Just in time for Earth Day (April 22nd) we’ve curated planet-friendly ‘fits inspired by some of hip-hop’s most enduring sartorial signatures.
This year, the theme of Earth Day – a yearly sustainability awareness event – is ‘Restore Our Earth’. A call to action encouraging consideration of the small, eco-conscious daily choices that can have long-term, restorative effects on the environment. The best place to start? Your wardrobe.
Fashion’s impact on the Earth is only second to the oil industry with 23% of all global chemical production used solely in textile factories. The main culprit is (unsurprisingly) fast-fashion, as on-demand & low-cost companies are sacrificing quality at every step in the supply chain for mass-produced quantity. This churn has led to a reported 10,000 items of clothing being sent to a landfill every five minutes in the UK alone.
The key to addressing this destructive buy-and-bin cycle is clear: shop less and do it sustainably. To help, we’ve rounded up brands that still lean into hip-hop’s classic fashion trends while also doing their part to protect and care for the future of our planet.
Bold Bucket Hats
Popularized by late ’80s to early 90’s hip-hop and worn by R&B stars such as LL Cool J, Missy Elliot and Janet Jackson, the bucket hat delivers a poignantly retro feel to any look. Now back in style again (just look at Prada, Dior and Louis Vuitton’s most recent runways), this summer-ready accessory offers a practical finish to any off-duty look.
Made with only recycled and bio-based materials, Gucci’s ‘off the grid’ collection marks the Italian label’s first serious foray into eco-conscious production. One of its starring pieces? The GG monogram bucket hat. In three statement colourways, this timeless investment piece marries sustainability with style. Starting at £315, it’s already a firm celeb favourite, just ask DaBaby, who recently donned the tangerine version in his ‘Peephole’ music video and single artwork.
For a more affordable alternative, look to tech-driven eco brand Pangaia (more on them below) for another 100% organic and biodegradable update to this practical accessory - minus the hefty price tag.
Shop The Look:
Gucci yellow bucket hat: https://www.matchesfashion.com/products/Gucci-Off-The-Grid-logo-jacquard-bucket-hat-1356275
Pangaia bucket hat: https://thepangaia.com/products/bucket-hat-black
The tracksuit has long since superseded its athleisure origins to become an intrinsic part of rap culture. From Run DMC’s iconic Adidas pairings to Diddy’s all-white velvet co-ords, this garment remains an emblem of classic streetwear today. Whether you prefer to separate the set or wear it as a two-piece, a statement tracksuit offers unparalleled style credibility.
Shop for this classically casual fit with a brand that offers a luxurious element to their loungewear – while still placing environmental accountability at the core of their business. Most known for their Insta-famous tracksuits in Benetton-esque bright colours, Pangaia uses bio-based, recycled fibers in every collection. Plus, with each product sold, a tree is either planted, protected or restored. Branded as a ‘materials science company,’ this eco-driven brand has already gained notable hip hop fans including Future and Pharrell Williams.
Shop The Look:
Pangaia womenswear: https://thepangaia.com/collections/women-new-in
Pangaia menswear: https://thepangaia.com/collections/men-new-in
For hip hop artists and fans alike, sneaker culture has always been an important part of self-expression. Two of the biggest players in this market are undoubtedly longtime rivals: Nike and Adidas. Both, in recent years, have stepped up their sustainability efforts to promote long-term solutions to their relative impacts on the environment.
For Nike – this step also comes with a commitment to zero carbon and zero waste. Acknowledging the global production footprint of their products and pledging to significantly reduce their emissions, Nike have overhauled their manufacturing ecosystem from design to shop floor. The flagship shoes that promote this message are the iconic Nike Flyknit and Nike Air, now made with recycled plastic bottles for 60% less waste. Both styles combine sustainable cotton with recycled polyester to ensure they are biodegradable and less harmful to the environment, and the retail giant recently announced the launch of 9 new sustainable styles this year including more Air Force 1 and Air Max styles.
At Adidas, the focus is on Primeblue, a new polyester material made from recycled plastic collected at beaches and coastal communities in an effort to help clean up the ocean. In partnership with eco-warriors Parley For The Oceans, the sportswear brand has released shoes, accessories and clothing spun solely with Primeblue and promises to further integrate their sustainable efforts through their supply chain. In 2021 this includes working on new innovations such as the Futurecraftloop shoe that allows for a full recycling ecosystem.
While runways are generally cyclical in nature with trends repeating themselves every few years, certain statement pieces can never be truly re-released with the same impact they once had. Think: Tommy Hilfiger’s tri-coloured sportswear (as seen on Aaliyah) and Chanel’s logo-mania (a Lil Kim favourite), both of which made their way into the wardrobes of some of the most iconic hip-hop artists of their time.
Rather than shop reproduced, homages to these zeitgeist-led trends elevate your wardrobe with vintage styles from the era itself. Shopping vintage helps to promote a culture of reuse-and-repair, which directly impacts landfills and the health of the environment. Whether you’re looking for museum-worthy designer pieces or just want to relive teenage heydays in worn Levis and old-school Adidas, second-hand outlets are a treasure trove of hidden fashion gems.
Shop The Look:
Designer duds: https://www.vestiairecollective.com/
Second-hand scores: https://www.farfetch.com/uk/shopping/women/pre-owned-1/items.aspx
Sneaker resell heaven: https://stockx.com/sneakers
Retro sportswear and old-school jeans: https://www.rokit.co.uk/