Since the emergence of hip-hop in the 1970s, fashion has taken a different trend with youths in every part of the world embracing it. From designer clothing to expensive jewelry and custom footwear, hip-hop has totally been a big influence. It’s not new to see teenagers wanting to look like some of their favorite artists who put on these elegant attires.
Going back to how it all started in the Bronx New York, it was the difficult living conditions people faced which started as a protest which led to the birth of Hip-Hop. While it evolved as a music genre, so did its role in passing the people’s message.
One of the elements that defined its culture and influence in fashion was breakdancing which led to people wearing a lot of sportswear clothing in those communities. As time went on, the major sports clothing brands like Nike, Puma, FILA, and Adidas became part of the Hip-Hop lifestyle.
The irony was that, at first, many of the marketers and retailers didn’t see the potential that was gaining ground then, except for a few like Adidas. They grabbed the opportunity that was available by establishing relationships with the artists, producers and DJs, which made them get huge returns.
When many of these artists began to experience wealth and fame, they found more expensive clothing brands more attractive. Clothing line giants like Tommy Hilfiger and Polo Ralph Lauren used this opportunity to market to minorities, making their clothes become an indication of financial success. Of course, more Hip-Hop artists began wearing many other luxury brands like Gucci and Lois Vuitton, which symbolized the escape from harsh living conditions they were born into.
On the other hand, while the Hip-Hop community continued to thrive with these brands, others like Timberland and North Face noticed but decided not to act, as they felt that chasing after these urban communities would only cheapen their brands due to the adversities in those communities.
This, however, led to a new breakthrough.
Many of the top artists saw the potential in creating their own brand. Marketing wasn’t even a problem as they kept mentioning their brand names in their musical lyrics. So, instead of promoting brands that showed no interest in them, they decided to go with their own clothing line. This began the introduction of labels such as FUBU, Rocawear, Wu-Wear, and Phat Farm into the market, and they were all founded by Hip-Hop artists. Sean “Puffy” Combs and Jay-Z were some of the pioneering artists who took the fashion world by storm.
With the pace at which Hip-Hop is moving along with fashion, it seems that there will be no slowing down anytime. Some musicians like Kanye West have continued to stress that they are more than just musicians, while pushing their own brand. Other musicians like Drake, Pharell Williams, and Tyler, and the Creator have proven to be top artists who are also riding on the fashion industry.
Hip-hop has gone beyond being a music genre – it’s a lifestyle with clothing being influenced by it.