Fashion is part and parcel of hip hop culture, and changes in fashion trends is connected to the music and life. The following clothing brands did more than sell clothing: they defined hip hop itself, which is not a small thing. Look over our list of the top ten hip hop clothing brands and see for yourself which deserves its place in the list. And heck, maybe its time for a throwback Thursday portion in your wardrobe!
10. Mitchell and Ness
When Michael Jordan became practically the biggest sports star in the world during the nineties, the hip hop music scene picked up and musicians from around the world took basketball into their identity. Mitchell and Ness garnered respect in reproducing basketball jerseys and pretty soon enough, they started making other sportswear. Until today, the brand has been meeting demands for hip hop fans who wanted to express their passion for sports, the regions they represent and of course, hip hop music.
9. Sean John, Karl Kani, Phat Farm,
Many of these brands eventually became bankcrupt, but still the marks they made in the hip hop scene is unprecedented. Kanye sported Karl Kani one time in his career and these brands seemed to have predicted the eventual dominance of high fashion in hip hop in the 2000s.
8. Nike and Reebok
During the nineties, when someone tells you to get yourself some kicks, you do not go anywhere except a Nike or Reebok store. Nike and Reebok’s slick design made waves when jerseys were also popular, and this is for no reason. You do not know when you will be chilling or rolling or going to some spontaneous decision to play ball with the hood.
Unless you live as a corporate junkie driving from home to work to home in a Jaguar, you certainly wouldn’t wear your bling everyday even if you are only out to buy soda. That is the reason why labels like Stussy, categorized under the wide group of ‘streetwear,’ became insanely popular during the late nineties, especially among the suburban youths. You have to present yourself in the best possible form, but if you do not want to look like a total show-off, that Stussy hoodie is perfect for that 3 AM hang-out.
6. Levis, Lee, Guess, denim brands
Jeans is a staple subculture wear, worn from the 60s until today in its skinny ‘jerkin’ form. But when Levis and Guess started their ‘baggy pants/ elephants’ fashion line in the nineties, a lot of hip hop artists and youth fans started to fill their closets with baggy jeans. Today baggy pants are considered has-been, but Levi’s, Lee and other denim brands remain one of the top hip hop labels that everybody has to score one to complete their get-up.
5. Alpha Industries and Carharrt
One can only admire how hip hop culture can assimilate seemingly far-fetched brands as its own, as what happened to military-inspired labels like Alpha Industries and Carharrt. Carharrt’s harsh but utilitarian design caught interest among hip hop enthusiasts. Who would’nt sport an Alpha hoodie? Military and hip hop: the irony is riveting, and ultimately a funk.
4. Gucci, Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, and Prada
The charm of these labels are inexplicable. Erik B and Rakim and known to be sporting Gucci in some of their videos, and especially a lot of the hotter female hip hop artists. Unreasonably expensive, glamorous, if not insanely so, getting yourself a wear from one of these brands is a sign of high life and is sure to get one a lot of respect.
3. Timberland, NorthFace, other outdoors brands
There are certainly no trees or mountains in the suburbs, so explaining why Timberland, NorthFace and other brands meant for outdoors adventures piqued the interest of many hip hop artists is difficult. Perhaps thug life requires any player to be tough, and being tough requires tough clothing, one that would withstand constant racing against the cops. Or perhaps a simpler explanation would suffice: outdoorsman clothing is just plain cool, period.
2. ‘Madison Avenue Movement’
Big names like the Nautica, United Colors of Benetton, Tommy Hilfiger, Abercrombie & Fitch and Donna Karan can be lumped together as one holding the greater respect among hip hop artists with regards to clothing. These brands are being flagged in a lot of videos and public events by the most successful musicians like Snoop Dogg and the Wu-Tang Clan. Aside from the hipness of design, clothing lines under the Madison Avenue Movement are known for innovation over the ever-changing demands of the public’s taste and within hip hop circles.
1. Polo Ralph Lauren
Hip hop and the high life became bedfellows when Polo Ralph Lauren came into the scene. Prominent hip hop artists like Jay-Z and Kanye West became the object of admiration (and envy) for many who live in hard day to day street life. With Polo Ralph Lauren taking on the symbol of success, comfort and luxury, ‘living the American dream,’ they dominate the hip hop fashion scene since their inception and is poised to remain at the top for years to come.
What do you think of our list? Do some brands needs some mentioning? What are you wearing today? Let’s talk about it in the comment section below. We need to talk!