Fashion and hip-hop music have always been intrinsically connected
From the early days of hip-hop music in the 1970s until today, streetwear and hip-hop have influenced each other over the past 40-plus years
Certain clothing brands were at the forefront of the rap (hip-hop) movement and as the musical genre took root and gained in popularity in the United States and around the world, both streetwear and the music adapted to the changing times, contributing to an even deeper relationship between the music and fashion.
To understand how the two became so intertwined, you have to have an appreciation for the dynamics that initially brought streetwear and hip-hop music together.
Hip-hop fashion not only is about having the freedom to wear what you want but also embraces a look that celebrates a person’s individuality.
The culture of clothing and hip-hop music
“Hip-hop culture is not just about music; it’s also about a lifestyle. Hip-hop is about people who are free to explore their creativity and connectivity, through a free format of words, language, music, visual styles and, of course, clothing.”
That quote is from the documentary Fresh Dressed, a film that examines the history of urban fashion and its relationship to hip-hop music.The film notes that in the history of the Black culture, especially during the 20th century, a person’s clothing was always a prominent part of an individual’s identity. Fashion allowed one to present themselves to the world in a unique way so that he or she would stand out from the crowd.
Fashion was heavily influenced by religion because when you went to church, you would always wear your Sunday best. Fashion in the church was especially noticeable in the choir, where outfits were as righteous as the music being sung.
Sneakers have always been an important part of a hip-hop artist’s wardrobe.
Adidas executive Angelo Anastasio knew of the band’s affinity for the company’s products, including their adidas “rain suits,” which were slick three-striped tracksuits that were ideal for spinning on cardboard.
But he had no idea of the magnitude of the band’s influence on fashion until he went to one of their shows at Madison Square Garden and saw thousands of rabid fans in the crowd waving their adidas shoes and apparel in unison.
Anastasio’s experience led to a $1 million endorsement deal and was a defining moment in the history of hip-hop music and fashion. It was the first time any brand was prominently featured in a music video when the adidas Superstar sneakers got face time in the band’s collaboration with Aerosmith and the remake of their smash hit “Walk this Way.”
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