50 Years On: How The Invent Of Hip-Hop and Fashion Revolutionized Pop Culture

BY Dora Abena Dzaka November 15, 2023 5:59 PM EDT
Photo Credit: Chioma Umeala.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Fashion and hip-hop have always been closely associated, almost as partners, and have chiefly been part of the movements that shifted the paradigm in influencing pop culture history.

It would be appropriate to examine how hip-hop, a dynamic art form, influenced and still influences the fashion industry as we commemorate 50 years of the genre.

A genre that originated in the neighborhoods of South Bronx, New York City, in the 1970s, went beyond its musical roots to become a massive cultural movement. Specifically, its impact on fashion has been nothing short of revolutionary.

The street fashion that emerged in the early hip-hop scene was rooted in resourcefulness, borrowing elements from sportswear and urban street style such as oversized shirts, tracksuits, sneakers, and prominent logos became the signature look.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s Hip-hop fashion saw a major shift with the introduction of high-end luxury brands such as Gucci, Versace, and Fendi which turned into a tool for defying convention and claiming individuality from Run-DMC Adidas looks, to Timberland boots.

This revolutionary blending of high fashion and street style has been greatly influenced by several designers.

Their creations embodied the movement’s culture, and they were aware of the special fusion that existed between street and luxury.

When it comes to hip-hop and fashion, a few names stand out, like Dapper Dan, who is regarded as the “father of hip-hop fashion” and a pioneer in Harlem who made custom, upscale clothing that was influenced by luxury labels.

Legendary musicians like Eric B. & Rakim, Salt-N-Pepa, and LL Cool J wore his designs, and Kimora Lee Simmons, who, with the 1999 release of Baby Phat, defined hip-hop femininity in the early 2000s.

The glam-meets-streetwear style of the pieces was popular among female artistes, such as Alicia Keys, Missy Elliott, and Lil’ Kim.