To celebrate hip hop turning 50 this year, we explore the transformative influence of hip-hop on fashion, discovering how each era shaped the very fabric of our style choices.

How Hip-Hop Transformed Fashion – A Timeline

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Fashion is an ever-evolving canvas of self-expression, and few cultural movements have left as impactful a mark as hip-hop. From its humble origins in the streets of the Bronx to becoming a global phenomenon, hip-hop has redefined style, empowering individuals to embrace their identity boldly. Over the decades, this genre has not only dominated the music charts but also revolutionized the way people dress and express themselves. 

To celebrate hip hop turning 50 this year, we wanted to explore the transformative influence of hip-hop on fashion, discovering how each era shaped the very fabric of our style choices. From the birth of streetwear to the fusion of luxury and urban aesthetics, this blog delves into the key moments that have made hip-hop an unstoppable force within the world of style and culture. Let's explore the fashion revolution ignited by hip-hop and celebrate the unapologetic expression of individuality that it continues to inspire – something Innovoke strives to get behind.

1970s-1980s: The Birth of Hip-Hop Fashion

The 1970s and 1980s were transformative decades for hip-hop, not only in music but also in fashion. As the genre was taking shape in the Bronx, New York City, the streets became the runway for a new wave of style that would eventually influence fashion worldwide. 


Tracksuits became a staple in hip-hop fashion during this era. Artists and enthusiasts alike sported matching tracksuit sets in bold colors, often emblazoned with brand logos or colorful stripes down the sides. The tracksuit represented comfort, practicality, and a sense of unity among hip-hop communities.

Kangol Hats:

Kangol hats, particularly the iconic Kangol 504, became an essential accessory in hip-hop fashion. These hats were often worn at various angles, adding an element of individuality to each look. They quickly became a symbol of hip-hop's rebellious and laid-back spirit.

Adidas Superstar Sneakers:

The Adidas Superstar model took center stage in the world of hip-hop footwear. With its classic three-stripe design and rubber shell toe, the Superstar became the go-to sneaker for many hip-hop artists and fans. This sneaker choice was both fashionable and practical, reflecting the culture's roots in street life.

Oversized Jackets:

Oversized jackets were another defining trend of hip-hop fashion during this period. Whether it was leather jackets, bomber jackets, or varsity jackets, the larger-than-life silhouette exuded an air of confidence and flair.

Bucket Hats:

Bucket hats added a touch of street-smart style to hip-hop fashion. Whether they were plain or adorned with vibrant patterns, these hats became a symbol of hip-hop's rebellious spirit and love for creative expression.

The influence of hip-hop fashion from the 1970s and 1980s is undeniable, and its impact can still be felt today. The "urban" or "streetwear" aesthetic that was born in those streets has become a global phenomenon, permeating runways, red carpets, and everyday wardrobes. The fusion of comfort, self-expression, and boldness that characterized this era continues to inspire new generations of fashion enthusiasts, cementing hip-hop's position as a powerful force in the world of style and culture.

As the genre was taking shape in the Bronx, New York City, the streets became the runway for a new wave of style that would eventually influence fashion worldwide. 

1990s: The Golden Era

The 1990s marked a significant turning point for hip-hop culture and its influence on fashion. As the genre reached new heights and achieved mainstream popularity, the fashion scene evolved to reflect the diversity and creativity within the hip-hop community. Let's delve deeper into the iconic trends that defined the Golden Era of hip-hop fashion: 

Baggy Jeans:

Baggy jeans became the ultimate fashion statement during the 1990s. Artists and fans alike embraced this relaxed and comfortable style, which also held cultural significance. The baggy silhouette was seen as a rejection of traditional, restrictive fashion norms, symbolizing freedom and individuality.


The hoodie became an essential part of the hip-hop wardrobe in the '90s. Whether worn plain or with bold graphics, hoodies offered both comfort and a touch of street edge. They became synonymous with the laid-back and nonchalant attitude that characterized the era.

Baseball Caps:

Baseball caps became a go-to accessory for hip-hop enthusiasts. Often worn backward or tilted to the side, these caps added a touch of street attitude to any outfit. The caps were often adorned with sports team logos, brand emblems, or creative embroideries, becoming a canvas for personal expression.

Timberland Boots:

Timberland boots became an iconic footwear choice for both men and women in the hip-hop community. These sturdy and versatile boots not only complemented the baggy jeans and hoodies but also represented a connection to urban culture and resilience. 

"Thug Life" Look and Feminine Tomboy Style:

The 1990s saw a duality in hip-hop fashion. On one hand, artists like Tupac Shakur popularized the "Thug Life" look, characterized by bandanas, tattoo-inspired graphics, and a tough, streetwise demeanor. On the other hand, female artists like TLC and Aaliyah brought a more feminine tomboy style to the forefront, showcasing baggy clothes with a touch of sensuality.

