Hip-hop isn’t just one of the most popular genres of music in the world; it’s a lifestyle that millions have adopted. As the decades wore on and hip-hop went from a fledgling music experiment to a bona fide institution, the outfits worn by the genre’s biggest stars became iconic. Here are four artists who showed how hip-hop changed fashion forever.
Run-DMC Set the Template for Street Fashion
In addition to being one of the first rap groups to break into the mainstream, Run-DMC profoundly changed how rap artists present themselves. Hip-hop artists previously wore bright, flashy clothes with lots of colors. Run-DMC shunned these choices and created their own image with components that would define the look of hip-hop for decades.
Street clothes influenced their outfits, and many credit Run-DMC with popularizing sneakers, tracksuits, jeans, and gold chains in hip-hop. Run-DMC’s fashion influenced what artists like LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, and many more have worn over the years, but black fedoras are a stylistic choice that is distinctly their own.
Biggie Smalls Brought Coogi Into the Picture
After Run-DMC pioneered urban style, hip-hop artists always made fashion choices with ties to the street. Biggie Smalls was no different.
Interpolating high-fashion brands like Ralph Lauren was commonplace for hip-hop artists during this time. Nonetheless, Biggie associated himself with a brand that would become synonymous with his image: Coogi.
Although Coogi is an Australian sweater company previously marketed to the wealthy elite, Biggie became the most well-known artist to don their colorful sweaters. Now, wearing a Coogi is a way for artists to honor a hip-hop legend.
Outkast Made Statements With Their Experimental Outfits
As the sound of hip-hop began to change, artists like Outkast would be at the forefront of a new hip-hop revolution. Both members of the group, particularly André 3000, were known to wear bizarre outfits that made a statement.
Throughout their career, Outkast wore colorful bell bottoms, denim, cardigans influenced by 1950’s Americana, leather jackets, jumpsuits, and countless other unique garments. Their exploration brought new possibilities for how successful hip-hop artists could look.
Kanye West Ushered in a New Era of Hip-Hop Fashion
One of the most popular fashion icons in rap over the last decade is Kanye West. Known for his larger-than-life public persona and critically acclaimed albums, Kanye famously began his professional career as an employee at the Gap.
After his early days as a Chicago retail worker, Kanye created the Yeezy shoe collaboration with Adidas. Yeezy shoes sell out consistently worldwide, and they are one example of how hip-hop changed fashion in the mainstream. Kanye ushered in a new era of alternative fashion, lyrics, and samples in hip-hop.