Urban clothing first started to appear in the early 1980s to reflect the hip-hop culture that was emerging at the time. In a similar manner to the music itself, the fashions and clothing have changed, matured and evolved over the years into what we know see worn all around the world. As has always been the case, many trends in fashion follow the clothes and appearances of those in the music industry and indeed the hip-hop genre is no different. In fact, “urban fashion” has developed its very own sub-culture.
When we think about urban fashion, many of us who have more than a passing interest will be able to name dedicated designers but that wasn’t the case back in the early 80s. In that time it was most closely associated with major sportswear companies such as Nike and Adidas, supported by the fact that Run-DMC had a hit called “My Adidas”. Trainers, sneakers and plenty of bling was seen as a must for those dedicated followers of fashion. A signature hairstyle, one that broke boundaries was also seen as essential if you wanted to look the part!
As hip-hop grew in popularity so too did its legitimacy in terms as being recognised as a music genre in its own right. As this happened, urban fashion became more widely recognised and noted by brands outside of the sportswear industry. Urban fashion was more than just a passing craze, it was something that was here to stay.
In the beginnings, the styles could be closely associated with an African influence with artists such as Will Smith wearing green and gold associated with the continent. As we moved into the 1990s, Gangsta rap started to emerge and become part of the fashion. A street appearance was starting to develop influenced by both gang and prison cultures. Baseball caps, baggy jeans that ran low, T-shirts and sports jerseys were now taking over from the highly shaped and styled original image. Later in the decade, some started to look to a more refined look, with double-breasted suits and dress shoes now becoming part of the necessary clothing.
As we moved into the new millennium, urban fashion started to enter more of the mainstream and indeed had a wide variety of influences including those outside of hip-hop. As a result high street chains started to include the clothes as part of their ranges and various artists from the music industry started to develop their own lines of clothing including Russell Simmons’ Phat Farm and Jay-Z’s Rocawear.
In the modern era of the fashion, we are all familiar with the main brands, many of which are still associated with the sportswear industry. Some like to show plenty of skin whilst others are certainly far more conservative. However, whatever your taste for both men and women alike, no look would be complete without the correct accessories. Urban fashion is very much about the glitz and glamour of living larger than life.