Hip-hop culture has been a major catalyst for what we know as ‘street style’. Dressing up for the streets is what hip-hop style is about, passionately expressing life through music and fashion. Camille Adomakoh uncovers a few of the artists who outline rap star style’s unstoppable momentum.
Drake represents the new breed of rapper, whose career has propelled him to superstar status in just six years. At the start, he made no real style statement—his standout then was hip-hop’s faithful footwear, the Timberland boot, which has since taken a back seat to his OVO Air Jordans.
Upon analysis, his newfound image is very reminiscent of Kanye West’s. Drake’s signature look of late has been black… and lots more black, in the form of an oversized tee and slouchy-skinny jeans from his own clothing line and lifestyle brand OVO. It suits his new gym-conscious body, and gives him ease of movement on stage. Champagne Papi has finally found his style groove.
Kanye is an interesting one, a rap superstar whose career spans over 15 years. His style of hip-hop was seen as an alternative to ‘Gangster rap’ and his aesthetic mirrors this. From his preppy ‘The College Dropout’ days, to his skirt-wearing Hurricane Sandy relief concert performance, to the present, in oversize tees and slouchy-skinnys teamed with his latest Yeezy Boost Adidas sneakers that kids are clamouring to buy.
His real standout is his outspoken criticism of the fashion industry and systems he is an intrinsic part of. Like or loathe him, he is currently using his powerful voice to speak out against injustices towards… himself! Of course, it’s all about him.
Time will tell if he does make it into the White House… taking one big Yeezy step at a time, and America’s No.1 reality-show family the Kardashians along for the ride.
Rap mogul Sean John Combs is undisputedly one of hip-hop’s fashion greats. His music label Bad Boy, along with mega-stylists such as June Ambrose, created the 90s/Noughties era’s ‘Ghetto Fabulous’ style; he and his artists wearing the flashiest, shiniest, most ostentatious designer labels against the backdrop of their ‘hood’ and to the soundtrack of some of the best RnB/Hip-hop tunes to date.
Style comes naturally to Diddy. His label Sean John, established in 1998, is now firmly cemented within fashion industry portals, and is a multi-million dollar business. His style has evolved and changed—along with his multiple stage names!
Diddy’s standout is his ‘swagger’—his sartorial showmanship is one that very few can authentically replicate.
Let’s go back, way back to the days of B-boys and Fly-girls, to this iconic group of the 80s. The no-lace shell toe Adidas Superstars sneakers were the standout for Run-DMC. They even made the hit song ‘My Adidas’ about them on their groundbreaking 1986 Raising Hell album.
They brought a new aesthetic to the mainstream with their shell suits, Kangols and chunky gold chains (a hip-hop signifier of African heritage and wealth). Gold is having a renaissance with Kanye West, Jay Z and Nas bringing the look back to new generations.
Thirty years on, this style has never left the streets, or the catwalks. The mass appeal of sneaker culture and sportswear cool is universal among the young, old, rich and poor. Corporates and independents are fully aware of this timeless, winning formula.
Hip-hop’s huge impact and legacy is what we admire greatly; inspiring us to always design with the bigger, longer-term picture in mind… And in turn, build our own legacy.