How Rap Has Changed Fashion: Part 1

Words by Hrishika Maniar

Focused on how rappers are changing fashion with their lyrics and collaborations, ‘These APC’s, do your ABCs’, raps Aminé on Reel It In. It’s true though. If you’re a rap fan who doesn’t know your fashion brands, are you even an actual rap fan?

Old School or Golden Age era hip-hop was characterised by gritty lyrical soul delivered through hard-hitting social and political commentary. Fast forward to the end of the 00s and an entrance into New-age, Second-wave Trap Rap, and more recently Mumble Rap, the focus of lyrics has largely shifted to wealth, recreational drug use, and designers. 

Rappers aren’t just dropping bars anymore, they are dropping brands. Picking random top rap songs of the 2010s finds that so many of them feature the name-drop of at least one fashion brand. Simply put, if you listen to a song, you will remember some aspect of it. It’s more likely that that aspect is a brand now. ASAP Mob made RAF. Lil Pump made Gucci Gang. Remember 2012’s N****s in Paris, and Kanye West with all his bravado, asking ‘What’s Gucci my n***a?… What’s that jacket, Margiela?’. Of course, you do.

And these viral songs are impacting trends. Take Lil Nas’ Old Town Road for example (yes okay, I know it’s country rap), which garnered popularity on TikTok and ended up then spending 19 weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Lil Nas’ ‘cowboy hat from Gucci’ made the bold headwear a covetable fashion accessory.

It’s not the first time that rappers have been trendsetters. Rappers have been propelled from just musicians to high-profile fashion contacts. ASAP Rocky has said before ‘ASAP, get like me. Never met a motherf*cker fresh like me. All these motherf*ckers wanna dress like me’, and well, he’s not wrong. He’s been the face of the Dior Homme AW16 campaign, where he was described as embodying ‘the empowered masculinity of today’s urban dandy’. Rappers have opened up the guarded gates of fashion exclusivity and stormed the grounds, becoming the most popular fashion royals. They’ve made the luxury fashion brand more relatable to the average person.  

Crunching the numbers, Millennials are now the biggest buyers of luxury fashion, and will account for 50% of personal luxury purchases by 2025. The number of Gen-Z luxury buyers is also set to grow. This same study also shows that they are most interested in buying luxury and streetwear collaborations, namely Louis Vuitton x Supreme, Adidas x Yeezy, and Chanel x Pharell Williams, with 60% of Millennials reporting a collaboration purchase. The study also finds that influencers have a big impact on consumer preferences. The growth of the impact of rap is having a huge impact on the fashion industry.

From Snoop Dogg’s oversized Tommy Hilfiger tops, to the BAPE trend that swept the 90s, rappers have always been influencing trends. Suddenly, the rap scene has gone from a music genre to a giant in shaping a trillion dollar industry, with collaborations, name-drops, and the lot. It’s no longer just a music thing, rap is a luxury now.

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