HIP HOP THE CULTURE THAT INSPIRES
WRITTEN BY JASMINE ROZARIO
You don’t have to be a fashion insider or “sneaker head” to recognize the power of Hip-Hop culture over the fashion industry. Streetwear, a hard to define but easily recognizable “counter-culture “ is the newest example of the imagination and creative pursuit of Hip-Hop artists and lovers. With roots that can be in part traced back to earlier forms of urban wear, streetwear is far from an overnight success. Today’s streetwear is being embraced by major fashion houses and have given rise to the likes of luxury streetwear heavyweights such as Virgil Abloh, Pyer Moss, Fenty and more. However, none of this would be possible without the foundations laid out by earlier hip-hop legends,fashion designers, risk takers and visionaries.
Asap Rocky in Virgil Abloh
Among the most notable and recognizable early contributors to what we now call luxury streetwear is Dapper Dan. Dan is most famous for his “knock off” use of the Gucci logo and blending it with his own designs and styling of early Hiphop youth in Harlem. At first, his creations were met with hostility from the larger brands he appropriated (jacked). Dapper Dan’s boutique was eventually shut down due to the misuse of high-end luxury logos. In a full circle series of events, possibly due to the massive influence of rap music over popular culture, Dan was later embraced by the luxury houses that once opposed him as they paid homage to his legendary pieces and help co-sign his place into luxury x streetwear history.
“ Dapper Dan yellow I’m always in Gucci “-Meg Thee Stallion
Dapper Dan Shaking hands with Jay Z at His “Ultimate Fashion Experience With Dapper Dan” Event
Other brands that helped shaped streetwear as we know it were 90’s iconic brands Cross Colours and FUBU. Both could be seen on hip-hop’s most influential stars including TLC, Will Smith, and LL Cool J. At the forefront of their mission was community activism,inner-city power, and freedom from prejudice of all kinds.
As rappers grew in fame and status, so did their ambition. The mid 90’s to the early 2000’s was the era of the hip-hop mogul. Rappers were no longer models or influencers used by designers to promote their brands, they were now looking to own the tables they had only just recently been invited to. Brands such as Wu Wear, Phat Farm, Sean John, RocaWear, Ecko and their female counterparts Baby Phat, Fetish and J. Lo all helped usher in the hip-hop lifestyle to fans and consumers. Staple pieces from this era included velour sweatsuits, sneakers, graphic tees emblazoned with their own logos, and headbands. They wore their clothes in their videos, promoted their drops in their lyrics wii the self awareness of their own power and influence over what was “hot”. Karl Kani & Tommy Hilfiger often seen on top Rnb & Hip-hop artist like Aliyah 2Pac & Nas also made a huge impact on the industry the we can’t exclude by any means.
“ You know I stay fresh to death a boy from the projects and imma take it to the top of the globe” Jay-Z
Today, according to hypebeast analytics, more than 80 percent of consumer respondents credit hip-hop as a major influence on streetwear versus its other cultural contributions from skate and surf culture. The success of Yeezy’s, and Drake’s OVO shows that the legacy is continuing with today’s biggest artists, and in an industry reported to be worth 185 billion dollars and growing, despite Virgil Abloh’s prediction,“streetwear will die”, it still seems to be a promising lane for up and coming artists to both express themselves and try their hand at becoming the next generation’s hip-hop mogul. If streetwear does “die” history has shown us that the death is best understood as a rebirth. Cultural influence from the streets will continue on no matter what category it falls under and will merely be the beginning of a new era of self started style to introduce to the world, again.
Shoutout to other brands such as LRG, Akademiks, Enyce, Ethika, BAPE, Billionaire Boys Club, Mecca, State Property and Milano Di Rouge.
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