Suburban Hip-Hop

Discussion
May 18, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


It’s not unusual for entertainment and cultural trends to start in inner city neighborhoods and then expand to suburbia. So, the fact that everything hip-hop, from the music to clothing and accessories, would find a ready and willing-to-spend consumer base outside of city limits.


This is especially true in apparel where performers such as Sean “Diddy” Combs, Russell Simmons and Eminem have come out with clothing lines of their own.


Mr. Combs’ Sean John clothing and fragrance line is sold in stores including Nordstrom and Macy’s.


Today, teens and young adults are buying urban fashions to the tune of $2.2 billion a year, according to the NPD Group.


“There’s an awful lot of energy channeling the suburban guy and girl to want to be like what they see in music videos and movies,” Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at the NPD Group, told The Detroit News. “The market is not going away.”


Further evidence of the growing popularity and staying power of hip-hop fashion is Wal-Mart’s plan to roll out its Exsto line of urban apparel for men in 300 stores this summers.


The reason is simple, said Andy Barron, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s apparel for Wal-Mart. “With the addition of Exsto, we can better serve a distinct segment of our customer base by offering a true young men’s brand with a sense of urban flair. Exsto mirrors the design and quality of urban brands offered in department stores at the excellent value customers expect from Wal-Mart.” 


Moderator’s Comment: Will the apparel business fall as quickly as the music end of the business should younger consumers begin listening to other artists
and musical styles instead of hip-hop? What do you see as the do’s and don’ts of retailers looking to cash in on all things hip-hop?

George Anderson – Moderator

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9 Comments on "Suburban Hip-Hop"


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Mitch Kristofferson
Guest
Mitch Kristofferson
14 years 9 months ago

I couldn’t agree more with Don’s comments about the value of science here. I believe it is very difficult for science to predict new trends – for that I think you need a talented team with their finger on the pulse of the market or consumer segment. Once a trend begins to be established, however, the art and science work well together and science adds significantly to a merchant’s ability to profit from that trend.

Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
14 years 9 months ago
From a process perspective, trend optimization should be a core competency of any fashion retailer. The common assumption is that optimizing trends is a function of talent. It is, and it is not. No single individual or group of individuals has been able to maintain anything like perfect alignment with trend over any appreciable period of time. Organizations, using processes, technology and leveraging skill sets, can and do stay pretty high up on the trend optimization curve. Some of the contributors have already pointed at variables which inevitably lead to trend behavior. The progress of a trend through the levels of retail show are predictable and almost unvarying. Trend participation at the consumer level can be segmented. Early adopters do not maintain trend participation when late adopters are brought in. Sources of new trends, with the exception of the high risk – high return manufacturers actually trying to create trends, can be identified, valued (in terms of the probable lifecycle pattern of the trend) and then acted upon. This can and should have a very… Read more »
Len Lewis
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Len Lewis
14 years 9 months ago

Not sure I wholly agree with Ryan. There’s a lot of art in the apparel/fashion business. The business is to make it as cheaply as possible.

Of course, I’m only an old guy and no one cares about my take on hip-hop or urban culture. However, I know that fashions change in a heartbeat. If you get stuck with inventory no one wants, the heartbeat turns to heartburn.

I would give the same advice to apparel retailers as to supermarkets who drooled at the low-carb craze — get into it, get into it early but don’t go overboard.

jared colautti
Guest
jared colautti
14 years 9 months ago

Yes it will fall, but who said anything about Hip-Hop losing ground? Since its inception in the early 80’s, it has done nothing but grow to a point that now sub-levels of Hip-Hop music and culture are being born. There’s gangsta rap, r&b, conscious hip hop, and candy rap, all with throngs of devoted fans wearing the associated fashions. Hip-Hop is not going anywhere any time soon, and the 2.2 billion dollar price tag associated with it is just the beginning.

The real question is whether retailers like Wal-Mart will kill the authenticity of the movement with what will probably be painfully contrived versions of urban wear.

Bob Bridwell
Guest
Bob Bridwell
14 years 9 months ago

What can W-M and others do to ruin it? Baseball caps and over-sized pants and boxer shorts makes for a pretty simple ensemble. Not much to ruin. Well I guess they could sell it for less…does that ruin it for the Phat people?

As to the music, well, unless it is family-friendly W-M isn’t going to carry it.

Karen McNeely
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

I’m with Jared. Anytime hip hits mainstream, it by necessity changes. If the trendiest people see knockoffs of themselves running around it is time to update. You don’t get any more mainstream than Wal-Mart.

I’m not exactly a part of the hip-hop crowd, but it is the rock and roll of current generation. I’m sure those who don’t understand it also had parents that told them to cut their hair and turn down Janis, Jimmy, Kiss or??? It likely won’t go away for that generation, but the upcoming generation is possibly due for a new genre. Us fogies are likely to appreciate it even less than hip-hop!

Ryan Mathews
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

Of course. After all, to paraphrase The Godfather, “This isn’t art, it’s just business.”

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

Hip-hop hit the suburbs years ago, so it’s odd to brag about discovering it now. It will last until the next Big Thing comes along, and then it will die a horrible death, leaving the complacent with huge markdowns.

Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
14 years 9 months ago

One may think Hip-Hop started in inner city. But, it is a concurrent growth and anchor of a lifestyle that also blossomed in the suburbs, too! Hmmmmmmmm

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