With hip-hop being a youth-based culture at its core, we at the Hip-Hop Culture Center feel it’s important to give the youth a platform to express their feelings on what interests them about hip-hop’s current climate, as well as where they think it’s going. Today, our youth reporter Damar M. Grace takes a look at hip-hop fashion!

    Hip-Hop’s Impact on Fashion

Hip-hop is a form of musical expression and an artistic subculture that originated in African-American and Hispanic-American communities during the 1970s in New York City. As hip-hop started to become popular, it created a strong influence in societies’ fashion. For years, many adolescences mimicked the styles of their favorite celebrities to follow what society deemed as “cool” during that era. From the 1980s tracksuits, sheepskins, and leather bomber jackets, to the 1990s over-sized pants and big flannel shirts, and lastly the 2000s style which has and still is changing constantly from baggy pants and XL t-shirt , to tight pants, snapbacks, and a polo shirt. However, popular name brands like Adidas, Jordan, Reebok, Converse, Ralph Lauren, and Tommy Hilfiger have flourished exponentially from the influence that popular celebrities have spread unto society throughout the years. Celebrities themselves have noticed the impact he/she has had on society itself, even deciding to create brand names of their own like Wu-Tang Clan’s Wu-Wear, Russell Simmons’ Phat Farm, Diddy’s Sean John, Nelly’s Apple Bottom Jeans, 50 Cent’s G-Unit Clothing, Eminem’s Shady Limited, and Damon Dash and Jay-Z’s Rocawear. Each celebrity, with their millions of fans, influence them to buy and purchase their merchandise.

Hip-hop artists create fashion trends by stating a certain brand name during their song, as well as wear certain clothes and shoes during their videos, which a large amount of people follow. Many today are seen wearing the popularized brand name Ralph Lauren, which Kanye West states he takes credit for in Rhymefest’s song “Brand New.” By stating “Ralph Lauren was boring before I wore them,” Kanye shows he believes that he caused the rising boom of Lauren’s brand by wearing their clothes publicly, causing viewers to believe that since Kanye wore those clothes, the brand must be cool.

Today’s music has a strong impact on viewers, and has received criticism for its influence on their susceptible minds. One negative response to hip-hop fashion is the sagging of pants. Originating from the jail practice to give other inmates an invitation for sexual intimacy, musical artists have taken that fashion statement and created it into a way of expression; as a symbol of freedom and rejection of the values of mainstream society. However, this expression has been abhorred by certain people in society explicating the sagging of pants as disrespectful, and disgusting. Additionally, to show their deprecation toward the sagging of pants, laws and dress code regulations have been issued in certain locations to relegate this behavior.

Another negative impact of hip-hop is its commercialization. Music videos feature rappers in expensive cars and houses, wearing expensive merchandise, and boasting about their cash. This encourages people to live beyond their means in trying to keep up with this image by illegal means like robbery. It also influences young people to use violence to resolve conflicts instead of finding a peaceful solution.

With some bad also comes good and hip-hop has proved to be extremely profitable to those that achieved the ranks of stardom influencing young people to succeed in a hip-hop career. Hip-hop has also built an industry around its sense of fashion and music sales which creates jobs for creative minds. Regardless its
good and bad attributes, hip-hop is here to stay and, for many young people, it is a way of life. While it can be destructive to those who fall prey to its negative influences, it’s proven very effective in communicating positive messages.

Damar M. Grace is a 17-year-old honor student from Hackensack High School. He is a member of his school’s Young Men of Excellence, Hip-Hop Club, and Tri-M, a group of gifted students who excel in music. He’s a hip-hop fan who reads the lyrics along with the music to “really hear what the artist is saying” and considers Eminem, Lupe Fiasco and Kanye West among his favorite artists.