The 1990s Golden Era of hip-hop fashion was a time of exploration and bold expression, with baggy silhouettes, hoodies, baseball caps, and Timberland boots becoming iconic staples. The era's fashion diversity mirrored the genre's ability to resonate with people from all walks of life, transcending cultural boundaries and leaving an indelible mark on the fashion industry. To this day, the influence of the 1990s on hip-hop fashion can still be felt, as these timeless trends continue to inspire contemporary streetwear and shape the way people dress and express themselves worldwide. 

Late 1990s-2000s: Bling and Luxury 

The late 1990s and early 2000s witnessed a transformation in hip-hop fashion as artists achieved unprecedented commercial success and embraced a lavish, opulent aesthetic known as "bling" culture. This era marked a shift from the streetwear-focused styles of the past to a more extravagant and ostentatious display of wealth and status. Let's explore the key elements that defined the era of bling and luxury in hip-hop fashion: 

Excessive Jewellery:

At the heart of bling culture was the emphasis on excessive jewellery. Hip-hop artists adorned themselves with extravagant diamond-encrusted chains, oversized medallions, and flashy bracelets and rings. The jewellery symbolized success, affluence, and a celebration of material wealth.

Luxury Brands and Logomania:

During this era, luxury fashion brands gained immense popularity within the hip-hop community. Logomania, characterized by prominently displaying brand logos on clothing and accessories, became a prominent trend. Brands like Gucci, Versace, Louis Vuitton, and Fendi were coveted by rappers and fans alike, elevating their status to true fashion icons.

Designer Suits:

Hip-hop artists began incorporating designer suits into their wardrobe, often in unconventional and bold colors. The juxtaposition of high-end tailored pieces with streetwear-inspired accessories was a hallmark of this era's fashion sensibility.

Statement Accessories:

Alongside the jewelry, hip-hop artists embraced other statement accessories to complete their look. Oversized sunglasses, fur coats, and luxurious handbags became must-have items for those looking to exude an aura of wealth and success.

Glamorous Music Videos:

The music videos of this era played a pivotal role in promoting bling and luxury fashion. Lavish sets, extravagant wardrobes, and opulent settings became synonymous with hip-hop visuals, further influencing fans and setting new trends.

The late 1990s and early 2000s brought a new level of opulence to hip-hop fashion, as "bling" culture took center stage. The era's celebration of excess and luxury not only influenced the music industry but also left a lasting impact on mainstream fashion. Today, the bling aesthetic remains a powerful symbol of self-expression and success within the hip-hop community and continues to inspire bold and daring fashion choices worldwide. 

2010s: Streetwear and Sneaker Culture

The 2010s marked a revolutionary era in hip-hop fashion, with streetwear rising to prominence and sneaker culture reaching unprecedented heights. This decade saw a fusion of luxury and street elements, creating a new wave of fashion that was both accessible and exclusive. Let's explore the key factors that defined the streetwear and sneaker culture of the 2010s:

Rise of Streetwear Brands:

Streetwear brands such as Supreme, Off-White, BAPE, and Palace gained immense popularity during this decade. These brands embraced graphic-heavy designs, bold logos, and limited-edition drops, creating a sense of exclusivity and urgency among fashion enthusiasts. 

High-End Streetwear Collaborations:

A defining characteristic of the 2010s was the growing trend of collaborations between streetwear brands and high-end fashion houses. Luxury brands recognized the appeal of streetwear and sought collaborations to tap into the genre's younger and more diverse audience. 

Explosive Sneaker Culture:

Sneaker culture reached a fever pitch during the 2010s, with limited-edition releases and celebrity collaborations driving sneakerheads to extreme lengths to acquire coveted pairs. Sneaker conventions and online forums became gathering places for enthusiasts to connect and share their passion. 

Celebrity-Designed Sneakers:

Hip-hop artists like Kanye West and Pharrell Williams ventured into fashion design and launched their own clothing lines, including highly sought-after sneakers. These celebrity-designed kicks became instant collectibles, appealing to both fashion and music fans alike.

Emphasis on Individuality:

Streetwear and sneaker culture of the 2010s encouraged self-expression and individuality. Mixing and matching brands, layering bold patterns, and experimenting with accessories allowed enthusiasts to curate their unique fashion identity.

The 2010s witnessed a significant shift in hip-hop fashion, with streetwear and sneaker culture becoming integral to the genre's identity. The rise of streetwear brands, high-end collaborations, and the explosive growth of sneaker culture redefined the fashion landscape and blurred the lines between luxury and street aesthetics. This era showcased the power of fashion to reflect and influence youth culture, paving the way for a new generation of style icons and setting the stage for the continued evolution of hip-hop fashion in the years to come. 

