Detroit-based stylist Marv Neal uses his fashion sense and urban style to relive the ‘90s in his everyday life.
Photo provided by Marv Neal
Let me take you back. Waaay back.
Back to a time just over three decades ago when Black culture was steadily bangin’ in a golden era where hip hop, fashion and trends collided in the decade of the ‘90s.
This was when Black television truly ruled – “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “In Living Color” premiered in 1990. Just two years later “Martin” came out.
The same year, Nelson Mandela was officially freed from jail and “It Never Rains (In Southern California)” by Tony! Toni! Tone! was released. Also, for the better part of the 1990s, locally, Coleman Young was still mayor.
This illustrious, flashy and larger-than-life decade that was the 1990s (especially in Black culture) is back, boo, and it’s coming in waves to Detroit, a city that did this era proud.
In early May, the Detroit Pistons and Martin Lawrence announced the launch of a Martin-themed Pistons merchandise line. Nearly thirty years after the iconic Martin show premiered with the city of Detroit as the backdrop, Lawrence and the Pistons have reunited for this limited-edition collaboration showcasing Detroit’s love for Martin, and Lawrence’s love for the city in which the TV hit took place. The line became available and it is exclusively on Pistons313shop.com.
Items in this collection include jerseys, hats, shorts, sweatshirts, T-shirts and more. From the well-known “Martin intro text to widely quoted lines and scenes from the show, this merchandise collection mixes the look and feel of the show with Detroit Pistons basketball.
“Detroit has always shown me so much love and always shows up for me,” said Lawrence. “From stand-up tours to fans on the street, Detroit has felt like home. It’s an honor to be part of something that means so much to me to this many years later.”
“With the city of Detroit as the show’s backdrop, “Martin” became must-watch TV in the ’90s,” said Mike Zavodsky, chief business officer of the Detroit Pistons. “Martin’s love for the Pistons in the show translated into a passion for the team – the fact that he has a ring from the 2004 team is proof of that. We’re thrilled to partner with Martin to introduce a merchandise line that pays homage to both Martin and the show’s Detroit roots.”
From basketball to fashion, Detroit-based stylist Marv Neal, 40, can’t help but exude the 1990s.
Neal, who incorporates ‘90’s styling vibes to his clients and himself, said that as a high school student in the 1990s that decade was “very pivotal” for him.
“It was the golden age of hip hop at its biggest point,” he said, adding that in the ‘90s there were a lot of different styles in Detroit that were big. This includes women wearing sculptured ponytail hairstyles and long nails to guys being dressed from head to toe in logomania and baggy jeans.
“I was there for all of that it – it kind of seeped into my style because that’s the urban-ness we know,” Neal said, adding that he grew up watching MTV and BET after school. “I think the ‘90s was it. Man for those who missed it I feel bad.”
Neal added that he is happy about the Martin/Pistons collaboration and that this is proof the ‘90s are coming back.
“I was 12 when Martin came out,” he said, adding that collab “only makes sense.”
“I like that Detroit is getting the notoriety it should have always gotten,” he said.
Local designer, business owner and fashion guru Mira Williams-Estell told The Michigan Chronicle that for her the ‘90s trend is more than fashion and pop culture, but a whole vibe.
“To me, it is nostalgia — it brings back so much for me that gives me life,” she said. “It’s something that I always keep with me so the trend is cool.”
Williams-Estell said that she, too, is a huge “Martin” fan who can quote something from the show at least once a day.
“Growing up in the ‘90s for me was the bomb,” she said. “To be able to relive those times, so to speak, whether it’s in my style of dress, the music we listened to or enjoying TV shows and movies gives me life.”
Decades later she still moves with the best of them while rocking her jean jackets and keeping her “nails did.”
“I love a nice blazer, high wasted jeans and a chic brim hat with a chunky heel,” she said, adding that a little ‘90s flair can go a long way. “I think having a sense of humor and confidence is all you need, combined with a fab outfit nothing can top that. Confidence is like a little black dress — it’s timeless and effortless.”
She added that a little throwback never hurt nobody.
“It goes to show no matter how far we go in the decades, when there’s a time and space that you remember and love the most it never goes away,” she said.