How Hip Hop Has Influenced Fashion

This is the first drop in a three part series on how hip hop has influenced the world. This chapter will focus on how hip hop has influenced fashion across many generations and cultures.

Fashion is an integral part of our lives and has been for many decades. From our dads Kangol hats and shell toe Adidas to our moms bell bottoms and door knocker earrings. Each generation has their defining pieces and most of these defining pieces have become popularized by the hip hop culture.

Let’s take it back to the late 80’s when a group of 3 guys from Queens released a ground-breaking song named “My Adidas”. Adidas were not new to New York or the hip hop culture, but the influence that Run DMC had on popularizing them and making them mainstream were. Run DMCs’ hit song ultimately led to them to become the first rap group to receive a million dollar endorsement deal and thus began the official love affair of street fashion and commercialism.

In the 90s, every one of every color & descent was looking at mainstream hip hop as their guide for what was hot on the streets. No one wanted to actually be from the streets, they just wanted to look the part.

One defining piece of the 90s – that we all love to hate – are baggy jeans. Most say this trend started in the prisons, but hip hop did what hip hop does best – make sh*t cool. Every young kid from the ‘burbs that wanted to be down began buying extra large jeans and throwing their belts away. Nowadays, baggy jeans are not so acceptable, with many cities enforcing a law that cites anyone for their public indecency (or willingness to let go of the past).

The 90s were also a pivotal point in the feminist movement, much so with the fashion choices. Hip hop artists like TLC, Mary J. Blige and Aaliyah shunned the uber glam diva look and opted for more comfortable gear. Starter jackets, hats, baggy pants, jerseys & condoms– these ladies wore it all and looked damn good wearing it. They taught every girl & woman that you don’t have to be over-sexualized to be successful.

My favorite hip hop fashion statement (just because I’m a down south girl) has to be gold grills. What better way is there to show everyone that you have money to throw away? All the ballers and shot-callers put their money where their mouths are – literally. It started in the streets, but when grills became commercial the whole world became enticed (or repulsed). Just ask Madge.


What do you think about hip hops influence on mainstream fashion? And, what are some of your favorite pieces?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *