Top 10 Urban Brands That Should Make a Comeback

Words by Mzo Gcwabe

Nostalgia was first coined by Johannes Hofer in the 1680s as a diagnosis for the painful longing for “home” experienced by soldiers that spent an extended time out in the field. For many of us today nostalgia is less of a deep yarning to return home but a powerful need to go back to a certain period in time.

The inexplicable power that Nostalgia has over us has placed iconic brands that once dominated the 90s and early 2000s in a unique position to make their much-anticipated comebacks.

2017 might be year we finally see less well-made replicas of old favourites but rather the resurgence of the brands that made them popular, eliminating the need to thrift shop. Below is a list of 10 urban brands that we think should make an earnest comeback and dominate urban culture once again. These brands are not necessarily dead but they could do with an urban revival of sorts.

Welcome to the nostalgia-fueled Retro Boom.


The brain-child of Shark Tank investor and Queen’s New York native Daymond John, FUBU’s pro-black message made it easy for New York rappers like Method Man to embrace it. It was actually LL Cool J’s well-timed guerilla marketing stunt that catapulted FUBU into meteoric success when the rapper wore a FUBU hat on a commercial for GAP and managed to sneak in the lyric “For Us Buy Us” in the monologue.

That stunt, plus the brand’s design and distribution prowess, helped make Fubu a $350 million company at its peak and cemented their place in urban culture history. Solange is the latest artist to pay homage to their legacy, reminiscing about Daymond’s John mission statement in her song named after the brand F.U.B.U.



Nautica was wavy before wavy was a thing. The maritime themed brand embodied the spirit of 90’s and captured our imaginations with their fun use of colour and outlandish windbreakers, patchwork shirts and swim shorts. For thrifters finding a Nautica piece in their local 2nd hand store is like catching a rare water pokemon like Lapras.

After the brand’s founder David Chu sold the company in 2003, Nautica lost its essence and has since struggled to reclaim its glow, until now. In an effort to return to their colorful past Nautica has appointed Lil’ Yachty as a Creative Director and their line together has already started making waves.



Pelle Pelle’s importance to the culture cannot be overstated, especially when you consider the fact that the brand was launched in 1978, the year that hip hop was born. Pelle Pelle brought their connection to hip hop full circle when they designed jackets for the induction of the Furious Five and Grand Master Flash into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.

As one of the first brands to introduce the extra baggy jeans, Pelle Pelle’s style resonated with consumers and rappers alike. Even Kanye West in his song “Last Call”, counts the brand as part of his 90’s wardrobe.. “Get a Pelle Pelle off layaway, get some Jordans or something…that’s what we wore back then.”



In the 2000’s Evisu Jeans swept through America with the help of rap royalty like Jay Z, Jezzy and TI. Their seagull insignia on the back pockets of rap’s elite featured in many music videos that came out at a time when hip hop looked towards Japan for quality garments and style cues.

With the return of logo prints on denim its almost the perfect moment in time for Evisu’s comeback.



Ralph Lauren has never left and does not need a comeback, we are the ones that need something from the fashion god. We need Polo Sport, the retro polo sport, the 1993, Wu-Tang “Can It Be All So Simple” Polo Sport.

The Polo Sport that had bold colours, bubble jackets, windbreakers and hearts of NY’s flyest. I can’t imagine the LO-Lifes gang wearing this new iteration on sale right now. If Polo Sport took FILA’s cue on how to make a comeback Raekwon would have never made his own SNOW BEACH jacket. Let’s pray the fashion gods are listening.



The longest surviving brand on this list, this Italian company (Now South Korean-owned) was started by the Fila Brothers in 1909 as an underwear line before it became a sportswear icon of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. The brand of choice for both tennis legend Bjorn Borg and Tony Soprano, FILA has been plotting its way back into our closets through strategic collabos with brands like PINK DOLPHIN, Gosha Rubchinskiy, JASON WU and Staple.

FILA’s strategy seems to be working because for the first time in a while the sportswear brand’s apparel will be be on sale in South Africa as soon as next month.



JUICY Couture was the tracksuit brand of choice in the 2000s for the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears and the then besties Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton. Juicy had customers and celebrities clamouring to buy their velour garments in every colour offered.

Famous for their bedazzled and foiled butt prints, Juicy made their first steps back to relevance last year with a campaign with US Retailer Bloomingdales titled #TrackIsBack. Cult-Fashion Brand Vetements’ has also collaborated with Juicy Couture for their SS17 collection signalling a clear alignment of stars for the tracksuit brand’s comeback.



For most 90’s kids growing up in the township there was nothing more stylish then having a full Ellesse combo, especially around Christmas time. Recently the Italian, British owned sportswear brand has been sported on Cassper Nyovest and been popping up in Studio 88 stores around the country.

Even though Kasi kids around South Africa took ownership of the brand as part of their identity, Ellesse fans around the world were just as passionate about this 90’s brand icon.



Wandi Nzimande and Sechaba Mogale wrote the blueprint for local streetwear brands; they built a multi-million rand company from the boot of their cars that went on to conquer the whole of Southern Africa. They were also the first to do artist collaborations, the most memorable one being with Pro-kid at the height of his fame.

In 2003 when H20’s “Its Wonderful” ruled the airwaves the LL Cool J/ Fubu effect had every kid in South Africa wanting to start their own label “Like Wandi and Sechaba” they were the Ralph Lauren’s of the Hood.



Lifted Research Group was a ridiculously successful streetwear line that was founded in 1999 by the late Jonas Bevacqua and his partner Robert Wright. L-R-G started off a skateboard line but then blew up after various hip hop personalities embraced its unique clothing and message.

L-R-G was the first successful hip hop influenced line that was not afraid to preach to its audience. The brand went “green” and gladly promoted eco-friendly causes. This resonated with the underground community in a major way. The like of Kanye West, U-G-K, Just Blaze, The Roots happily featured in their campaigns. Considering where things are in the world, a proper L-R-G comeback could do us a world of good.

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