They’re fabulous, notorious, larger-than-life and styled to the hilt. They’re the hip-hop impresarios and lady rappers whose every move is emulated, especially when it comes to fashion. The $6 billion urban market can’t seem to get enough of what Jay-Z and J.Lo are singing — and wearing. Filling a specialty niche, urban stores sell streetwear brands to the young consumers who subsist on a steady diet of BET, MTV and VH1. While the retailers may have started on the gritty streets, they’re now found in suburban malls.
1) UNDERGROUND STATION Number of stores: 132 Underground Station is the fast-growing division of Genesco, the large footwear company that owns Johnston & Murphy, Jarman and Docker’s. The chain targets 20- to 35-year-old men and women with shoes from Timberland, Tommy Hilfiger, Diesel and Steve Madden. Fashion includes Baby Phat, Rocawear Jr. and licensed team apparel. Jeans with collages made up of team logos are among the hottest items for fall. Men’s wear accounts for 85 percent of sales and footwear is a large part of the business, but apparel and accessories are growing.
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