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Was Baby Phat Ahead of Its Time?

Ice Spice was born on Jan. 1, 2000, so it seems fitting that her personal style has often involved Y2K fashion. The rapper leaned heavily into the era at the Grammy Awards on Sunday, wearing custom Baby Phat. She arrived in a fur-lined denim jacket and a matching maxi skirt that trailed behind her as she walked the red carpet.

Baby Phat was started by Kimora Lee Simmons in 1999. The label, rooted in hip-hop culture, largely influenced women’s streetwear in the decade that followed. Baby Phat was worn by celebrities like Missy Elliott, Lil’ Kim and Jennifer Lopez and was beloved by women and girls of color for its celebration of Black identity and style. Its items were relatively affordable yet still had an aura of glamour.

But in its heyday Baby Phat never had a big presence on red carpets. The brand’s aesthetic — a mishmash of fitted denim, fur, oversize logos, chains and jewels that Ms. Simmons described as “ghetto fabulous” — was not exactly reflective of high fashion in the early 2000s.

Since then, though, streetwear and hip-hop have only become more influential at even the most rarefied houses. That was on display at this year’s Grammys, where Lil Durk, Peso Pluma and Beyoncé were among the stars who wore items designed by Pharrell Williams for Louis Vuitton.

Ms. Simmons developed Baby Phat as an expansion of Phat Farm, a brand owned by her ex-husband Russell Simmons, who sold both labels in 2004. Ms. Simmons, who left Baby Phat in 2010 only to buy it back almost 10 years later and install herself as chief executive, said that Ice Spice’s wearing the brand on a major red carpet was “a full circle moment” that would help Baby Phat finally get the recognition it deserves.

“We don’t always get our shine,” said Ms. Simmons, 48, who is Black and Asian. “But I do it for the culture — make no mistake.” She added that Baby Phat’s Grammys appearance 25 years after the brand’s founding was a testament to its enduring appeal.

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