Fashion Trends Started by Hip-Hop

Fashion is an art form based on inspiration. It is stimulated and motivated by other aspects of life such as certain events, cultural norms, other art forms, etc. Hip-hop culture is one such inspiration. In the history of fashion, there have been a few trends that were adopted from hip-hop culture that went to become successful fashion fads.

Hip-hop is a cultural and art form known to have been initiated by African Americans, Latino Americans and Caribbean Americans. Hip-hop started in the 1970s and to date, it is known to be one of the most prominent art forms in the music and fashion industry.

Hip-hop culture comprises nine elements out of which four are considered main to understand the movement. These four elements are Rapping, DJing, breakdancing, and graffiti. There have been several fashion trends stemming from hip-hop culture and in this article, we are going to list down a few of such trends.

1. Paisley Prints:

two women wearing paisley printed shirts

A major sub-genre of 90s hip-hop was ‘gangsta rap’. As the name pretty much suggests, gangsta rap was based on gang culture. The 90s gang culture was promoted by three main inner-city gangs. Each gang wore a separate color. The Los Angeles based ‘Bloods’ who sported red, ‘Crips’ who wore blue, and the Latin Kings who wore black and gold as their color.

Wearing paisley printed bandanas in the gang’s respective color was a symbol of affiliation to that specific gang. However, after the origination, the style spread, and many people took to wearing paisley printed bandanas as a fashion trend. Today, many sport the bandanas without implying any sort of affiliations to any gang.

2. Oversized White Tees:

We all must be aware of the oversized clothes trend that is mostly seen sported by the rappers. This trend sprouted from hip-hop culture. One reason behind this fad is said to be the fact that most kids growing up in poor neighborhoods wore clothes that were hand-me-downs from their elder siblings. This meant that they were often a size or two loose.

This later became a fashion trend as most rappers/hip-hoppers were seen wearing loose, oversized shirts.

a man walking wearing an oversized white t shirt with denim shorts and sneakers

3. Quilted Jackets:

Also known as Puffy Jackets, this is one other trend influenced by hip-hop culture. Puffy insulated jackets started as a mere necessity and not a fashion trend. When the youth in cities of the East Coast wore puffy jackets, it was generally with the objective of protecting them from the extreme climate.

a woman in a mustard quilted jacket with a black crossbody bag and standing in front of a wall with graffiti

However, when rappers from the East Coast gained fame and became known rappers, they took the puffy jackets to fame with them. The rappers carried the jackets well and soon, it became a fashion fad sported by many.

4. Timberland Boots:

a person wearing camel colored high boots

Timberland released its 6 inches work boots in 1973. The basic purpose behind the making of these strong and sturdy high boots was to provide construction workers with the right footwear that they could wear while working. However, these Timberland boots gained a unique fame with the hustlers and rappers of New York City.

The history goes on to show that the drug dealers found comfort in these shoes when they had to stand all night on the streets and work. Since then the rappers of the city started wearing the Timberland shoes to link themselves to the image of a hustler.

With the eventual fame of the rappers, the timberland shoes also gained popularity in the fashion scene. Consequentially, the 6 inch high shoes became a fashion trend inspired by hip-hop roots.

5. Kangol Hats:

Kangol caps have their origination dating back to the 1920s. However, they gained immense popularity during the ‘80s and ‘90s hip-hop scenario when they were shown in some of the most phenomenal films of the decade.

The roles taken by the actors sporting the Kangol caps in the films were usually of drug lords or dealers. One of the most famous role to portray this is of Ordell Robbie in the movie Jackie Brown played by Samuel L. Jackson. The move came out in 1997 and made the Kangol an instant hit among the masses. In the movie, Ordell is shown a gun runner and a drug dealer.

These prominent gangster characters became the reason much of the youth inspired by hip-hop accepted this style and turned it into a fashion fad.

6. Lavish Tracksuits:

There was a time when tracksuits were only assumed to be for, well, the track. But thanks to Dapper Dan and hip-hop, tracksuits are now a famous fashion fad.

The story started when Dapper Dan found a niche in the people of the hip-hop movement. The huge and successful brands didn’t seem to be catering correctly to the needs of these people. When Dapper Dan opened his boutique and started selling, their tracksuits got huge fame and popularity. It was then that luxury tracksuits found a way into the fashion scene.

Due to the fame of certain rappers and them carrying tracksuits so effortlessly, it took no time for it to become a fashion trend followed by many. Today, wearing expensive and high-end tracksuits is noticeably a fashion choice and trend.

7. ‘Bling, bling!’

Shiny, gaudy jewelry has been a major part of the hip-hop culture. Since the start in the 80s, many rappers and hip-hoppers were seen wearing heavy gold necklaces, rings, and even gold teeth. Released in 1980, Kurtis Blow wore around 6 chains on his self-titled album cover.

After hip-hop culture rose to fame and many rappers achieved stardom, wearing blingy jewelry was taken up as a fashion trend followed by others outside the hip-hop movement as well. It became a fashion statement that was initially kicked off by the hip-hop industry.

8. Dungarees:

The 90s produced some timeless fashion trends and dungarees are one of them. Worn by the likes of Tupac, The Fugees, Will Smith, dungarees soon got fame that became ageless. Today, dungarees are worn by young and elder both and are a common piece of clothing.

9. Military Attire:

a man running wearing camo printed pants

When rap group Public Enemy made songs about the tough times people had to face in inner city America, other group members complemented by wearing military uniforms in woodland camo patterns. This was intending to identify themselves with the status of soldiers of America’s urban warzones.

Later, this fashion trend gained a liking by the masses and was adopted by the general public as well. Camo printed pants became a fad worn by many.

10. Coogi Knitted Sweaters:

Colorful knitted sweaters by the Australian brand Coogi became quite the trend when Brooklyn rapper, The Notorious B.I.G., started appearing wearing them. The rapper was also considered hip-hop’s earliest fashion buff talking about labels in his songs and wearing fashion brands long before they got famous.

Notorious B.I.G. was responsible for making Coogi sweaters get the fame they did by mentioning the brand several times in his songs. Hip-hop culture adopted these knitted sweaters which later gained immense fame and became a staple in the fashion industry.

Hip-hop fashion gained popularity when the hip-hop movement became well-known. The exotic and unusual hip-hop trends have been adopted by many and have made a distinct place in the fashion industry.