Top 10 Hottest Fashion Trends Inspired By Hip-Hop
It’s 2013, dog. It’s almost 2014. That is mind-boggling, especially when measured by Internet standards. In the ever-changing online landscape, 10 years ago is practically a century. Every second of every day, we can see what our favorite rappers and hip-hop icons are up to. We can also see what they’re wearing, which is important because they influence the fashion trends we consider cool or uncool every day.
Every year since 2003, hip-hop has adopted a new trend of its own. Trying to keep up with what was hot back in 2005 is tough, but luckily, we know our shit. Get all nostalgic while you pop in your “Best of” tapes from years past and check out Top 10 Hottest Style Trends Inspired By Hip-Hop.
Hip-hop was born in 1970s New York as a reaction to disco culture, which ruled the roost at the time. Block parties were started in New York City boroughs like the Bronx, which were mostly made up of Caribbean immigrants and young African-Americans, and this is how hip-hop was born. People in New York would dress up in their best outfits for disco clubs, and young people in low-income neighborhoods adopted this mentality at block parties, displaying their best fits. They typically wore bomber jackets, tracksuits, and oversized laces with their sneakers. Clothing was baggy and oversized, owing largely to inner-city hand-me-downs.
Early pioneers practiced using two turntables to extend the dance break in funk and soul records, resulting in a seamless sound.
Hip-hop fashion has helped to break down barriers and redefine what is considered fashionable. It popularized streetwear and urban aesthetics and continues to shape the industry.
While hip-hop was born in African-American communities, its fashion influence transcends racial and cultural lines. Hip-hop style and its various trends are popular among people of all backgrounds.
Who pioneered the trend? Soulja Boy, T-Pain
Chains. Watches. Grills. There are more diamonds. The guys went for it. What a bad time for hip-hop fashion, because even the fashionable elite were getting into the gaudy jewelry game. The bigger the chain, the more respect one might expect as an artist? On top of that, a display of wealth? It was a constant competition that the average Joe couldn’t keep up with.
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Jewelry, particularly statement pieces, has always played an important role in hip-hop fashion. Following in the footsteps of Big Daddy Kane, B.G. of the Hot Boys introduced the term “bling” to dictionaries worldwide in 1999. The term, which has since faded into obscurity, was coined to describe the drapes of expensive and ostentatious jewelry, or “bling,” that rappers frequently wore to complement their swag.
“A very interesting thing to think about more recently is this association with luxury and how it’s taken over hip-hop fashion,” Elizabeth Way said of its influence in the genre. A nameplate necklace or ring, for example—kids in the 1970s had them made at the corner store with a brass plate.
Who pioneered the trend? Pharrell, Lil Wayne
LRG, Bathing Ape, and Ice Cream hoodies were in high demand, thanks to Pharrell, Lil Wayne, and Ludacris wearing them everywhere. Everyone in the hood was trying to cop the 3XL joints (most likely fake) like their favorite rapper because, let’s face it, those shits were expensive and difficult to find in larger, baggier sizes.
Who pioneered the trend? Kanye West, 2 Chainz
How many cows have been slaughtered in the name of the leather craze that began last year and has continued into this year? Hip-hop legends like Kanye West and 2 Chainz are to blame for this bovine uproar. The leather trend was clogging Internet servers, whether it was En Noir sweatpants or a leather kilt. It wasn’t just all-black-everything any longer. It was elevated to a new level of opulence.
Sportswear as a fashion statement was a major aesthetic shift during the emergence of hip-hop-inspired style. This included baseball jackets and sports jerseys, with “throwbacks,” or vintage-inspired looks, becoming popular in the early 2000s. Rapper Fabolous is said to have been one of the first to bring this to the public forefront, and many have continued the trend to date.
Who pioneered the trend? Memphis Bleek
Memphis Bleek was known in the late ’90s for wearing a cap over his durag, and he was one of many who chose to show off his silk cap as a fashion accessory. Durags are used to preserve and protect hair, but artists repurposed them, making them a fashion staple throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Durags were popularized as a fashion statement by Jay-Z, Nelly, and Cam’ron. Solange Knowles wore a durag with a halo to the Met Gala in 2018. Rihanna proudly wore it on the cover of British Vogue in 2020, undoubtedly influencing how these head garments are perceived in public.
Who pioneered the trend? Slick Rick
Name-dropping brands within songs is a well-known hip-hop move, but one of the first to do so was Slick Rick in 1985. The rapper mentioned the Bally shoe brand when doing a run-down of his outfit in his classic song with Doug E. Fresh “La Di Da Di” and was seen wearing a pair on the album cover for “The Great Adventures of Slick Rick.” Popular in the 1980s, the brand revived in 2019, offering homage to hip-hop for its rise.
Who pioneered the trend? Alicia Keys and Janet Jackson
Braids have long been a part of Black culture, with hip-hop fashion playing a role in popularizing the protective style. Various styles of braids and cornrows were worn by rappers like Ludacris, Bow Wow, and Snoop Dogg, as well as R&B artists like Alicia Keys and Janet Jackson—from music videos to red carpets—during the 1990s and 2000s. Hairstyles surpassed music, with athletes like Allen Iverson famously having his mother braid his hair on the bench mid-game and actresses like Brandy making the style her own during her “Moesha” days.
Acrylic nails have long been a staple in Black and brown culture, serving as a display of creativity and individuality since their modern-day adaptation in the 1970s. Since the 1990s, hip-hop artists such as Lil’ Kim and Missy Elliott have been known for incorporating their personalities into their nail designs and rocking jewel- and sparkle-laden tips. While highly stylized nails are now a mainstream trend, it’s important to remember how Black women in the 1980s, such as Florence “Flo-Jo” Griffith-Joyner, were chastised for wearing long nails.
Hip-hop fashion is known for its oversized clothing, which ranges from long tees to baggy jeans to mid-calf shorts. These tees are a great example of how the trend evolved from being associated with drug dealing to being a common urban clothing staple, especially after Dem Franchize Boyz made it a regular outfit choice in the early 2000s.
“We look at the idea of playing with silhouette, the idea of playing with proportions—these are all things that innovative fashion stylists, designers, and wearers do,” says Elizabeth Way. Playing with this baggy silhouette, which was so influential in how people dressed, was not recognized as a fashion innovation in hip-hop.
Who pioneered the trend? Dapper Dan
Dapper Dan is also credited with popularizing iconic pieces such as puffer coats and fur-lined jackets by collaborating with artists such as Salt-N-Pepa and Big Daddy Kane. Despite his popularity among hip-hop artists, the designer was initially rejected by white-led fashion houses such as Gucci. Dapper Dan was eventually asked to collaborate with Gucci, gaining him much-deserved fame and continuing to influence fashion to this day.
Hip-hop has been a powerful force in shaping fashion, and this list highlights the impact it has had over the years. Hip-hop fashion’s creativity and individuality have left an indelible mark on the fashion world, from oversized hats to statement accessories. It’s incredible to see how these trends evolve and inspire new generations.
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