Hip Hop And Its Influence On 90’s Fashion
Although hotly contested with other subculture elements such as street entrepreneurship, hip hop language, and beatboxing, hip hop clothing and fashion became widely considered as the fifth pillar of Hip Hop culture. Hip Hop clothing became a distinctive style of dress highly influenced by the African American and Latin styles of the inner city youth in New York City. This fashion trend soon spread out to the nearby cities of Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco Bay area, Detroit, Atlanta, and eventually worldwide, as it complements the expressions and attitudes of Hip Hop culture.
The increase of Black Nationalism in the late 1980’s became highly influential in rap music that fashions and hairstyles started to reflect traditional African influences. Dance-oriented rappers such as MC Hammer and Fezzes decorated themselves with Hip Hop dance clothes such as blousy pants, kufis, Kemetic hats, and Kente cloth hats.
Bright colours, large pants, and headwear also became the norm in the 90’s Hip Hop fashion as African American dressing continuously influenced the hip hop communities. Will Smith’s character in the comedy series “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” became an icon in the classic fashion trend of the 90’s, always seen as wearing baseball caps, throwback jerseys, and bright colourful garments.
90’s Hip Hop artists like TLC and late R&B singer Aaliyah spearheaded the fashion trend among women as they adopted the baggy pants, crop tops, big flannels, and brightly coloured clothing in their iconic looks. Other artists like Queen Latifah and Public Enemy also wore African chains and dreadlocks.
By the mid-late 90’s, the hip hop “elites” in the fashion community harkened back into the gangsters of the 1930’s and 1940’s for inspiration, particularly the Mafioso influences popularized by the 1983 remake of the gangster movie “Scarface”. Many rappers replaced their gang-inspired clothing with gangster influenced clothing such as bowler hats, silk shirts, double-breasted suits, and alligator-skinned shoes.
This classic gangster style image soon transcended into the R&B world with artists such as Jodeci adopting the edgy and sexy look. Women in hip hop began to adopt the tough-guy image with bagging pants, heavy work boots, “Loc” sunglasses, balancing the distinct feminine and hip hop feel. These artists appealed to both the male and female demographic as they coupled their baggy clothing with their badass attitude.
Urban streetwear and sportswear brands such as Tommy Hilfiger also became prominent throughout the 90’s hip hop with celebrities like; Snoop Dogg, TLC, and the late Aaliyah commonly seen dressed in Hilfiger rugby shirts and tube tops. Tommy Hilfiger exuded an air of exclusivity and aspiration in its brand that contributed to its popularity among the hip hop market. Black models were prominently featured in the company’s advertising campaigns that even rappers such as Puffy and Coolio participated in Hilfiger runway shows.
Another type of sportswear that rose in popularity during the 90’s were throwback jerseys such as those manufactured by Mitchell & Ness. Will Smith wore one in his 90’s music video “Summertime” as well as Spike Lee in the movie “Do the Right Thing” where he wore a throwback Brooklyn Dodgers jersey. Other sportswear companies such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Nautica, and DKNY followed suit and became prominent hip hop outfits in the 90’s, especially with the rise of expensive throwbacks.
Tips On How To Get The 90’s Look Today
The classic Hip Hop style may have changed a bit since its inception but the core elements remain quite similar. If you need to come up with some ideas on what to wear for a 90’s costume party or you simply want to go vintage and relive the glory days of the 90’s, then get some inspiration from this list of greatest hits of hip hop outfits to create the perfect 90’s ensemble.