Local clothing shop promotes self-confidence through fashion

In 1999, Hip Hop Fashions owner Brad Kirk made the decision to start selling T-shirts after owning “Brad’s Car Audio.”

Kelley Holland

The sounds of R&B flow throughout a store on the Bypass as customers come and go. Colorful T-shirts and hats cover the walls inside, making the small store feel bigger than it really is.

Hip Hop Fashions offers a wide variety of men’s and boy’s clothing, hats, cologne and even some CDs. The store has been in Bowling Green since 2004, but its origins go back even further.

In 1999, Hip Hop Fashions owner Brad Kirk opened “Brad’s Car Audio,” a car audio and T-shirt shop in Owensboro. When he noticed T-shirts were more popular among customers, he made the switch to a clothing store.

Kirk opened a store inside a mall in Evansville, Indiana, soon after where he remained for about six years before moving to the Greenwood Mall in Bowling Green for a short time. Due to mall rent being too expensive, Kirk said he moved his store to the Bypass and has been there ever since.

“I’ve always wanted to have my own store,” Kirk said. “I always liked fashion. My father was always an entrepreneur his whole life, so I watched that my whole life. I knew I wanted to work for myself.”

Besides the clothing store, Kirk owns the entire building the store’s part of. This includes the auto mart next door and the salon near the building’s end, which his wife operates.

There have been many pros and cons to owning a business, but Kirk said he’s been able to navigate them all and learn what works best for him and his store.

In order to thrive in a place like Bowling Green, he said he needed to stay on top of trends and figure out what items sell best. However, he said the most important aspect of operating a business was finding something he liked.

“Just like going to a bad job, you wouldn’t want to go to something you didn’t enjoy,” Kirk said.

Kirk said one of the most enjoyable parts of owning the store is watching fashion trends change over time. He said keeping up with trends can be a challenge, as well, since they change so often. Additionally, he gets to pick everything sold in the store. Every three months or so, Kirk meets with sales reps from different clothing lines and chooses inventory.

The brands sold in Hip Hop Fashions change often, but right now some of the notable ones sold are Outrank, Diamond Supply and Rich & Rugged. A glance at Hip Hop Fashion’s Facebook page shows Migos, a highly popular rap trio, wearing some of the brands the store sells. Kirk said he tries to keep a variety of clothing in his store from cheaper-end to middle-level brands.

Besides his love for fashion, one of the things Kirk finds most rewarding about owning Hip Hop Fashions is his customers.

“I’ve been here long enough where now I’m selling to my customers’ kids,” Kirk said. “Now I’ve got the father and the son that I’m able to sell to.”

Ericson Reynolds, the manager at Hip Hop Fashions, has watched the business blossom over the years.

“Seeing someone you have been friends with start something from nothing and build it into a thriving business that has been around this long and outlast giant corporations in this area is amazing,” Reynolds said in a text.

Reynolds also said Kirk does not forget about those who have helped make his business a success. In fact, Kirk volunteers his time and donates resources to charitable organizations throughout the state.

Fashion obviously plays a role in most of our lives, and Hip Hop Fashions is committed to making residents of Bowling Green feel good about what they’re wearing.

“When you look good, you feel good,” Reynolds said. “And when you leave Hip Hop Fashions, you are guaranteed to feel good.”

Kirk plans to expand the boy’s section of his store as well as the big and tall section, he said. He also plans on getting a website up and running for the store to keep up with online shopping trends.

Features reporter Kelley Holland can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected].