searching for the sold-out Shady Ltd. “Mom’s Spaghetti” tee that debuted this Mother’s Day, though. Talk about a classic.

10. Play Cloths, Pusha T (2008-present)

Pusha T’s creative venture covers all the classic streetwear categories. The brand's graphic tees advertise the brand with “Play” printed across the front and snapbacks with the brand’s logo, a running man. Many of the prints are similar to a Le Corbusier painting, which begs the question: Is Pusha T a low-key cubism fan or was this unintentional?

11. Rich & Infamous, Snoop Dogg (2008-2010)

Is there anything Snoop Dogg hasn’t dipped his toes in? From being a part-owner of Reddit to starting his own cannabis lifestyle website, Merry Jane, he also created his own clothing line. Snoop worked extensively with Christian Audigier (yes, of Ed Hardy fame) on the pieces. Although we love Snoop Dogg, we considering ourselves — and everyone else — lucky that this brand closed its doors only two years after conception.

12. Vokal & Apple Bottom Jeans, Nelly (2001-present)

Started by Nelly and his cousin, Yomi Martin, Vokal, which mainly consisted of jerseys with the brand's name embroidered on them, was first sold at nightclubs in Missouri. The duo later started the denim brand Apple Bottom Jeans (sing it: "boots with the fur"), which was largely successful after a tont of lyrical references.

13. Last Kings, Tyga (2011-present)

Tyga’s clothing label is a nod to vintage Tommy Hilfiger and Polo Ralph Lauren. Last Kings has a '90s skater-kid aesthetic that leans towards a more simple, refined look. The denim shirts and light-blue windbreakers are good enough to snag.

14. Shago, Bow Wow (2003-2006)

Inspired by Diddy's Sean John, Bow Wow started his own clothing brand for lil' boys; it had three collections: Classic, Knight, and Racing. Like when he dropped the "lil'" from his name, Bow Wow's clothing line suffered a similar fate.

15. Bushi Sport, Busta Rhymes (1999-2000)

Unfortunately for Busta Rhymes, the leather vest-and-fedora look never really took off. Not gonna lie, we almost miss the collection's puffer jackets and long coats. #RIP.

16. Todd Smith, LL Cool J (2006-2009)

LL Cool J’s brand made a strange transition from a menswear presentation in 2006 inspired by Zegna and Chloé to a clothing line seemingly inspired by Ed Hardy (again?). It became incredibly clear that he wouldn’t be the next Sean John after releasing a line of tattoo-embellished leather jackets and hoodies. Le sigh.
17. Aura Gold, Big Sean (2013-2014)

Aura Gold covers all of the streetwear basics, like a bomber jacket and graphic tees decked in the brand's logo (which happens to be a lion's head). Unfortunately, if a giant gold lion chain is what you’ve been searching for, you've missed your opportunity.

18. Akoo & Hustle Gang, TI (2008-present)

Akoo, standing for A King of Oneself, was started by T.I. and features the usual graphic tees and jerseys with a slight twist. Almost any combination of trendy clothing can be found at Akoo, meaning you can have whatever you like. Because who doesn’t need another denim jacket-hoodie hybrid or paint-splatter, zip-pocket, knee-pad jeans?

19. Trukfit, Lil Wayne (2012-present)

What started as a parody of streetwear, Trukfit has rebranded itself to be a lifestyle brand focused on thoughtful design. Quilted slightly drop-crotched pants and neoprene hoodies are just a few updates. We're interested to see what's next.

20. DMX Authentic, DMX (2006-2007)

DMX was at his prime in the late '90s, which would have been the ideal time to launch his own line. But after a failed attempt at clothing for dogs, the brand eventually folded a year later. X did not give it to us this time.
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