Hip Hop: Fashion Edition

The Evolution of Hip-Hop Fashion: Origins to Now

The origins of hip-hop go back to the 1970s, and the fashion reflected streetwear that kids in the Bronx already had in their possession, like bomber jackets, tracksuits, and sneakers with oversized shoe laces.

Puma, Chuck Taylors, and Pro-Keds dominated the sneaker scene. Baggy clothing was big, likely due to the ill-fitting nature of inner-city hand-me-downs. The fashion of the time blended ingenuity with streetwear. It was a mix and match of accessible clothing, dressing it up and exploring new ways to wear it with pride.

80’s Hip-Hop Fashion

Denim jackets, black bowl hats, and shell-toe sneakers were worn, and they were popularized by Run-DMC. They wore these items on stage when performing, causing it to spark interest in their fans. Alongside them, LL Cool J popularized B-Boy style with Kangol bucket hats, gold jewelry, baggy clothes, and, most famously, branded sneakers. Sportswear was a big trend as well. The trend was matching sweatsuits/tracksuits and varsity jackets. Sportswear is only one facet of hip-hop fashion. Another sector, high fashion, also started integrating into the culture in the 80s.

In celebration of their heritage, Black hip-hop artists, notably the ladies of Salt-N-Pepa and the artists of the Native Tongues collective, made a statement in bold patterns, bright colors, African prints, Kente cloth, and heavy jewelry.

When Nike endorsed NBA star Michael Jordan in the 80s, it influenced all of Black America. The hip-hop crowd sported Air Jordans as leisure wear, and it changed fashion forever.

90s Hip-Hop Fashion

Hip-hop fashion in the 90s followed in the diverse footsteps of the previous decade. Hip-hop moved rapidly through the mainstream through television, particularly MTV.

90s Fashion: TLC's old school hip-hop style in iconic outfits

Oversized white T-shirts, sportswear, and sneakers continued to serve as the baseline for the hip-hop wardrobe, with an influx of puffy jackets, Timberland work boots, flannel shirts, and more denim in the form of jackets, jeans, and overalls.

90s Hip Hop Fashion Trends Are Back in Style - ELMENS

With the popularization of gangsta rap, thanks to West Coast groups like NWA, bandanas came on the scene, symbols of the colors of LA gangs. Public Enemy brought a more military-style flavor to hip-hop fashion.

90s Hip Hop Fashion | Heartafact


The 2000s

Hip-hop streetwear endured as well. Loose-fitting artists’ clothing from the 80s and 90s grew even bigger, including oversized white T-shirts, baggy jeans, and big belts. Denim on denim and throwback jerseys also paid respects to the classic B-Boy look of the past two decades, while baggy camo pants harkened back to Public Enemy. Tattoos and grillz started to replace gold chains. Sweatbands, bandanas, du-rags, trucker hats, and snapbacks with the shiny stickers still affixed dominated headwear. Nike Air Force 1s came back with a vengeance on the sneaker scene.

The 2010s

Good swag includes ensembles like tailored designer suits and Polos paired with fitted jeans. A$AP Rocky partnered with Dior and Calvin Klein in the late 2010s and Pharrell’s Billionaire Boys Club.

As hip-hop returned to high fashion, haute couture also expanded its reach to hip-hop. In 2017, Marc Jacobs’ women’s fall show featured tracksuits, thick gold chains, and retro coats in a nod to the early days. Jacobs commented on his fascination with the fashion of hip-hop, which he deemed the well-studied dressing up of casual sportswear.

Artists like A$AP Rocky have taken hip-hop fashion to new levels like with this Dior campaign

Hip-Hop Fashion Today

Hip-Hop fashion today is very flashy. Everyone is about the name brands and designer. We can hear about it in the songs they rap and pictures they post. Fashion now is more about who has the most money. Who has the biggest chain? How got the most “ice”? The fashion scenery had definitely changed.

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