The world of urban fashion has come a long way since its beginnings in the 1970s. Urban clothing, also known as hip hop clothing, street style or the ‘city look’ has expanded to now being created by some of the lead designers around the world. Urban fashion started in New York, New York, and then quickly after, the trend spread to other large cities, including Detroit, Los Angeles and Chicago.
When hip hop music started to become more popular in the late 1970s, listeners began following the street style fashion wear of certain popular hip hop artists. The shoe sales of brands such as Nike and Adidas began to skyrocket. Their shoes and track clothing were modeled after rap artists such as LL Cool J and Run DMC.
After street shoes had grown in popularity, so did accessories such as extra-large sunglasses, gold and silver plated necklaces and oversized earrings. Hip hop artists such as Salt-n-Pepa sported their baggy jeans, with large hooped earrings and plated jewelry. Both men and women expressed interest in the new style.
In the early 1990s, a dramatic change in colors began with respect to urban clothing. Neon and brightly colored shirts, pants, hats and accessories began to emerge. Such items of clothing were mixed and matched to create a bold look on the streets. T-shirts that looked as if they had been spray painted, or ‘tagged’ also become popular, imitating a look that projected what was actually seen on the streets.
During the mid 1990s famous hip hop artists caught on to the trend and started becoming designers for their very own lines of urban street style clothing.
Certain brands that were already established also grew in popularity, like that of Tommy Hilfiger, which was strongly represented by Puff Daddy and Snoop Dogg. FUBU jeans also started to have increased sales, thanks to Nelly and his crew.
Besides designer pieces, general articles of clothing also started to become popular. Shirts with hoods, now referred to as ‘hoodies,’ are now a staple in most individual’s closet space. Oversized t-shirts also became a popular look with street denim. The plain tees created a blank canvas for oversized accessories or designer jeans to stand out and be recognized.
Urban clothing designers are currently focusing their attention on Generation X. Generation X is a more savvy audience in a way that they have taken fashion designers best creations only to mix and match them and make them their own.
While bohemian chic and the grunge look were used for quite some time by urban Xers as a weapon in politics and rebellion, this group is now seeing that the true spirit of fashion is not just about breaking the rules for the sake of it, but exploring how the rules can relate to the way they see themselves in the world. This group is asking how they can express their individuality.
This generation of urban consumers has also become quite sophisticated in understanding how their clothing ought to fit and how fashion works. Designers are responding to this, making alterations such as designing men’s pants that hang from the waist and reach just above the shoe for a classy look, or designing traditional dress shirts and tailored clothing. Both of these looks are making a trendy new statement.
For those urban street style savvy individuals who aren’t into loud colors and yet want to maintain their unique look, fashion designers are giving them the best in denim wear to mix it with traditional sportswear. How does this look? Graphic t-shirts that are not the clichéd skulls on tees, but have complex graphics on them paired with comfortable jeans with nothing on them. Khakis, cotton pants, and even contradictions such as wearing a destroyed t-shirt beyond recognition teamed up with a pair of clean-cut jeans or vice versa.
Urban fashion always changes as it should, lest everybody be wearing the same thing and nobody appearing unique.