When you say the words “streetstyle” in 2018, what comes to mind are sneakers, Adidas, track pants and puffy coats — brands like Raf Simmons, Gucci, Supreme and Off White™.
The trends and brands come to mind, yes, but also people like A$AP Rocky and the A$AP mob, Travis Scott, Lil Yachty, the Migos and Rihanna do as well. Influencers like Luka Sabbat and Ian Connor, who are simultaneously involved with heavy hitting fashion brands and influential rappers. You think street style and you don’t just think of models off-duty, you think of the rappers and influencers who are wearing and promoting these clothes.
When did hip-hop and style become synonymous? How have these two become so intertwined and symbiotic? Limited release collaborations like Off White™ and Nike’s reimagining of classic sneaker styles, Pharrell Williams and Adidas or even Supreme’s collaboration with Louis Vuitton have garnered more hype than the Birkin Bag.
Long before the likes of Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid were walking the streets of New York in “ugly” chunky grandpa sneakers and track pants, hip-hop icons like RUN DMC and LL Cool Jay were the first to wear them. It’s easy to look at current hip-hop culture and see the inspiration drawn from the ‘90s and early 2000s. Marc Jacobs’ fall 2017 women’s show offered us a stripped-down runway filled with models in tracksuits, thick gold chains, retro coats and headwear.
He told the LA Times he drew his inspiration from two main things: the 2016 Netflix documentary “Hip-Hop Evolution,” which focuses on the rise of the genre from the ‘70s through the 1990s, as well as his childhood memories from New York.
While personal style has long held a certain level of social capital in the hip-hop community, artists weren’t looking for a place in the luxury fashion world until recently. At the basis of the music genre itself is this idea of attitude, a swagger, an unquestionable confidence. This has always closely translated into how artists present themselves, mixing high- and low-end clothing, the eccentric with the minimalistic. The idea of the remix and sense of “anything goes” that can be heard in the music is seen on the artists themselves.
The jump of these elements into what transformed into street style is due to multiple factors. The rise of the music genre itself and artists having more visibility, and the age of the internet where users feel pressure to stand out, to portray a certain image, they use fashion as something that says, “Hey I’m here, and I look better than all of you”. In an interview with street style blog and magazine HypeBeast, Virgil Abloh – the all creative force behind street style Off-White™ as well as close friend and stylist for Kanye West — comments on the biggest element of this transition. “I think they’re [hip-hop and fashion] having a conversation, which is, first and foremost, the most important part. The way I see it, brands are starting to have a new type of dialogue with the customer. The customer, the public in general, has a lot more knowledge. They’re a lot more discerning. Being a designer now means something different than being a designer the previous generation.”
In Abloh’s opinion, it’s this open discussion between the two worlds that’s caused this shift into the luxury fashion world. It’s conversations like these that lead to A$AP Rocky creative directing for Dior Homme, or Rihanna turning her Fenty X Puma line into a legitimate and independent fashion label that’s shown twice at Paris Fashion Week and most recently in New York Fashion Week.