February 7, 2022No Comments

Legacy: Virgil Abloh

Virgil was a man that influenced many industries indefinitely! As the world pays tribute to Virgil, Culture Shift looks back at just 10 of the moments from his career. 

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October 27, 2021No Comments

The Problem With Music Festivals: Vibes Of Appropriation

History, culture and art surround us daily but it isn't every day we’re at a music festival. It's been the topic of discussion for years and boundaries are still being crossed. So why is rich history and culture still being appropriated at music festivals? 

Drinks, check. Ticket, check. Outfit made from stolen culture, check. With the festival season coming to a close the topics of discussions are the same as it's been for years. No change and certainly not much improvement. It's easy to put on an outfit and follow trends without thinking about where its origin. This is where it's easy to be a villain of cultural appropriation.

Cultural Appropriation vs Cultural Appreciation

There's a fine line between appropriation and appreciation but where the defining point belongs is respect, education and acceptance. If you are wearing a bindi to a music festival you are taking a style with cultural significance and placing it in your culture without ode or respect for its original cultural reference/placement. If you are to wear a bindi to an Asian friend's wedding you are taking their culture, using it in cultural respect and placement and taking part in the culture. It's a simple question: Am I wearing this with respect to its original culture? And am I wearing this in a culturally appropriate scenario? If you’re ever unsure if your fashion choices are culturally appropriate simply don't wear it at all, you have to do the hard work, it's not about asking permission but having a conversation that informs you about your choice and the roots.

Fashion & Festivals

Fashion has been the culprit of appropriation for years. We’ve seen it on the catwalk, within music videos and now on the high street. And despite the harsh call-out culture of the 21st century, fashion seems to be making daily mistakes. It isn't just companies to blame, it's the consumer too. Some things weren’t meant for YOU to buy and wear and that's okay. So to make it easier Culture Shift has made a list of what not to wear and what to wear instead!

NOPE, TAKE THAT OFF!

Native Indian Headdresses:

Image Credits: I Use To Be A Highschool Feminist

Yes, they’re colourful and full of culture, which is beautiful in itself but definitely not meant to be part of your festival outfit. Worn by most natives of North America, these spectacular headpieces are often made from horsehair, porcupine and animal feathers. They were popular on the battlefields and most tribes have speciality colours, shapes and materials. And besides, I’m not sure native ancestors would appreciate yesterday's cheeseburger and fries all over their culture headdress.

Black Hairstyles

Image Credits: Adele Instagram

After years of appropriation, black hairstyles are finally getting the appreciation they deserve. We’re nearly there in wiping out appropriation of black culture but at this year's festivals many attended with braids, hair jewels and certain hairstyles only to be worn by the black community. We’ve seen appropriation on runways, high street brands and all across social media in the past century so by now it should be clear what to wear and what to avoid. But let's make it clear: No cornrows, no box braids and no Bantu knots. These hairstyles do however have exceptions (for appreciation purposes only). Take Adele for example. Her IG post of missing the days of Carnival and posing in her Bantu knots got some backlash but her intention was appreciation rather than appropriation. She was knee-deep in Jamaican culture, got her Knots done by a local hairstylist and danced the night away, and this is where the difference is clear.

Bindis

Image Credits: Junkee

A historical and cultural symbol of India and Southeastern Asia. The bindi is jewels, make-up and studs of the face often used for wedding ceremonies and religious holidays. Over the years, wearing jewels and face tattoos to festivals have become more and more popular. With high street brands such as ASOS, Newlook and Boots selling sets and marketing them around the festival season it's no surprise that the bindi is now an overused sight of summer days. With no cultural recognition whatsoever the bindi is the latest and most popular trend and continues to become a huge victim of appropriation.

Bucket Hats, Print Shirts & Side Pouches

We saw it from Alex at Glasto and pretty much the entire 2019 and 2021 festival season. The Air Max, baggy and grimey style is an ode to early Grime and Garage days, a little controversial when you’re at a techno festival. With the popularity of the BAFTA-winning show “People Just Do Nothing'', particular to the mockumentary style of comedy you'll see people taking on their own parody of this style. Smart wear like Patterned Moschino was the uniform that came out of 2Step and Garage - strangely enough, loafers, smart trousers and even a sports jacket were the go-to ensembles. As this evolved into Grime the footwear became more comfortable and as the tempo increased you would ditch loafers for Nike TNs, the smart trousers for shorts, especially in clubs abroad (think Spain, Cyprus etc).

