|Video NewsHour's Hip-Hop report|
go with designer t-shirts.
are coming back in style
in your closet? Do you have Tommy on your back and Timbers on your toes?
Are you all about FUBU? If so, you are not alone. Teens from Indiana to
Tokyo are wearing clothes inspired by hip-hop culture.
Hip-hop style: 20 years in the making.
In the late seventies, a new and distinctive sound arose from the streets of New York. The sound was hip-hop, and nearly twenty years later, it has transcended the street parties and music clubs of New York to become a worldwide cultural force.
Simply put, hip-hop music consists of a DJ mixing rhythmic passages of albums on a turntable while a rapper raps over the beats. But hip-hop is a culture unto itself, equipped with its own language, lyrical style, visual arts (graffiti), dance moves and look.
Although hip-hop is the musical outgrowth of urban African-American culture, its popularity is not bound by geography or culture. According to Soundscan, the company that charts record sales, three-quarters of all hard-core rap albums were sold to white consumers in 1994.
Furthermore, more and more suburban teens, taking their cue from their urban counterparts, have adopted the style and the trends of hip-hop's artists and its adherents.
From city, to suburbs and beyond...
Baggy pants, oversized athletic
jerseys, expensive sneakers, long a fashion standard of the hip-hop
community, have become the unofficial uniform of suburban fans. And
thanks to music videos, films and hip-hop magazines, teens in the suburbs
and outside the U.S. can stay informed with "what's going on" in the
Clothes + Music= Fashion
Fashion and music have enjoyed a creative relationship in the past, just think of The Grateful Dead and hippies in the 60s, disco in the 70s and Madonna in the 80s. Often big-name fashion designers are the last to jump on the boat.
It took almost 20 years for the mainstream fashion industry to experiment with hip-hop fashions. Critics claim that the fashion industry's sudden interest in hip-hop stems more from the enormous profit potential of this untapped market of brand conscious consumers than from any creative interest. But whatever its reasons may be, big and small players in the mainstream fashion industry are looking toward the hip-hop community for inspiration.
| Long before big fashion
companies paid any attention to hip-hop, small independent fashion designers
clothed the hip-hop community through local retail stores. According to
Brian McDaniels, co-owner of Uncle Ralph's, a hip-hop clothing store located
in Brooklyn, these young designers tend to be more in tune with hip-hop
A lot of the young designers that Uncle Ralph's features not only design the clothing but they also make it themselves. Most of them "are moonlighting as designers - it is their dream," McDaniels explained. And once a style becomes popular, it makes it easier for these designers to either form their own company or design clothing for an established firm. JNCO wide-leg jeans are an example of two young designers, Milo and Jacques Revah, with a unique vision (jeans you can slip over your head) that changed the look on streets all over the world.
It is these young fashion designers that, as McDaniels explained, "are closest to the street" and thus "know what is going on" within the hip-hop community. For that reason, Uncle Ralph's mainly features the clothing lines of these designers, who are typically between the ages of 18-25.
In addition to selling these designers' clothes, Uncle Ralph's holds a fashion show twice a year. "We like to go with the underdogs," McDaniels explained, "because when the underdog becomes the top dog, we can grow with them." As McDaniels sees it, "those who get to big lose touch with what's real."
Tommy Hilfiger courts the rap world.
But not all big fashion designers lack credibility with the hip-hop community. Tommy Hilfiger, in particular, has achieved unparalleled success with the hip-hop community by bridging the gap between urban cool and classic preppy. His clothing has been worn by a virtual "who's who" in the world of hip-hop. Everyone from Snoop Doggy Dogg to KRS-One have donned Tommy gear, while other rap artists, like Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest, have praised his clothing in their music.
Besides the bright colors and baggy fit of his clothing line, Tommy Hilfiger's success in the hip-hop community also may be attributed to aggressive marketing and foresight. While most of the big fashion designers were ignoring the hip-hop world, Tommy Hilfiger courted its most prominent rappers and showered them with apparel. His moment of triumph came when Snoop Doggy Dogg performed on Saturday Night Live in 1994, dressed from head to toe in Tommy clothing. Snoop's performance exposed Tommy Hilfiger to a national audience, and according to industry estimates, Tommy Hilfiger sales increased $90 million dollars that year.
But, perhaps, the greatest example of hip-hop's acceptance amongst the mainstream can be seen at the White House, where a hip-hop Santa, clothed by Tommy Hilfiger, hangs from the Christmas tree. Hip-hop has definitely come a long way from the Bronx street parties of the seventies.
it's cool to have your hat
match your shirt.
designed by Tommy Hilfiger.