The Best Baby Phat Fashion Moments of All Time, Ahead of the Relaunch

Twenty years after Baby Phat was introduced to the world by Kimora Lee Simmons Leissner, the streetwear brand is officially back. The model and mogul announced the return on International Women’s Day, revealing that she purchased it and has plans to relaunch it this summer. This news is thrilling to young women like me, who grew up wearing Baby Phat religiously. It wasn’t just my go-to line for puffers, hoodies, and jeans emblazoned with that iconic cat logo, although the clothes were stylish enough on their own. As a young woman who had to reconcile her deep love for hip hop culture with the misogyny present in music videos and rap songs, Baby Phat meant so much more to me.

At the time women’s streetwear brands were just feminized version of the men’s and their advertisements all seemed to cater to the male gaze, Baby Phat centered women. It was created and designed by a woman who was fiercely independent and strong, and she didn’t have any qualms about reminding you of that fact. Kimora Lee wasn’t just hip hop mogul Russell Simmons’ then-wife; she had a successful career as a supermodel before she even met him (modeling for the likes of Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel). And she was a sharp business woman with complete control over her empire. Sure Baby Phat started as an offshoot of Simmons’ brand Phat Farm, but it eventually became the most successful line under the Phat Fashions umbrella, growing into a billion-dollar enterprise.

Women’s empowerment was at the core of the Baby Phat brand ethos from the start. Ads depicted Kimora living the glamorous life, stepping off a reimagined version of the Air Force One, clad in a pink printed jacket and oversized black sunglasses. The men in that famed image cater to her, holding her pink handbag and carrying her luggage as she waves to an adoring crowd of fans. In the world of Baby Phat, Kimora is President.

After her famed runway shows — some of the only Fashion Week events I was invited to when I worked for a Black women’s magazine — she’d walk the catwalk with her 2 daughters in tow, showing us that you could be a mother and a boss, those roles aren’t mutually exclusive.

The new Baby Phat will continue that storied legacy. According to the brand’s press release, it will be “woman-owned, woman-led, and as always, designed by and for women.” Of course, that’s a selling point for many contemporary brands in today’s climate. The fashion industry has finally realized that it’s marketable to “uplift” the women you’re shelling products to. But Baby Phat is different. Kimora celebrated women when it wasn’t the industry standard. Her devotion to women was genuine when the brand was founded in 1999 — and now, with her daughters Ming, 19, and Aoki, 16, on board for the relaunch, that commitment will only deepen.

With its return just a couple months away, we’re looking back at 5 iconic Baby Phat moments that make us so excited for the relaunch.

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