Let’s face it, Hip Hop is the most influential genre of music and everyone wants to dress like rappers whether you admit it or not. Whether your aware of it or not there are certain brands you love because of rappers.
We have seen a countless number of brands start from humble beginnings only to skyrocket into stardom due to hip hop endorsement. There’s a reason why brands want artists to wear their fashion pieces, especially hip hop artists.
1. Rappers wear clothes which is then perceived as cool
2. Consumers check out rapper’s video/social media
3. They Buy these same/similar clothes
4. Brands are Happy and make £ $ € 😊
Let’s cast our minds back to 1994 when we first saw snoop dog back in the infamous Tommy Hilfiger polo which would go on to become a defying moment for the brand. What about the time Nelly got the culture excited about Air force ones! We could run down a list of all the brand’s rappers helped make cool and influence your buying decision (which I will be doing in this post) I personally hate the word influencer but put my feelings to the side for a second, rappers are the influencer’s influencer!
So, without further ado let’s look into some of our favourite brands which rappers have influenced us to wear.
POLO (Ralph Lauren)
When it comes to hip hop and polo the merge between the two go hand in hand. What’s most interesting about this is initially Ralph Lauren’s POLO wasn’t intended for hip hop culture but more so middle and upper-class people. By the 90’s polo had become a part of street culture which we saw featured in music videos and publications. Just to name a few rappers who have championed and supported the brand for years range from 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne, Asap Ferg, Young Dro, and Kanye West. Oh and let’s also not forget Kanye’s infamous line on Sway’s morning show “IT AINT RALPH THOUGH”
The video below details the seamless merge between polo hip hop
A Bathing Ape (BAPE)
Though the brand’s origin traces back to Japan which is far from the center of hip-hop culture, a bathing ape’s unique look caught the eye of hip hop and has been rocked ever since. Best known for its camouflage style, bapestar kicks, full face zip up hoodies and gorilla icon logo, its place in hip hop culture traces way back to 2003.
One of the main reasons we can accredit the merge of hip hop and Bape is Nigo (Founder of Bape) and Pharrell’s relationship. There’s no doubt that Pharrell rocking the brand would have influence over the culture in years to come.
Bape understanding their strong ties within hip hop culture allows them to create events such as the Bape heads show which took place last year. Bape recruited hip-hop stars Kid Cudi, Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, Pusha T, Lil Yachty and DJ CIPHA SOUNDS for a hip hop show.
The brand also had great product placement in multiple hip-hop videos such as Snoop dog’s let’s get blown, Soulja boy crank that, Lil Wayne hustler music and Asap Rocky brand-new guy to name a few.
As I write this article I’m starting to see a common theme which happens to be hip hop taking fashion pieces which weren’t intentionally designed for them in mind, however making these products hip hop. Yes, the Timberland boot was intended for Construction Workers yet years after release would be worn by some of hip hops favourites from Jay-z, Biggie Smalls, Mobb deep and Kanye West.
The appeal in the boot came from its stand out beige colour and truth be told the boot is more of a New York hip hop culture thing than anything else. While most brands on the list are worn by most rappers the Timberland boot is mainly a regional style and associated with New York culture.
Here’s the twist, though most consumers are influenced by rappers, in the case of the timberland boot rappers were influenced by New York drug dealers who wore the boot to withhold bad weather conditions. Around the 90s as hip hop started to go more mainstream so did its style and one of its staple looks was the stand out construction boot. I definitely bought a pair based on my love for hip hop and not construction workers, because let’s face it, rappers are cooler.
Nike (Air Jordan/ Air Force 1)
Though I wouldn’t say hip hop as a culture inspired young consumers to go out and purchase Nike as the brand itself is strong enough with or without being endorsed, however, certain Nike products have most certainly had hip hops aesthetic added to it to influence customers.
Jordan’s and the air force 1 are most definitely hip-hop products. Worn by most of hip-hop culture the two go hand in hand! Air Jordan’s have been worn by rappers forever as I can’t recall them ever going “out of style” whereas the air force gets most of its resurgence credits towards Nelly as he dropped the song Air force one, sales went up for Nike and we loved the shoe!
