On March 7, Grammy Award–winning rap artist Nelly hinted at the return of his clothing line, Apple Bottoms. “Don’t call it a comeback,” he wrote on his Instagram page. As most know, Apple Bottoms was an urban fashion brand for women launched in 2003 by the rapper.
While the brand expanded during its blazing seven-year run, its staple product was Apple Bottom Jeans. Pocketed and embroidered with the namesake, the jeans catered to Black women with curves who struggled to find form-fitting denim for our naturally curvy physique. A pair of pants that wouldn’t give you the annoying gap in the back of your jeans like most.
If we are being honest, most denim during the early 2000’s and beyond catered to body types that were “socially acceptable.” But, in 2020, who knew that a body equipped with a synched waist and expanding hips would one day be sought after, celebrated and sometimes manufactured to mimic a Black woman’s.
Apple Bottom finds itself among brands like House of Dereon and Baby Phat (which relaunched last year) as a company that was guided by size inclusion with Black women in mind. Historically, the bodies of Black women have been objectified. In Sara “Saartjie” Baartaman’s case, her large butt and dark skin made her the object of fascination by Europeans who painted her as a savage and freak show for profit. But now in the age of Instagram, our natural body type is in such high demand that retailers like Fashion Nova and PrettyLittleThing find the need to display and cater to a more “slim thick” body type. But we will always remember who did it first and who it was done for.
While Black women have long been the blueprint for many facets of culture, such as fashion, physical features and vernacular (“on fleek” and “sis”), we’re rarely credited for our influence or able to see things we create for us remain as simply our own. In all actuality, Black women never needed to see non-Black women don their physical features and hairstyles to feel validated or socially acceptable. Brands like Apple Bottom that kept Black women at the forefront of their creations did just that. This resurgence, whether you fall into the category of thick or not (because little booties matter too), brings about a feeling of confidence and undeniable presence.
While Apple Bottoms was not exclusively sold to Black women, it has helped lay the foundation for brands that followed and cater to Black women and Black bodies. Invoking the same feeling that Apple Bottoms provided for so many women who thought their bodies were too much.
If you visit Apple Bottoms online, the landing page reaffirms Nelly’s hint with a bold message “Back At It Again! New Styles Coming Soon!” and we are more than ready. With the pandemonium surrounding Baby Phat’s relaunch in 2019 and how nostalgia is fueling fashion, we can only imagine how Black women will show up and out in their new Apple Bottoms.