Add in the styles of 90s rave Bucket hats, from EDM culture and baggies in bum bags it's no wonder we have the style we do today that resembles our friend Alex. The difference between Alex and general festival-goers is the love for the culture and the music - to literally know bar-for-bar and go absolutely ape shit when your favourite riddim is played. This is the art of posing, you’re either a real one or just a manakin. We all know a charlatan when we see one. 

OKAY, THIS WILL BE BETTER 

Hair Accessories 

Okay, hear us out... We know you probably wore this to a 2011 One Direction concert but pick the right hairstyle and glitter colour to fit your outfit and away we go. It's cheap, easy to do and looks great all day. Yes, it might take out 3-4 washes to get out but a minor inconvenience at best. Pair with french braids, space buns or a simple down style, will the glitter look take over the festivals of 2022?

French Braids

If you didn't sit around your whole lunchtime in secondary school braiding people's hair like this then you simply weren’t ‘cool.’ They stay out all day, good with all lengths of hair and most importantly belong to white and European culture! Add glitter for that extra sparkle or add some hair jewels if you please. 10/10 for comfort and creativity.

Face Glitter 

Photo Credits: IStock

A fan of the 2015 Tumblr rainbow or not, face glitter has been used since the birth of festivals and goes back to the peace & love movement of the ’60s. Yet again the perfect colour match for any outfit, the only downside is you may have to apply every few hours but definitely worth the attraction. Pair with a colour-contrasting eyeshadow, neon top and some matching trainers. A definite summer looks for next year. 

Power Suits 

Now I know what you’re thinking, straight leg polycotton trousers and a tightly fitted blazer. No Clark Kent shit but definitely his alter ego Superman. Your Thor hammer may not make it through security but you can jump the queue with those drunken superpowers and by the time you make it to the stage you'll get a rush of power. So why not make your outfit a little more fun and wear your Spiderman, Tinker Bell and Aquaman outfit and even reuse it at Halloween?

What needs to be done: 

We know things need to change but ultimately the chance is you, me and us. Cultural appropriation doesn’t seem to be sailing off anytime soon but to make its stay shorter we can start by making conscious fashion decisions. Ask yourself those key questions, leave room for education and think twice before leaving the house. We have a whole cold winter ahead of us and plenty of time to plan next year's festival fits. Let's make sure it's one that feels right and belongs to YOU.

July 29, 2021No Comments

How hip-hop and fashion struggle with masculinity

Men's fashion has been the continuous shadow of women's fashion for centuries. The stereotypes of men and fashion are smart, intelligent and practical rather than that of women which are considered decorative, impractical and pretty.

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April 22, 2021No Comments

Sustainable Shopping: How To Recreate Iconic Hip Hop Outfits

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.

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April 15, 2021No Comments

From Billionaire Boys Club To Bionic Yarn; How Pharrell Williams Is Creating Impact.

From hit songs to business ventures in fashion, property and skincare the recently turned 48-year-old Pharrell Williams is transitioning his 90s hip-hop bad boy image to something profitable and spectacular. Behind the scenes his investment and business portfolio growing to be impressive.

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March 17, 2021No Comments

How Yeezys Pivoted From Cult Drop To Commercial Darling

Now that everyone can buy one of the most-googled shoes on the planet…will anyone actually want to?

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November 12, 2020No Comments

How Female Rappers Became 2020s Hottest Brand Ambassadors

cardi b, megan thee stallion, saweetie brand ambassadors 2020

Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion and Saweetie. Images: Instagram

While women in Hip-Hop have been dominating the global charts (and headlines) for decades, marketable ambassadorship roles have historically been reserved for a different breed of celebrity - mostly white, mostly actresses or pop singers and mostly with a squeaky-clean public record. In the last few years, notable improvements to this lack of inclusive representation have been made (Rihanna for Dior, Beyoncé for Adidas) but 2020 has seen a more palpable shift in the push for brand diversity. This year, three multi-million pound companies tapped some of the most successful women in rap (Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion and Saweetie respectively), to represent their businesses at a global scale. A move that not only celebrates the commercially-successful careers of these female rappers but also openly recognizes the power of their international influence. Scroll down to read more about these game-changing appointments…

 

