When the genre of hip hop first began to get notice in the 70s and 80s, a certain street style became characteristic of the culture. Artists from Run DMC to LL Cool J could likely be seen rocking Adidas and Kangol. In the 90s, it shifted to jerseys and Jordans. In the early 2000s, it was baggy jeans, Air Force Ones and tall tees. This was about as involved as hip hop artists had gotten with the fashion industry, but as of late, the two industries have become more and more interwoven. Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, Big Sean, Chris Brown all have found ways to incorporate the classic hip hop street style with higher fashion. Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Baleciaga--they're wearing it all.
In a recent interview with Complex Magazine, Big Sean described where things are going for him fashion-wise. He touched on topics such as his collaboration with Adidas as well as how his fascination with higher end fashion has developed. The Detroit native also noted how much of an influence the very man who discovered and signed him to his G.O.O.D. Music label, a fashion icon in his own right, Kanye West, has had on his fashion sense. When asked about Mr. West, Sean explained:
"Being around Kanye, he really takes fashion seriously and just being around him and soaking up the information that he has and talking about it and being around him when we meet up with the editors of the top fashion magazines like Complex and shooting with the top fashion photographers and having that conversation—it does affect your style. And you take what you get from situations like that and you incorporate it into your own."
When Kanye West began to really gain notice as a musician in the early 2000s, he stood out as someone different, not just for his lyricsm and production, but for his unique fashion sense as well. Crowning himself the Louis Vuitton Don, he rocked items that you wouldn't typically see other artists wearing. He continued to expand this persona as a pioneer for fashion in the hip hop world when he started what he called, the Rosewood Movement. He and his G.O.O.D. Music signees were often seen wearing tailored suits and loafers. But he didn't stop there. More recently, West launched his first fashion line, DW, which he debuted during Paris fashion week 2011.
A young artist who is making a name in the music biz, A$AP Rocky, has become known for his classic New York sound and equally so for his unique fashion sense. This past summer, the 24-year-old was featured in GQ. He described, "With clothes, I like mixing what different designers do until it becomes a personal expression of how I'm feeling that day."
Another young artist, known as an R&B crooner who more recently transitioned into the hip hop scene, Chris Brown, too has become known for his unique fashion sense. He's heard a lot of criticism for some of his choices, but Wilhelmina Modeling Agency saw something in Brown, having recently signed him to their artist management division. Taylor Hendrich, director of Wilhelmina's men's division, describes, “Chris Brown is a… multifaceted artist with a unique take on style, and we are excited to translate and extend his brand.”
In the interview with Complex this week, Big Sean further commented on the influence he and Kanye have on each other's fashion sense.
"I'll take fashion tips from Ye, and Ye will take fashion tips from me too. And you'll see it. You can see it in videos, you can see it in what we wear, what he wears, what I wear, and we all influence each other. Everybody."
I think that sums it all up. Hip hop influences fashion. Fashion influences hip hop. We all influence each other. I'm interested to see how far artists will continue to take their fashions and how accepting the fierce fashion world will be of these artists.
In your opinion, what hip hop artist has the best fashion sense? Comment below!
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"Stars open among the lilies. Are you not blinded by such expressionless sirens? This is the silence of astounded souls."
~Sylvia Plath, from Crossing the Water