As a huge fan of MTV, I’d recall my 90’s with music influences like TLC and Aliyah accompanied by urban fashion or what is better known as hip-hop fashion with females wearing brightly colored sportswear (sweatpants paired with a loose shirt bearing the abs or a sports bra), heels or sometimes Adidas sports shoes and a lot of bling.
Though hip-hop and R&B songs were in demand, back then urban fashion was less appreciated. Hip-hop style was still raw and a little rough – chunky chains, diamond rocks (bling), boxers-bearing, loose pants, and jersey shirts were in style for men while gold, hoop (door-knocker) earrings, sweat pants and sports bra make up the 90′s urban style for women. The African-American youth inspired fashion was famed by hip-hop and R&B artists like Left Eye of TLC, Aliyah, Snoop Dogg, Ja Rule and much more.
Before the hip-hop scene in the 90’s, urban style began two decades prior to what most of us recall as the emerging hip-hop culture.
A quick look at the history of Urban Fashion
While Urban Fashion dates back to the Late 70′s with brands like Le Coq, Sportif, Kangol, Adidas and Pro-Keds linking themselves to the growing hip-hop scene, during the 80′s, brightly colored designer label tracksuits, leather bomber jackets, Converse chuck-taylor sneakers , Adidas’ “phat” oversized shoelaces and for accessories, oversized eyeglasses, bucket hats, name plates, name belts, and multiple rings were the in trend, in the early 90′s Celebrity star, Will Smith’s hi-top fade hair do as seen on The Fresh Prince was the cool do and then later toward the late 90′s, higher end designer label clothing such as Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Gucci mink coats and track suits were introduced by P. Diddy and R. Kelly – to name a few, ultimately delivering hip-hop fashion into mainstream street style.
Urban fashion among the wealthy and elite crowd took cues from gangsters of the 1930’s to the 1940’s; the Mafioso-look as seen on The Godfather and Scarface were huge fashion inspirations in the urban culture amongst the elite. Sean Combs then termed this look the “ghetto fabulous” fashion.
Urban fashion trends quickly found its way into the new generation (2000s) and evolved constantly, continuing the ‘balla’ type image for men – baggy clothes and more bling. At this time, urban fashion was then accepted and advertised by many big-name celebrities and hip-hop artists who wore designer brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci making it easier for urban fashion to settle into society. These brands were significantly promoted as hip-hop fashion was defined as a ‘better way of life’. While the rebirth of previous urban trends emerged, there were also new hip-hop clothing labels that came into the scene like Bathing Ape, popularized by artist and producer, Pharell; On the other hand, women wore high-heels and open-toe booties, as seen in J. Lo’s music videos.
Since then, urban fashion became increasingly popular –let’s not forget the importance of hair styles for women – the asymmetrical hair cut with a contemporary spin and the half-shaven head popularized by music sensations like Rihanna, Cassie and Kelis. Once again, the resurgence of Adidas track jackets and fashion scarves came into the hip-hop scene, certainly nothing new to old-school hip-hop fashionistas.
Urban fashion has become widespread adopting other types of fashion like Skateboarding fashion that became relevant in 2010 including hair accessories like bonnets, knit-caps, fitted pants and shorts; brands like Vans, Supreme, Stussy, Adidas Supra. Nike SB, (Skateboarding), Circa, DC, RDS, and Emericas which were then massively promoted by music artists and style icons like Chris Brown and Lil Wayne as seen on their music videos.
To this day, urban fashion has revived previous fads and evolved the once predominantly ghetto trend into a more refined, distinctive sense of style that still manages to complement the expression and attitude of the old age hip-hop culture in general. The combination of contemporary trends with the modern style of today’s generation (Gen-X) provides us a wider selection of not-so-ordinary, unique, individual style tailored to suit your personality.
The urban fashion style of today
Now more than ever, urban fashion is widely embraced all over the world- first starting from the Bronx to suburban to big cities like the big apple- New York, L.A, and adapted first by the Mexican-Latin culture (as seen with J. Lo’s fashion taste) then with Americans (like American rapper, Eminem) following and then later on spreading worldwide, urban or hip-hop fashion has become a prominent part of today’s fashion culture. You can find the hottest streetwear clothing at many stores online. 1 to mention is Karmaloop.com, karmaloop is one of the largest online retailers of urban fashion. Not only do they provide an amazing shopping experience but they offer the best discount for clothing. Their Karmaloop promo code will give you an average of 20% off, combine another Karma loop coupon and you get even more savings!
Over time, urban fashion has tremendously transitioned into what is now largely known as ‘street style’; mixing the old, contemporary with the new age, modern and tweaking it to your own, authentic personal sense of style. There is not one specific style in this classification as urban fashion offers us with a variety of styles coming from different cultures. The rebirth of urban fashion is fresh, young and adventurous, for today’s generation fittingly defines urban street wear as it is. With women artists like Rihanna and Beyonce and men artists like Chris Brown, urban fashion has dominated the scene once again – this time, bigger and a lot better.
As fashion and style continue to change over time, female hip-hop artists spoke of and promoted sex appeal through fashion, gaining exposure to boost their careers while conforming to certain images to remain relevant in the masses and society.
In a society where men dominated over women, females placed their best efforts to equal themselves with male icons- in a subtle but strong way, through the voice of fashion. Since urban fashion has ultimately morphed to become sexually appealing and irresistibly attractive, women obtained more offers in several areas of society including the arts (music, movies and television) which was later on followed by the perception to express one’s self freely, through different aspects most importantly, through fashion. Urban fashion has paved the way and became the means to express and promote one’s self freely.
Today, as we speak of, most of our clothing influences relate to urban fashion – bright, vivid colors, scarf-like prints and patterns, an overdose of layers of accessories, fur-lined slip-ons and boots, Harlem pants, the modernly-tweaked bandeau, bejeweled clothing and much more are all linked to yesteryear’s urban fashion.