Hip-Hop's Love Affair with Fashion

Humble Beginnings 

Since it's humble beginnings in the South Bronx at the end of the 1970's, hip-hop has become a powerhouse of culture, stretching from music and film to art and most notably, the fashion world. From street style to the haute couture houses of fashion, hip-hop and rap have seeped into every facet of the diverse and creative industry.

On the streets of New York, London, LA and Atlanta, rappers and producers have certainly influenced the way we dress. Run DMC, emerging from Queens, New York in the early 80's, popularised the iconic Adidas Tracksuit we still see today on the likes of UK artist Stormzy.

RUN-DMC in Adidas Tracksuits

Stormzy in Adidas Tracksuit

90's hip-hop also influenced the streetwear of the time period and some could argue its influence has stretched to the present day. The windbreakers and colourful prints of the Fresh Prince, Will Smith, to the darker and grittier hoodies, baggy jeans and Timbs worn by hip-hop legends Wu-Tang Clan are still seen today, in both mainstream media such as Netflix and Marvel favourite Luke Cage, and the youth culture of large urban cities of the UK such as London and Manchester.

Wu Tang Clan 1993

Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff Fashion

Contemporary Influence

Even today, hip hop icon and self-proclaimed fashion mogul Kanye West works with Adidas to create his controversial Yeezy line, which many in the fashion world have criticised, yet garnering critical success from the general public, with his Yeezy runners often going for thousands in private auctions across the globe.

In fact, hip-hop and streetwear go hand in hand, from hip-hop's inception in the counterculture of the urban landscape it was born from, to the influences of huge artists like A$AP Rocky and Tyler, the Creator. Even A$AP Rocky's recent GUESS collaboration is influenced by the classic GUESS striped tee worn by rappers in the early 90's.

While Rocky gets his influences from his childhood hip-hop heroes, Tyler's design style is influenced largely by his own imagination, and what he's into at the time. At a show in June 2016 he said "Growing up as an inner city black kid, I wasn't the most masculine, I wasn't into sports, I liked pink and shit." Which is evident just by glancing at the fashion show put on by the artist last year, with flashes of pink all over the collection. During the show, Tyler, shows a skit, focused on his conversation with the character Thurnis Haley, but in the background of which Mikey Alfred (creator of Illegal Civilization) and friend and long-time member of Tyler's creative universe Lionel are playing dice. Whilst this may seem irrelevant, to hip hop heads everywhere this is a staple scene in many people's minds.

MADE’s fashion event in Los Angeles featuring Tyler, the Creator. 

MADE’s fashion event in Los Angeles featuring Tyler, the Creator. 

Rapping it all up

As we can see, hip hop influences fashion in many ways.

Moving towards the more classic ideas of fashion, such as the high fashion favourites of Gucci, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent, hip hop and rap are still stood right there in the front row. The most glaringly obvious example is infamous rapper Gucci Mane, whose decadent music videos have him wearing almost obscene jewellery and of course, lots and lots of Gucci.

When it comes to Versace, Atlanta natives Migos (Quavo, Offset and Takeoff) are no strangers. Their 2013 hit (called, to nobodies surprise, Versace) blasted Migos to their superstar status they seem to be enjoying today. It also earned them a cosign from OVO and Drake, who used their hit and their recognisable flow to create his own version of the song.

Young Thug is also no stranger to high fashion either. He frequently sits at fashion shows in Paris and New York. His most famous flirt with the world of haute couture fashion is most definitely the cover for his 2016 mixtape "No, My Name is Jeffery". The artwork (and it definitely is art) shows Young Thug wearing a pale blue dress, designed by Italian Alessandro Trincone. The beautiful photography by Garfield Larmond is obviously displaying Thug's personal opinions on gender and its roles in society. As the musician said in his Calvin Klein campaign "There is no such thing as gender." The Calvin Klein campaign shows hip-hops influence over the culture of today, and especially is influence over fashion, with influencers like Frank Ocean and Zoe Kravitz joining Young Thug in the campaign.

Young Thug Stops Model on Runway to Fix His Look

Young Thug Stops Model on Runway to Fix His Look

Thug's influence on the fashion world goes even further than that, as seen by his collaboration with VFILES, mentoring designers before the VFILES season 7 show. During the show, Thug stopped one of the models walking to fix his look, proving his dedication to the designer's vision.

Fashion flirts with hip-hop. Hip-hop flirts back. It's a never ending cycle where one influences the other, and the other comes back stronger and harder. The two are almost inseparable, and we here at EXO can't wait to see what they have in store for us.