Cardi B & Balenciaga

Campaign Launch: September 2020 

 

cardi b for balenciaga

Cardi B for Balenciaga A/W20. Image: Balenciaga

“I like those Balenciagas, the ones that look like socks” Cardi B famously rapped in her 2017 hit ‘I Like It’ and fast-forward three years later – the 27-year old is now the first celebrity face of the luxury label in five years. Announced via two giant billboards next to the Louvre museum in Paris, Cardi’s campaign sees her in a form-fitting black dress – true to her own personal style – with a nod to motherhood as she lays down surrounded by children’s toys. Shot during lockdown, the campaign also separately features some of the House’s internal creative team who styled and photographed themselves in the collection, but Cardi’s appointment is by far the most publicized, and headline-worthy imagery.  

 

Megan Thee Stallion & Revlon 

Campaign Launch: August 2020

megan thee stallion revlon campaign

Megan The Stallion, Revlon's new Global Brand Ambassador. Image: Revlon

2020 may not have been a celebratory year for most but for Megan Thee Stallion, it’s undoubtedly one of her best yet. Boasting a number one hit with her Cardi-collab single ‘WAP,’ the Texas-based artist also won Best Female Hip-Hop Artist at the BETs and was revealed as the newest Global Brand Ambassador for iconic makeup label Revlon. The first female rapper in the brand’s history to ever hold this title, the news was announced on Instagram, where Megan proved she’s more than up for the job by insisting on doing her own makeup for the much-applauded campaign. “I feel proud,” the rapper told Allure magazine shortly after the announcement was revealed. “I’ve loved Revlon products since I was a kid, and the company has a history that’s real close to my heart.”

 

Saweetie & Pretty Little Thing

Campaign Launch: June 2020

 

saweetie for pretty little thing

Saweetie X Pretty Little Thing. Image: Pretty Little Thing

PLT has worked with a notable roster of reality stars and Insta-models over the years but historically, these partnerships have purely centered around a single capsule collaboration. This year, the e-commerce retailers reached out to ‘Icy Girl’ rapper Saweetie for a partnership deal with a more admirable goal in mind – raising money for Black Lives Matter. Launched in June as many BLM protests were taking place worldwide, 100% of all profits from the 48-piece ‘At Home With Saweetie’ collection were directly donated to blacklivesmatter.org. In a statement, the UK-based brand not only acknowledged Saweetie's drive to raise awareness for this cause, but also how the actions of brands during this time needed to be a force for change. “PrettyLittleThing understands how important it is to speak up, step up and take action. We are committed to implementing positive change and giving a voice to our community. Therefore we will be donating all proceeds from the At Home With Saweetie collection to Black Lives Matter. Because we know, we’re always stronger, together.”

 

Hip-Hop's unquestionable influence on fashion was recognized way before 2020, check out some of the most notable catwalk homage's from the 90s and beyond: https://cultureshiftuk.com/hip-hop-influences-fashion-designers/

October 22, 20201 Comment

How Hip-Hop Continues To Influence Fashion Designers

Hip Hop Influenced Fashion Designers Kanye Tupac Louis Vuitton Versace

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

 

Fashion designers inspired by hip hop trends Aaliyah Tommy Hilfiger

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.

 

fashion designers influenced by hip hop logos burberry versace louis vuitton

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  

 

hip hop influencing fashion designers tom ford burberry marc jacobs

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 

 

Hip Hop Inspiring fashion designers Gucci Dapper Dan

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/

 

 

October 12, 20202 Comments

FRONT COVER: Get To Know Japanese Tastemaker ‘Nigo’

Photo Credit: Hypebeast

If you like to think of yourself as a fashionista when it comes to the hottest street style and pop culture, you probably already know of Nigo. As a designer with his finger on the pulse, Nigo brings the freshest looks to fashion-conscious shoppers from all four corners of the globe. So naturally, we want to get to know him a little better.

Inspiration

Often dubbed a visionary, a tastemaker or the god of culture, Nigo has carved a legacy for himself through decades of hard work, revolutionary designs and becoming the go-to designer for the most prominent hip-hop artists of the time. Before streetwear was even considered luxury, he was already doing it. 

So, where did the inspiration to create brands that became synonymous with streetwear and the culture come from? As a devout hip-hop addict, much of his inspiration came from music. At 16, Nigo would venture into Tokyo to shop for the latest records at a shop called Cisco before saving up enough to buy his first set of turntables. Taking inspiration from the icons on the record sleeves, the aspiring DJ started dressing like his icons, including LL Cool J, The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy. 

