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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
8/17/2003 6:17:41 AM

Tags and topics realted to this article include P. Diddy, Nelly, Jay-Z and Jennifer Lopez.

NEW YORK — Eve's got your back. So do Eminem, Beyoncé, 50 Cent and Nelly. They've got rest of your body covered, too.

They're just a few of the hip-hoppers who are infiltrating the fashion world with their own flashy clothing collections.

Of course, the upstarts will be facing stiff competition from Jennifer Lopez's established J. Lo line, P. Diddy's Sean John gear and Jay-Z's Rocawear garb.

But that's not stopping Mariah Carey — not exactly known for wearing a surplus of garments — who is in talks to develop an accessory and jewelry line called Automatic Princess.

"It's this whole new idea of selling a lifestyle and putting a face on fashion, where before it was driven by faceless designers," says Barbara Coulon, vice president of trends at a Gen-X and Gen-Y research company called Youth Intelligence. "Now, someone's face and life is connected to it, so if you love Jay-Z, you can listen to his music, eat at his restaurant and wear his clothes."

Stepping into Jay-Z's sneakers is St. Louis hip-hop star Nelly, who already has two multiplatinum albums and a men's clothing line, Vokal, to his name. Now the Grammy nominee invites the ladies to Nellyville with his hip-hugging Apple Bottoms collection. "Hopefully in due time, we can get in with the Baby Phats (Kimora Lee Simmons' line) and the Rocawears," he says. "We look up to these lines."

So does Eve, the Philadelphia-based rapper who favors attention-grabbing Roberto Cavalli and Dolce & Gabbana outfits. She hopes her fans will steal her look by donning the denim skirts and slinky tops that are part of her Fetish line, in stores in September. Being a designing woman, she explains, is "about expressing my individuality."

It's exactly why her duds will be a hit, predicts Seventeen fashion editor Gigi Solis Schanen.

"Kids see these musicians and want to be that person, because it's all about just being cool," says Schanen. "Eve and Beyoncé both have strong senses of style, and their clothes will be hot as long as they stay hot."

But in the capricious entertainment industry, stardom is fleeting, and today's trendy Beyoncé could very well be tomorrow's passé Debbie Gibson. And somewhat ironically, all those celeb lines might well be cannibalized by their namesakes' mass appeal.

"Right now, hip-hop style is the flavor of the month," cautions Marshal Cohen, chief analyst at the marketing research firm NPD Group.

"But now that hip-hop has hit suburbia, watch out. I guarantee you that teens in New York don't want to dress like some guy in a Midwestern cornfield."

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