Hip hop and sportswear have always shared a happy marital union. They’ve been banding together since LL Cool J put on his first Kangol bucket hat in the1980s. Who could forget when Snoop Dogg wore a Tommy Hilfiger sweatshirt on Saturday Night Live in the 1990s? Hip hop fanatics would flock to clothing stores to purchase Dickies Pants and Polo Ralph Lauren button-up shirts as soon as they saw their favorite rapper wearing it. Hip hop artists wore clothing that personified the streets and the urban environment. Every rapper had a unique and distinct look that was influenced by their coast (east or west) and musical style.
Hip hop and sportswear’s relationship has changed drastically in the past few years. Hip hop artists such as Kanye West and A$AP Rocky have taken over the hip hop fashion world in place of favorites like Cam’ron and P. Diddy. Brands including Pyrex Vision, Hood by Air, and Givenchy have infiltrated the hip hop fashion world leaving brands like FUBU and Enyce in the dust. A simple Hood By Air t-shirt retails at $150.00 while a pair of Pyrex basketball shorts can cost as much as $450.00 on eBay.com. These expensive brands have been popularized by a new wave of hip hop artists while followers seem to have forgotten hip hops more humble and individualistic roots.
I acknowledge the fact that trends change with time. I understand that brands that were popular 10 years ago must undergo the test of time to remain classic. I simply miss the days when hip hop artists wore personal clothing that added to their music and persona instead of their social status and public image. Snoop Dogg climbed to the top of the charts in a flannel shirt while Eminem achieved international success in sweat suits from his Shady clothing line. Popular modern day hip hop artists seem to be straying away from having a personal style by wearing the same high-end designers as everyone their peers.
Hip hop and its artists used to focus on real life issues and personal character instead of high-end designers, conformist style, and name-dropping. I feel that the focus on expensive designers and following trends has added to the argument that hip hop artists are forgetting its roots. Modern day hip hop artists have forgotten about the sports jerseys, Starter jackets, and flannel shirts that defined hip hop fashion. Kanye West used to wear simple Ralph Lauren polos and now he’s only seen in Givenchy leather skirts and Rick Owens shirts. A personal style that defies trends and status is much more hip hop than high class conformity. (photos courtesy of tumblr.com, esquire.com, and bakedtheblog.com)