2020s: A Blend of High Fashion and Streetwear

The 2020s have ushered in a new era of hip-hop fashion, characterized by a seamless fusion of high fashion and streetwear elements. As the decade began, the distinction between luxury fashion and streetwear became increasingly blurred, resulting in a dynamic and diverse fashion landscape that caters to a wide range of tastes and preferences. Let's explore the key aspects that define the fashion scene of the 2020s: 

Blurred Lines between High Fashion and Streetwear:

The traditional boundaries between high fashion and streetwear have dissolved, with luxury fashion houses embracing streetwear aesthetics. High-end designers have incorporated urban elements such as hoodies, oversized fits, and graphic prints into their collections, blurring the lines between luxury and casual styles. 

Collaborations that Shape Fashion:

Collaborations between luxury brands and streetwear labels have become a defining feature of modern hip-hop fashion. These partnerships not only elevate the status of streetwear brands but also introduce urban aesthetics to a broader audience. The excitement surrounding these limited-edition drops has become a driving force in shaping fashion trends.

Emphasis on Comfort and Functionality:

In the 2020s, comfort and functionality have taken center stage in hip-hop fashion. Athleisure wear, characterized by comfortable and stylish activewear pieces, has become a staple in both streetwear and luxury fashion collections. This trend reflects the changing lifestyle preferences of consumers and their desire for practical, versatile clothing.

The 2020s have ushered in a new era of hip-hop fashion, characterized by a seamless fusion of high fashion and streetwear elements.

Versatility and Personal Expression:

Modern hip-hop fashion celebrates versatility and personal expression. Artists and fashion enthusiasts embrace a mix-and-match approach, combining high-end pieces with streetwear staples to create unique and authentic looks that reflect their individuality.

Sustainability and Social Consciousness:

As the fashion industry becomes increasingly aware of its impact on the environment and society, sustainability and social consciousness have become essential considerations in hip-hop fashion. Artists and consumers alike are seeking eco-friendly and socially responsible brands that align with their values.

The 2020s have redefined hip-hop fashion, embracing a harmonious blend of high fashion and streetwear aesthetics. Luxury fashion houses have embraced urban elements, while streetwear brands have expanded their influence within high-end fashion circles. Comfort, functionality, and sustainability have become integral to modern hip-hop fashion, reflecting the lifestyle and values of the contemporary generation. This era is characterized by a celebration of individuality and creativity, where style knows no boundaries and innovation thrives, propelling hip-hop fashion into a new era of limitless possibilities.

Gender-Fluid and Inclusive Fashion in Hip-Hop

Hip-hop fashion has undergone a profound transformation in recent years, embracing a more gender-fluid and inclusive approach that breaks traditional norms and fosters a more diverse range of styles and expressions. This evolution has been led by visionary artists and influencers who use their platform to challenge societal expectations and encourage authentic self-expression through clothing. Let's delve deeper into the significance and impact of gender-fluid and inclusive fashion in the hip-hop community: 

Challenging Gender Norms:

Artists like Janelle Monáe and Young Thug have been trailblazers in challenging traditional gender norms through their fashion choices. Janelle Monáe, known for her androgynous style, frequently embraces tailored suits and eccentric outfits that defy conventional gender expectations. Young Thug, on the other hand, has made headlines for his willingness to experiment with traditionally feminine clothing, including skirts and dresses. Their fearlessness in embracing their own unique styles has inspired countless others to break free from the confines of gender-specific fashion. 

Promoting Inclusivity:

Inclusive fashion within the hip-hop community extends beyond just gender fluidity. It also encompasses a celebration of diverse body types, races, and cultures. Hip-hop artists and fashion influencers are using their platforms to promote body positivity, racial diversity, and cultural representation within the industry. This movement toward inclusivity is resonating with fans worldwide, creating a more welcoming and accepting fashion environment.

Unleashing Creative Expression:

The acceptance of gender-fluid and inclusive fashion in hip-hop has liberated individuals to explore their creativity and express themselves freely through clothing. People are no longer confined to rigid fashion categories but are encouraged to mix and match styles that resonate with their identity, regardless of societal expectations.

Inspiring Fashion Forwardness:

Hip-hop's embrace of gender-fluid and inclusive fashion has had a ripple effect on the broader fashion industry. It has inspired designers and fashion houses to create more inclusive collections and challenge the norms in their runway shows. The industry's shift toward greater diversity and inclusivity aligns with the values of the contemporary generation and sets new standards for fashion-forwardness.

Hip-hop's embrace of gender-fluid and inclusive fashion has been transformative, inspiring individuals to break free from traditional norms and embrace their authentic selves. Artists like Janelle Monáe and Young Thug have paved the way for greater acceptance and diversity within the industry, fostering a more inclusive and accepting fashion environment. As hip-hop continues to adapt, evolve, and challenge societal norms, its impact on the fashion industry remains profound, reshaping global trends and inspiring new generations of designers and trendsetters to celebrate the beauty of individuality and self-expression.

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