Colorful high-top sneakers. Eye-catching stacked heels. Comfortable leggings and trendy accessories. Created by Vanessa and Angela Simmons, Pastrys carved out a significant place in hip-hop fashion in the 2000s.
The “brand born into hip hop royalty,” as described by Pastrys’ website, was founded in 2007. If you watched MTV’s “Run’s House”, you should remember the brand’s early beginnings.
Running for six seasons, the show followed the Simmons’ family and chronicled various projects and adventures. Angela and Vanessa quickly made teen entrepreneurship a trend with their debut “Cake Collection” and shared their love of fashion, desserts, and footwear with the world. The brand initially started as a sneaker line and later expanded to heels, clothing, and accessories.
During a 2020 interview with REVOLT TV, the sisters discussed founding the brand and what it meant to the fashion industry, “That was fashion and we started that,” Angela said. “There were no real sneakers like that at the time and we had our own lane.”
With the show as a catalyst – and the trendy colorful and playful designs – the line grew quickly and spread across the Internet. This was especially true amongst blogs – the place to find celebrity gossip and news in the early 2000s.
After the brand launched, posts displayed Pastrys’ fancy launch parties and trade show pop-ups and featured sightings of celebrities and fashionistas wearing or supporting the brand. Artists Keri Hilson and Trina have been known to rock Pastrys.
Angela and Vanessa were also seen rubbing elbows with popular models of the time like Tyson Beckford, hosting red carpets and TV shows wearing the brand, and attending New York Fashion Week (NYFW) and sitting in the front row of shows of trendy designers, like Betsey Johnson. Even Jay Z took notice of the line. He mentioned the brand and creators in his lyrics in his 2009 hit, “Empire State of Mind”, with Alicia Keys.
“I used to cop in Harlem–hola, my Dominicanos (Dimelo!). Right there up on Broadway, brought me back to that McDonald’s. Took it to my stash spot, 560 State Street. Catch me in the kitchen, like a Simmons whippin’ pastry.”
In that same year, the sisters expanded their original sneaker line to “Pastry VIP” offering heels and a more dressy style. The “fresh, fun, and feminine line” was available in a capsule collection with Macy’s. “The pieces are just so original and so outside the box of what anyone is doing,” Vanessa told PEOPLE about the collection at the time. The shoes were perfect with jeans or short skirts.
While the brand experienced initial distribution issues, Pastrys has become an international success. Vanessa Simmons is the brand’s Creative Director and Pastrys has found a new market in the dance and youth industries. The Pastry brand’s Instagram page features some of the world’s top dance teams in their shoes and clothing and highlights partnerships with organizations like the Steven Tyler’s Janie’s Fund supporting abused girls.
The popularity of the line – and the fact that the brand continues to grow while remaining true to its founding – represents a significant part of hip hop fashion history and the influential role of women and girls. While hip hop had been recognized as a genre of American music since the 1970s and rose in popularity in the 80s and 90s, it wasn’t until the 2000s that it became mainstream. What then followed was hip hop’s impact on greater American culture and, in turn, style and fashion.
The market exploded with lines created and inspired by the genre and its standout artists. Streetwear flooded department stores.
Hip-hop fashion emerged as such a trend that Sean Puffy Combs was named CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year in 2004. Awarded for his popular line, Sean John, Puffy beat out household names like Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors to take one of the nation’s top fashion prizes that year.
What was missing from this movement, however, was the voice, presence, and recognized contributions of Black women. Angela and Vanessa, along with other creators like Kimora Lee Simmons of Baby Phat and Beyonce and her mother, Tina Lawson, of House of Dereon, stepped in to fill that void.
”Even when we started Pastry … Obviously sneakers were the main thing, but we’re always meant to be an aspirational brand,” Vanessa told REVOLT TV in 2020. “We want to empower the next generation of people coming up.”
There are several articles that discuss hip-hop fashion and the impact of streetwear on American style and trend. Women creators are often omitted or mentioned as an afterthought. This needs to change.
We can’t talk about the success of Ivy Park, Skims, or Lizzo’s recently launched Litty without mentioning Pastrys. The brand – and its creators Angela and Vanessa Simmons – need to be given their roses now. Not only for their lasting contributions to the hip-hop fashion world but for charting a path for other women creators.
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A Look Back At The Impact Of Pastrys On 2000s Hip-Hop Fashion was originally published on hellobeautiful.com