Nigo, born Tomoaki Nagao began his fashion career at Tokyo's seminal Bunka Fashion College. While studying at Bunka Fashion College, he swapped his sleepy hometown of Gunma for the neon lights, late-night bars and streets of Tokyo – here he found his real education. As he made connections and formed friendships, he met Jun Takahashi and the so-called "Godfather of Harajuku" Hiroshi Fujiwara. 

Nigo later remarked that he learned "zero" from Bunka, crediting meeting Jun as the most important thing he took from his time at the college. With the help of Hiroshi, Nigo and Jun later went on to form NOWHERE.

How it all began

Adopting a tactic of rarity propelled the brand into success, with production runs only ever fulfilling 10 per cent of demand. A decision that would turn out to be an incredibly shrewd move. Fast forward a couple of years and the likes of Biggie and Mo.Wax's James Lavelle were repping the brand; it became increasingly popular and rightly so. Thanks to revolutionary designs, exclusivity and the support of hip-hop legends, Nigo had truly earned his stripes in the fashion world.

The creation of the BAPE STA sneaker

With BAPE growing year on year, Nigo turned his attention to creating the BAPE STA, which would become a must-have for sneakerheads all over the world. While the word iconic is flung around too often in the fashion industry, there's no denying BAPE influenced streetwear products for years to come. 

Of course, any sneakerhead will be able to see several similarities between Nigo's BAPE STA and Nike's Air Force 1. The difference? The BAPE STA was ahead of its time in the early '00s. While the Air Force 1 was originally a basketball shoe, Nigo had the foresight to pair the athletic silhouette with vivid colourways and features – something Nike had never done. As a result, Nigo had successfully created a streetwear must-have. So, while some may argue that the BAPE STA was a rip off of the classic Nike sneakers, many believe it was more of a nod of respect.

The end of an era

With the BAPE STA and the entire brand growing in popularity, Nigo would go on to collaborate with the likes of Pepsi and MAC. 

In the early '00s, a significant ally was Pharrell Williams. As Pharrell began to shape the face of hip-hop, his love of BAPE helped to grow the brand. As the pair became closer, they went on to launch two new brands, Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream. While these were official partnerships, Pharrell also became an unofficial brand ambassador for BAPE, as a slew of other rappers including Lil Wayne, A$AP Rocky and Kayne West followed suit.  

As the years went on, despite the interest in the brand, it began to lose money. After selling 90% of the brand to Hong Kong's I.T. in 2011 following nearly 20 years of success in the business, Nigo eventually exited the label in 2014.

Human Made

Human Made pop-up store, Dover Street London

Despite Nigo stepping away from BAPE in 2014, fans of his creative eye could still rock his ultra-cool designs. In 2010, not long before he sold BAPE to I.T., Nigo started up a brand he still owns today, Human Made. The new label allowed him to take his designs in a different direction, creating things he wasn't able to do with the revolutionary streetwear brand that was BAPE. 

With the help of his long-time collaborator and graphic designer, SK8THING, Human Made ventured into creating quality and authentic designs that reflected the pre-1960’s era. Much like BAPE, Human Made has blossomed into a brand that is much loved by fashion icons, including Nigo’s long-time supporter, Pharrell Williams.

How 2020 looks for Nigo

Throughout the past decade, Nigo continued to pave the way, with no signs of slowing down in 2020. After rounding out 2019 with a Human Race x Human Made collection with Pharrell and adidas, a limited-edition t-shirt drop with Futura and the announcement of a Louis Vuitton Fall 2020 capsule collection, Nigo has kept up the work rate in 2020. 

Photo Credit: Adidas Originals

January saw the year get off to a good start with a Human Made x adidas Stan Smith drop and a new adidas Originals campaign with Stormzy before Virgil Abloh revealed the LV collab with Nigo in March. Fast forward to today, and Nigo and Virgil have unveiled a second collection, which is of course, painlessly fresh. 

2020 was also the year that saw Nigo team up with Victor Victor (ran by Pop's former manager, Steven Victor) to release a Pop Smoke Capsule collection as well as joining forces with over 20 Japanese brands in a show of solidarity to support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. 

With decades of success under his belt, there's no denying Nigo is one of the most influential streetwear designers of our time. We can't wait to see what he does next.

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