Hip-hop and fashion have always been linked. Back when hip-hop was just developing, before it had a name even, the earliest practitioners of the emerging culture were already marking themselves as part of the movement by appropriating clothing styles and making them their own. What DJs did with their parents' turntables was the same thing that hip-hoppers did with Kangols and lace-less Adidas Superstars: create something unique out of what was already around.
Nowadays, hip-hop fashion is another beast altogether. Hip-hop apparel is a multi-billion-dollar industry populated with hip-hop specific brands like LRG, Rocawear and Sean John. Folks like me spend hundreds of dollars a year on Nikes and Jordans to keep our feet looking and feeling fresh.
From its inception, hip-hop has been and remains a brand-driven movement, especially on the fashion front. In the Jackson area, we have a handful of options when it comes to getting fresh gear. Swell-o-Phonic (2906 N. State St., 601-981-FLIP) has a coveted Nike SB account. Several stores stay stocked on the newest sneaker releases, as well as the more popular hip-hop apparel lines. However, we do not have a store that offers specialty and classic sneakers plus the more obscure clothing lines.
DeMarcus Donquez Price is hoping to change all of that early in 2012 when he opens Cortez Kicks and Cuts in Clinton. "I want to bring something to Mississippi that we have never had before," he says.
Price, 28, will offer apparel lines from sneaker boutique favorites like The Hundreds, Neff and 10 Deep, as well as new releases and retros from Jordan, Nike, Reebok, Asics, Adidas, and many more.
The store will be a sneaker head's dream. Personally, I had a hard time not breaking open a display case to jack an original pair of Andre Agassi Nike Air Tech Challenge II's and a pristine pair of the De La Soul Nike SB Dunk High Pros. This store is going to wreak havoc on my budget.
The retail game is nothing new to Price. He devoted most of his working life to managing hat and sneaker stores. To fund his new venture, Price, who is originally from Jackson but spent most of his life in Clinton, didn't go to a bank. Instead, he went to his closet, selling off some of his "800 or 900" pairs of shoes, bringing the collection down to about 200 pairs, to finance the opening of the shop.
"The whole thing is literally built on sneakers," he says.
What will set Cortez apart even further from the competition is Price's vision of the store being an epicenter of not only sneaker and fashion culture, but also of hip-hop culture. "We want to merge the cultures at a local level and produce something tangible for the whole state," he says.
Price will do that by holding clinics for aspiring sneaker collectors and DJs, and hosting release parties and signing events for local hip-hop artists. Jackson's DJ Young Venom will spin records at the shop on the weekends and is finishing a mixtape featuring new tracks from local hip-hop favorites like Coke Bumaye, Skipp Coon and 5th Child to help promote Price's shop.
The Jackson area has not had a true boutique shop that reflects the sneaker culture in the city, nor a center where music, fashion and culture intersect. "I just think it's important for us to put our stamp on the state," Price says.
And on my wallet.
Cortez Kicks and Cuts will open in January 2012 at 400 Cynthia St. in Clinton. In addition to being a fashion boutique, Cortez will also house a full-service barbershop and salon. Visit facebook.com/CortezkicksandCuts for information.