Hip-hop fashion is a distinctive style of dress originating with African-American youth in The 5 Boroughs (New York City), and later influenced by the hip-hop scenes of Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, East Bay (San Francisco Bay Area), Detroit, and The Dirty South among others. But hip-hop fashion wouldn’t be the fashion known today without the helping hand of a man called “The Shiny Suit Man”.
The rise of hip-pop in the late-1990s, primarily the work of Sean “Diddy” Combs, known locally around New York at that time as the “Shiny Suit Man” brought elements such as loud, flashy PVC aviator inspired suits and platinum jewelry to the forefront of hip hop in an effort to add a new vivid dimension of color and flash to the videos produced as a marketing tool.
Combs, who started his own sean john clothing line, and clothing manufacturers such as Karl Kani and FUBU brought hip hop fashion to the mainstream, resulting in a multi-million dollar hip hop fashion industry. But who is Sean John Combs? And what was his contribution to the ever growing hip-hop fashion?
Sean John Combs
Sean John Combs, also known by his stage names such as Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, and now known as Diddy, is an American rapper, record producer, actor, dancer, entrepreneur, and men’s fashion designer. His popularity in the industry brought him three Grammy Awards and two MTV Video Music Awards.
Combs was also the founder of the every growing recording company, Bad Boy Records that produced famous hip-hop artists and personalities including The Notorious B.I.G, Craig Mack, Dream, Carl Thomas, Faith Evans, Father MC, 112 and Total. As well as producing for Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, Usher, Lil’ Kim, TLC, Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men, SWV, Aretha Franklin, and others, and forming The Hitmen, an in-house production team.
In 1997, Combs recorded his first commercial vocal as a rapper under the name “Puff Daddy.” His debut single, “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” spent six weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. His debut album, No Way Out was a #1 album and won the 1998 Grammy Award for best rap album.
In 2002, he was featured on Fortune magazine’s “40 Richest People Under 40” list and was placed number one in the list of the top ten richest people in hip-hop.
Business Ventures and Sean John
His business interests under the umbrella of Bad Boy Entertainment Worldwide include Bad Boy Records, the clothing lines sean john and Sean by Sean Combs, a movie production company, and two restaurants.
In 1998, Combs started a clothing line, sean john. It was nominated for the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Award for Menswear Designer of the Year in 2000, and another in 2004. Sean John is a clothing founded by hip-hop mogul Sean John Combs in which the name was taken from Combs’ first and middle given names.
Part of what made sean john clothing popular in the streets of the urban community is the people that represents the brand. These people includes rappers such as T.I., Fabolous, The Game, Daddy Yankee, basketball stars including Dwayne Wade and Tristan Sooklal, plus models Tyson Beckford and Kevin Navayne, and Combs himself.
“I always had the idea that I would start my own apparel line, but I wanted to make sure the timing was right and that I had the time to devote to it,” said Combs in an interview. Since its launch, Sean John has recieved critical and commercial success. Through the support of both the fashion community and retailers, sean john has quickly grown from an urban label to an international brand.
Sean John has often appeared at the award ceremony for the Council of Fashion Designers of America held annually in New York. For five consecutive years since 2000, Sean John has been nominated for its excellence in design. In 2004, Sean John was awarded the CFDA Men’s Designer of the Year award.
In November 2008, Combs launched his latest men’s perfume under the Sean John brand called “I Am King.” On November 24th, 2008, he unveiled a new Times Square billboard for the “I Am King,” line to replace his iconic Sean John ad. The giant billboard is currently the largest print ad in Times Square.
In addition to his clothing line, Combs owns an upscale restaurant chain called Justin’s, named after his son. The current restaurant is in Atlanta; the original New York location was closed in September 2007. Combs is also the designer of the green Dallas Mavericks alternate jersey.
Controversies Within the Sean John
The clothing line became controversial in 2003 when it was discovered that factories producing the clothing in Honduras were violating Honduran labor law. Among the accusations put forth were that workers were subjected to body searches and paid sweatshop wages. Charles Kernaghan of the National Labor Committee, who first exposed the factory, is quoted in the New York Times as saying, “Sean Puff Daddy obviously has a lot of clout, he can literally do a lot overnight to help these workers.”
In late 2006, MSNBC reported, “Macy’s has pulled from its shelves and its Web site two styles of Sean John hooded jackets, originally advertised as featuring faux fur, after an investigation by the nation’s largest animal protection organization concluded that the garments were actually made from an animal called a “raccoon dog”.
Combs said he had been unaware of the material, but as soon as he knew about it, he had his clothing line stop using the material. In 2008 he appeared in a Macy’s commercial.