Fashion is deeply infused within hip hop culture, and that has lead to the inspiration behind many different fashion styles. The truth is, hip hop stars have now become fashion icons, with several notable musicians having collaborated with massive luxury and streetwear brands to create fashion lines for their fans.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the different fashion styles inspired by hip hop and telling you exactly how you can pull them off.
Dapper Dan was a tailor in Harlem, New York. His legacy lives on in the fact that he dressed pretty much every famous 80s rapper. Dapper Dan was all about sampling, taking the old and funking it up, creating something new and fresh. He would use luxury leathers and fabrics and import logos and cultural icons. These one-of-a-kind, handmade designs had a strong cultural message too – they embodied and empowered black culture, which luxury brands at the time were resisting.
This style relies on going luxury logo mad, so bring out your Chanels, Guccis and Fendis, and don’t be afraid to incorporate bold and colorful prints in your clothes. In fact, Gucci actually released a line after collaborating with Dapper Dan, as a way to pay tribute to his genius and his unique creations, so if you have a couple of thousands of dollars to spare, this might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Run DMC’s fashion choices remains an integral part of streetwear to this day. These guys opted for a simple Adidas tracksuit, shell top sneakers, custom iced out chains and kangol hats. While the kangol hats may not be the soundest choice (although some people can still rock them), the other elements of their chosen look remain in fashion. The decision to wear sportswear was because it was perfect for breakdance, and it has set the standard for B-boy fashion throughout the decades.
Public Enemy/Black Consciousness:
Musicians have long since used their fame to spread messages they believe are important. Public Enemy, an American hip hop group who were prominent in the 80s and 90s, used their platform to criticize the prevailing political climate at the time and simultaneously promoted black nationalism. This message leaked into some of their members’ fashion choices, as they opted to do traditional African clothing, as a reminder of their cultural roots and history. Even more dicey was their decision to wear paramilitary clothing; a message clear as a cloudless day.
This kind of look can be difficult to pull off in a modern metropolitan setting, although you can still pay tribute by mixing traditional African prints into your clothing, or by wearing beaded jewelry and bracelets. The military jackets can also be pulled off, provided they’re not over the top.
N.W.A, a staple of 80s hip hop known for their debut album and the subsequent biographical drama released back in 2015, had their classic signature look that can endure throughout all of time. Black jeans, basic white crew neck t-shirts and hometown baseball caps – that was their go-to, unlike the flashy fabrics and furs that East coast hip hop artists would customarily wear. N.W.A was based in Los Angeles, and would also rep a lot of sports gear, particularly heavy baseball coats with the Oakland Raiders logo on the back. And of course, their look would not be complete without massive gold chains hanging around their necks, serving as a reminder of their success in a society that would heavily marginalize people of their cultural and racial profile.
This look is easy to imitate and pull off, although the saggy black jeans will definitely look out of place today.
High Fashion/Low Fashion:
A look that many hip hop artists opt for these days is a mixture between high fashion and low fashion. Kanye West is especially known for doing this. This is usually mixing basic clothes (t-shirts, jeans) with a flashy coat or needlessly over-the-top footwear. The good thing about this trend is that it’s easy to get the desired effect and is easy to pull off.
Fashion is what you choose to make it
Ultimately, the message you send through your fashion choices is a reflection of who you are and your inspirations. There are so many fashion styles inspired by hip hop, and continue to do so,that it’s difficult, maybe even naive, to try and list them all in one article. Don’t be afraid to change things up, as long as you feel comfortable doing it.