Though supreme initially started as a skateboard brand without many traces in hip hop, that all changed when Dipset splashed some hip-hop aesthetic to their clothes. Once Jim Jones and Juelz Santana collaborated with supreme on a t-shirt this introduced the hip hop world to the brand and vice versa and has since been rocked by many artists.
The influence of the Dipset X Supreme collaboration has seen many other collaborations that followed afterwards, but mainly the increase in loyalty and money and because of hip hop. Many artists have rocked the brand from Asap Rocky, Chris Brown, Nas and Kanye West. This without question has made many young customers cop the brand, even if that meant for resell prices and supreme resell prices are out of this world!
Luxury Fashion House (Chanel/Louis Vuitton/Gucci)
While each of these brands mentioned could take up their own section it was easier to group them together as hip hop loves luxury fashion. Hip hops love for luxury dates back all the way to the 80s/90s, and as visuals would become bigger due to big record label budgets so did the clothes. Almost all rappers have rocked luxury at one point or another and brands knowing how influential this was would capitalise on it. Take Gucci for example, knowing offset constantly wears their brand results into them giving him a discount for life that, in turn, means the majority of his closet is Gucci.
Some rappers may have not liked some of the luxury pieces however they understood that wearing designer was a status symbol of success which had been attained by the artist.
Like Biggie said “However, living better now, Coogi sweater now”
For this one, we got to go back all the way to 1986, RUN-DMC release the track my Adidas which becomes a HIT. Before the 90s which is deemed as the golden era of rap the 80s for sure set, the blueprint regarding hip hop structure and RUN DMC were a major part of this.
Due to the success of the song my Adidas it led to the first-ever endorsement deal between a music act and an athletic company. What gets even more interesting with this story is that Lyon Cohen (RUN-DMC’s manager at the time) invited the Adidas executive Angelo Anastasio to Madison Square garden where RUN-DMC told the crowd to hold up their Adidas footwear during the song. It was at this point many brands including Adidas realised the power of hip-hop culture. This partnership would be the start of many others within the company such as snoop dog, Pharrell and most notably Kanye West.
Though consumers love Kanye’s Yeezy it should go without saying RUN-DMC laid the groundwork for an artist to be able to work with a brand such as Adidas. From shell toes, Yeezy and other apparel these pieces are constantly worn by artists whether its everyday wear or for the music video.
Calvin Klein as a brand has always understood the power of hip hop and has always tapped into this market with partnerships featuring Asap Rocky and Asap Mob, Fetty Wap, Kendrick Lamar and Young Thug. The brand has always represented a minimalistic clean type of look which many have appreciated but one of the staple main pieces happens to be their men’s briefs. Rappers have always worn their trousers low with their briefs showing so why not capitalise on that? Which is what the brand has done with their campaigns.
So now in culture, we see consumers wanting to show off their CK briefs and a lot of that comes from the hip hop influence.
The iconic converse was designed all the way back in 1917 and was instantly loved by Charles “Chuck Taylor” who was a professional basketball player in the 1920s. It wasn’t long till the shoe was rebranded after his name. Again, not intended for hip hop, rappers also loved the shoe and would wear it decades later.
As the timberland boot is regional to New York/east coast in terms of style then the converse is regional to the west coast. Chucks were heavily popularised by many hip-hop artists such as snoop dog, The game, Asap Nast, Tyler the Creator, and Vince Staples. The converse aesthetic is a very LA-based look which now can be seen worn worldwide, not only does the shoe provide comfort but also is stylish.
Hip hop has always been about getting fresh and using style to express your individuality to the max. Brands over the years have noticed hip hops influence in culture and have leverage this to tap into potential hungry customers wanting to look and feel as rappers. Some of us may be conscious of it while some not as much, one thing is for sure though, it won’t be dying down anytime soon. Hip hop has always had a way of making us want to buy certain clothes one way or another.
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