Hip-Hop Fridays: Some Guys Aren't Afraid To Be Pretty In Pink by Margaret Bernstein
When rapper Cam'ron rolls into town this weekend as expected for the Black College All-Star extravaganza, he'll undoubtedly see evidence of the fashion craze he has spawned across the nation.
For more than a year, Cam'ron has fearlessly worn pink to perform his gritty lyrics. Other rappers followed suit.
And now, the shelves at local urban clothing stores are looking pinker than the Barbie aisle at Toys R Us.
Just like the preppies, guys of the hip-hop generation are sporting pink shirts this season as well as pink belts, pink baseball caps and pink throwback jerseys.
"Guys will even buy these," said Kingston Naylor, a sales associate at Next Urban Gear store in Shaker Square, gesturing to a $100 pair of women's Air Max sneakers in pink and white. "Anything pink, they'll buy it."
Some call it the "pretty boy" look. Young guys who wear it say they know it's a bold look to wear such a feminine color, but they aren't afraid to turn heads.
"It's all about what you are and how you carry yourself," explained 17-year-old Chris McMillan of Warrensville Heights High School. He likes to "accessorize" with pink.
"I'm strong in who I am. I don't care what people think. If I wear pink, it's because I think it's nice. I'm a football player."
Robert Rosenthal, owner of three Next clothing stores, said Cleveland's appetite for pink became obvious nine months ago when his customers started snapping up pink Lacoste shirts. Now, he said, urban designers from Phat Farm to Enyce have incorporated pink into their spring looks.
And tough young guys of all styles seem to be getting in the pink. Mall stores that sell sporting goods and urban grunge wear suddenly are awash in the pastel shade. Glimpsed this week at Hot Topic, a punk clothing chain in Parmatown Mall: a hot pink T-shirt reading "Tough guys wear pink."
Expect to see even more with the arrival of prom season, said Glenn Burchette, assistant manager at AJ Menswear in Randall Park Mall, where at least 15 men's suits have already been sold in shades ranging from salmon to Pepto-Bismol.
It takes a brave guy to step out in a pink suit, Burchette said. "They get teased for wearing pink. It's really a woman's color."
Trumaine Smith couldn't care less about the teasing. The Warrensville Heights High senior has plans to wear a white suit with a pink vest and pink tie to his girlfriend's prom this month.
He and two of his fellow football players, McMillan and Pavel Warren, consider themselves hard-core on the football field and secure in their masculinity, and they all like wearing pink. They admit that there's been a feminizing of male hip-hop style lately: They all sport earrings in both ears and are meticulous in their grooming. Although they've been called "pretty boys," they consider it a compliment that attests to the fact that they're popular with the ladies.
Smith and his friends know there's been much talk about how to properly wear pink so as to not look effeminate. In fact, they hotly debate the topic themselves. "If I saw a dude with an all-pink velour outfit - that's soft," said McMillan.
The hip-hop nation remains divided on whether to embrace the color.
"I wouldn't wear it. Pink, it's for females," Brandon Abercrombie, 20, said adamantly. A graduate of Shaw High School in East Cleveland, he now lives near Union Avenue on Cleveland's East Side. "A man with pink on? In my neighborhood, no one wears pink."
Margaret Bernstein is a Plain Dealer reporter, where this article first appeared on May 1, 2004. Margaret Bernstein can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2004 The Plain Dealer.
Saturday, May 8, 2004