How Hip-Hop Continues To Influence Fashion Designers
Kanye West in Louis Vuitton. Tupac at Versace 1996. Images: @Pinterest
It’s no secret that many of the world’s most famous fashion houses have long been inspired by musical influences. In the 80s, Madonna’s lace gloves and corsets sparked a new direction at Jean Paul Gaultier while Cher’s extravagant costumes and love of all things embellished skyrocketed the careers of Bob Mackie and Halston. In recent years, some of the most prominent faces in the music industry are celebrated Hip-Hop artists and as such, the signature style of this genre has become a permanent reference for many designer brands. While the likes of Gucci, Louis Vuitton and their counterparts may have been slow on the uptake, (apart from Tupac’s infamous runway debut at Versace in 1996), there’s no denying that Hip-Hop as a zeitgeist has actively led the clothing industry into a more casual, streetwear-inspired direction.
Big, Unabashedly Bold Logos
Aaliyah’s 1996 Tommy Hilfiger campaign. Images: @Pinterest
Decorated across streetwear brands like FUBU and Supreme, favoured by Hip-Hop’s finest, bold logos on hats, t-shirts, trousers and bags were a key status symbol. One of the earliest adopters of this trend was Tommy Hilfiger, an all-American brand once known for ‘country club chic’ who quickly got the bold-logo memo and updated the label’s aesthetic accordingly. A quick endorsement from Snoop Dogg on SNL later and suddenly Tommy Hilfiger’s mass appeal was cemented. The label even cast one of Hip-Hop’s most notable names at the time, Aaliyah, in their 1996 ad campaign.
Versace SS18, Louis Vuitton AW18, Burberry SS18. Images: @Pinterest
On the modern runways, this lack of subtlety translated to a move from minimalism to maximalism. At Louis Vuitton in the 2010s, LV logos weren’t just saved for a belt buckle or two but instead became almost a wallpaper that covered apparel from head-to-toe. Other designers followed suit and soon if you were wearing Balenciaga, Versace, Burberry or the like, it was more than clear from your clothing.
Athleisure As The Du Jour Aesthetic
Tom Ford SS20, Burberry AW19, Marc Jacobs AW17. Images: @Pinterest
Sneakers, hoodies and tracksuits were once marketed as strictly off-duty pieces. Worn on the weekends or in more casual settings, these items weren’t seen as work or formalwear appropriate – a notion that could not be further from the truth now. One of the most high-growth (and high-price) industries within the fashion world, sneakers are no longer resigned to sportswear and instead, are a valuable status symbol many designer labels are taking full advantage of. In the last five years alone, the luxury sneaker market grew threefold and in 2019 was valued at over $55 Billion.
Although accessories have played a leading role in high-fashion’s fondness of streetwear, silhouettes such as sweatshirts and joggers have also enjoyed a resurgence on the catwalks of brands that were once only known for couture. At Marc Jacobs, the designer even cited the documentary ‘Hip-Hop Evolution’ as the inspiration for his Autumn/Winter 2017 collection which celebrated the influence of streetwear on youth culture.
Collaborations And Endorsements
Dapper Dan for Gucci 2018 Image: Gucci
While high-end designers may have taken time to warm up to Hip-Hop’s influence on fashion, Hip-Hop has long celebrated and been inspired by high-end designers. Case in point: Dapper Dan. A fixture on the Hip-Hop fashion scene in the 80s and 90s, NYC’s infamous tailor used fake Gucci prints (among others) in many of his designs for clients including Salt-N-Pepa, LL Cool J and more. In a full circle moment, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele recognised the creative genius of these designs and reached out Dapper Dan in 2018 to create a collection for the Italian Maison, inspired by the Harlem-based couturier’s 80s archives.
For more fashion inspiration, check out Usher and Ella Mai’s colourful ‘Don’t Waste My Time’ video: https://cultureshiftuk.com/usher-and-ella-mai-get-one-last-party-in-before-quarantine-in-dont-waste-my-time-video/