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Hip Hop fashion in the 80's and 90's revealed a new approach to style and dress. It was the beginning of a tidal wave fashion influence still felt today. Sparked by rap artists experimenting with a new art form, Hip Hop fashion became an expression of the Hip Hop culture manifesting in ever aspect of dress. Clothes, shoes and jewelry norms were shattered as more music fans converted to the Hip Hop culture embracing the fresh innovative style of Hip Hop fashion. Today, we experience Hip Hop differently as it is dominated by mainstream corporate commercialization. Nevertheless the organic evolution of Hip Hop fashion continues its spread through the streets, inspiring millions to seek out Hip Hop.
The Hip Hop Fashion evolution started in the early 80's. Men were sporting Jheri curls, a shiny curly afro look, often clowned for its greasy tendencies. Hi-top fades soon took over as men felt proud to prune their afros into box like structures. Kangol hats, which resemble a standard hat but with top pushed down, were in. Afro-centrism was the wisdom of the day represented by red, black and green clothing sported by artists like Public Enemy.
Transitioning into the 90's, band like Kris Kross began to affect Hip Hop fashion spawning a new era of colorful baggy clothing. Kids began wearing red, yellow and green clothing striped like Christmas candy canes. During this time, Hip Hop fashion experienced a new genre of artists known as gangsta rappers. They sparked a west coast phenomenon of rap music and Hip Hop fashion. Gangsta rappers wore khaki pants and white t-shirts keeping things "gangsta" as they referred to it. They sported hip hop bling in the form or hip hop chains and pendant glittering with diamonds. Today, Hip Hop fashion is big business. White kids in the suburbs tilt their hats in honor of Hip Hop. Brands like Phat Farm, Sean John and Rocawear make hundreds of millions of dollars dealing in mainstream Hip Hop fashion.
Hip Hop has also influenced shoe design. In the 80's groups like Run DMC popularized the use of sneakers. Specifically, Adidas white sneakers were worn with bulging thick white laces. In the 90's, Timberland boots dominated Hip Hop fashion on the east coast and Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars were most popular on the west coast. Timberland’s are still worn in modern times but have transcended Hip Hop fashion into a typical mainstream shoe brand. Converse is also still favored by gangsta rappers such as Snoop Dog. Today, however, rappers have their own shoes. The Game and 50 Cent are examples of artists today who are selling original designs in shoe wear manufactured by companies they either fully or partially own.
Hip Hop fashion has always included iced out bling bling jewelry. Back in the day thick yellow gold rope chains were donned by the likes of LL Cool J and Big Daddy Kane. The more conscientious Hip Hop fan might sport an Africa necklace adorning the red, black and green in remembrance of his brothas and sistas in America and Africa. The 90’s came along and so did high end platinum. Sean "Puffy" Combs, Biggy Smalls and Jay-Z made sure you knew that they were sporting platinum, the most expensive of all precious metals. Today, platinum and white gold are highly popular along with diamonds, otherwise known as ice. Bling cross pendants, bullet chain and iced out bling bracelets drip from the bodies of our favorite artists.
Hip Hop fashion continues to influence mainstream fashion in general. The market share of Hip Hop orientated fashion companies continues to grow. As long as interest in Hip Hop music and culture continues, so too will the desire for Hip Hop fashion.
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