The practice of rap calling out fashion brands certainly isn't new: In the '80s, Run DMC called out "My Adidas", and the '90s saw numerous references to Timberlands, but these were indicators of street cred, not net worth. When the millennium rolled around, rappers seriously increased their fashion repertoire — not just for social validation, but as proof of affluence and access. Says Freer, "Rappers started lavishing cash on name brand, luxury fashion. Suddenly an entirely new segment of the population became luxury goods consumers." She then adds, "The intersection of fashion and hip-hop was the biggest style story of the aughts. I worked on a dozen Roc-A-Fella music videos from 2003-2007, and have the Rocawear velour track suits to prove it."
Streetwear became casualwear and casualwear became ubiquitous. A hoodie, loose-fitting jeans, and hoop earrings seemed to span races, cultural identifiers, income, and location, and suddenly, being "label-fluent" was a sign of caché. "There was an entirely new segment of the population that became luxury goods consumers. Magazine editors were no longer the only fashion know-it-alls," Freer remarks.
Yet, the pinnacle of luxury for the masses kicked off in 2002, with the newest iteration of the bridge line: the designer collab. And that concept is still going strong in 2013. When Isaac Mizrahi launched for Target in '02, we witnessed the first such collaboration. Then came Pierre Hardy for Gap, Proenza for Target, Karl Lagerfeld for H&M, Jil Sander For Uniqlo, Rodarte for Target...the list goes on and on. Even indies like Prabal and Odin have teamed up with a Big Box by now. The logical next step in diffusion.