Do you know about April Walker, the designer of the iconic fashion brand, Walker Wear and the official Godmother of Urban Fashion? Since the early '90s she has successfully combined hip hop and style and has had her hands in several key moments that helped catapult your favorite old school rappers as influencers before that was even a word. Her work has graced big screens, small screens and everything in between. Read on to find out more about the legendary fashion designer!
Walker Wear was founded around 1991, but Walker had already owned a custom shop in Brooklyn called Fashion In Effect after being inspired by Harlem designer Dapper Dan and Black high fashion designer Willi Smith of WillieWear.
In an industry notoriously dominated by males, Walker made her presence felt in fashion and music from coast to coast, outfitting a who's who of rappers, singers and entertainers. She's provided clothes for tours, album covers, videos and movies and created a fashion incubator for young creatives around her who went on to work for other urban brands like Mecca, Enyce and TWISM.
Walker was ahead of the game, making clean, custom pieces for new money rappers that wanted deeper front and back pockets and longer crotches in their jeans. Eventually she turned to design and then in the smartest move ever- decided to open a styling division to her clothing line and ended up dressing an allstar roster of hip hop artists.
Walker, along with Karl Kani was one of Tupac's favorite designers and provided the clothing for Above the Rim, the 1994 film that he starred in. She also helped design the mad face logo for the hardcore rap group Onyx and helped create their image, along with styling Naughty by Nature and helping them with their Naughty Wear clothing brand- which besides Wu Wear was one of the first and greatest merch lines to emerge from any hip hop artists.
You might have laughed when boxer Adrien Broner came out in his Fashion Nova sponsored shorts, but did you know that Walker styled boxing champ Mike Tyson in branded Walker Wear shorts in the ring? A bold, bossy and highly influential style decision because before that, only Everlast was being worn.
You basically cannot and SHOULD not talk about early hip hop clothing without discussing April Walker and her fashion brand Walker Wear! It is super important to celebrate women designers- especially Black women- in this industry because it is ten times as hard for them to get that recognition and the accolades that they deserve.
And yes, Walker Wear is definitely still around, relaunched in 2013 and sells custom, retro and new pieces online. You can follow them here on Instagram and see the feed which is rich with hip hop and fashion history. Have you ever heard of Walker Wear or remember seeing her work in the early '90s?
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