Hip hop fashion is a huge part of the hip hop culture, and is something that has evolved and changed over nearly 30 years. The 80s saw the birth of hip hop clothing, and the genre was really brought about in the early 80s. It first evolved in the Bronx, an area of New York City. Early on hip hop clothing was dominated by Jheri curls, lots of jewelry, sneakers with phat (wide) laces, and sports wear. Companies like Adidas and Nike were the most commonly worn clothes in the hip hop scene, though bomber jackets also became a part of the hip hop culture. Through the 80s, the genre started becoming influenced by the west coast, and people like Will Smith started introducing things like Flat Top hair styles and high top sneakers. However the core of the hip hop fashion style was still the same. As rappers shaped hip hop as a music genre through the 80s, the clothing evolved with it. Hip hop became more and more popular, and the clothes were becoming less and less counter culture, and before long even high class fashion designers were looking to the hip hop culture for inspiration for their liens of clothing. However old school hip hop and clothing are still a nostalgic and important part of hip hop history, so it is important to learn about it if you are interested in understanding hip hop culture and how it evolved.
In the early 90s, hip hop fashion became influenced by traditional African dress. Bright colors, large pants, and head wear were all heavily influenced by this style of dress. Micheal Jordan also became a big name in the hip hop fashion game, and Nike continued to drive the sports wear side of the culture. Starter Jackets also became popular, and in fact became something of a status symbol among hip hop enthusiasts, as they were stolen from retailers frequently. Who remembers the old school parkas?! Baseball caps also became popular among rappers in the early 90s, and were usually worn backwards or to the side, and were often times brightly colored, as influenced by African dress. Gangsta style emerged, popularized by N.W.A., it featured Dickie jeans, plaid shirts, and baseball caps, often times these clothes would match color wise so as to show support for one’s neighborhood, in which clothing color was important. As the 90s moved forward, gangsta style moved towards styles developed in prison, such as wearing jeans low and sagged, black ink tattoos, and bandannas. The other side of hip hop, or the elite side, went the opposite route, and developed such trends as wearing suits, bowler hats, and other clothes inspired by the gangsters of old. Later in the 90s, throwback jerseys became popular, and the whole style starting moving more and more mainstream, today hip hop culture is one of the dominating forces in the cultural backdrop of America.