For the past three months, most of the internet world has been anxiously awaiting the return of the iconic 2000’s brand Baby Phat by model, mom, and mogul: Kimora Lee Simmons. The original announcement hit the world by storm with an at random post on Simmons’ Instagram, in honor of #InternationalWomensDay pictured below:
Shortly after, Baby Phat began to gain its first ever online presence. The company’s online website was established and its Instagram following grew.
From March onward, elaborate photo collages were plastered on Baby Phat’s Instagram showcasing some of the company’s most remembered looks and models. Icons such as the late Left Eye of the girl group TLC and rapper Lil’ Kim are a few of the main focal points featured on the page, highlighting everything from the classic Baby Phat printed logo tees to the extravagance in the combination of fur coats and Baby Phat bikinis.
Baby Phat as a brand originally embodied luxury, glamour, and sex appeal to women of color, who in the 90’s were specifically disenfranchised from those aspects of fashion. Those who lived through the Baby Phat era (myself included) have spent the last few months imagining what magic Kimora was cooking up with this relaunch.
There was nothing more that I as a consumer wanted then to relive an era that I was too young to completely dive into. As a child, I had the classic Baby Phat tees or jeans to throw on with my Pelle Pelle coat and Reeboks, but unfortunately by the time I was old enough to even entertain the idea of “sex appeal” through clothing, Baby Phat was long gone.
However, as an avid lover of vintage fashion and a thrifter, I scoured my local thrift stores endlessly for my childhood brands (specifically Baby Phat) that I longed for an experience in. I bring this all up to note that if anyone was beyond ready for this relaunch, it was me.
When I caught onto the fact that the relaunch was set to be done through Forever 21 I was underwhelmed to say the least as Forever 21 is known for its affordable (cheaply made) products along with comical collaborations with brands like Flaming Hot Cheetos.
Nothing that, the #f21xBabyPhat release itself completely dropped the ball, as I expected. What was amped up by the Baby Phat instagram to potentially be a nostalgic, throwback line is a mere set of graphic tees, tops, and biker shorts.
Now, it is understandable that Kimora may have been trying to save the risk factor in this relaunch by:
1) Collaborating with a bigger more financially stable company/brand
2) Working with a brand that produces fast fashion via sweatshops at a cheap costs
3)Attempting to obtain a younger demographic onto the brand to increase the likelihood of brand loyalty
But the gag is, while in a business sense this may have made complete sense, it has had an adverse effect on the many consumers like myself who were eager to see Baby Phat in its prime, not what is already mass produced by brands like Fashion Nova, Pretty Little Thing, and Boo Hoo.
While I have yet to go to a Forever 21 to judge the quality of the clothing and its wearability, I am not excited to do so. This collection was completely overhyped and the buildup has disappointed me in full.
This is exactly what I feared and addressed in this article, that focused on the relaunch’s potential for success. Now that Baby Phat is up and running, I can only hope that Simmons and her team bring it up from here. Because right now, it's a no from me.