It’s no secret that fashion over the years has taken inspiration from a plethora of things. Whether it be art, music, from celebrities, past fashion or cultures. But when you think about major inspo in the fashion world you have to include the African-American culture. You can look back through history and see how black people have not only influenced, but cultivated major fashion trends copied and recreated by all races.
From Billie Holiday wearing a flower in her hair or the flapper style of the 1920s started by black youth who needed free flowing clothing to do a new dance called the Charleston. Michael Jackson’s fashion icon status sparked trends like moto and military inspired gear, platforms and sparkly gloves; inspiring many current stars like Beyonce, Lady gaga, Chris Brown and Janelle Monae.
As a major way of expressing who we are, black people and fashion just mesh like peanut butter and jelly. Meaning you rarely see one without the other; it’s a perfect match. So let’s get into it. Here are 5 fashion trends started by black people.
1)Bucket Hats- Historically originating from the fishering hat from the 1900s, it was made popular in the 80s by hip hop stars like LL Cool J and Run DMC. It went from being a source of protection from the rain for Irish fisherman and farmers to a fashion statement coined by hip hop moguls and streetstylers alike. What brand do you remember most for bucket hats? If you answered Kangol, then you are right.
This was the brand most identifiable which inspired a piggy back trend of the newsboy Kangol hat. This could be branded by the movie man himself, which is arguably featured in the most movies to date; Mr. Samuel L. Jackson. But let’s not forget Sex and the City’s rival show, Girlfriends, where The fashionable Joan Carol Clayton would rock her Kangol hats as part of her sophisticated quirky paralegal style. Needless to say, this trend has not really gone far as it recently resurfaced in the past year. I myself snagged a Kangol inspired fur bucket hat this year. I’m sure we’ll continue to see many fashionistas sporting this style.
2) Baggy Clothes– This trend was all the rage in the 90s and early 2000s. People of all shapes and sizes could wear this trend. Not to mention super popular singers like Aaliyah making her tomboy style one to be copied. She would rock a bra top with baggy pants for a sexy casual vibe that people could relate to. It was also adopted by other popular girl groups like XScape, TLC and SWV. You would see, camouflage patterns, sweats and sport styles alike. Men took to the trend by way of saggy pants.
You couldn’t walk down the street without seeing their pants positioned below their derriere’s. I’m sure statistics on belts went down as no one was wearing them. This trend too has come full circle with fast fashion retailers like FashionNova and Missguided styling their models in similar fashion. Or celebrities like Billie Eiish who have modernized the trend.
3) Throwback Jerseys– I’m not quite sure the exact moment when wearing jerseys left the stadiums and entered the streets. But we know it was black music that inspired it and made it a thing. You may recall Jermaine Dupri proteges Kris Kross rocking them; although they were more popularly known for starting the backwards clothing trend. Move forward a decade when the jersey trend is updated with the intro of throwbacks. Jay- Z may have single handedly catapulted this trend when he wore the Michael Jordan North Carolina jersey in the Mya Best of Me video. Now every guy on the street proved his fashion sense and worthiness by sporting one. Also popularized by rappers Camron, Fabulous, Ludacris and Nelly. Now although this has fallen off, you still may see a few of your faves like Big Sean and Drake repping their hometowns and faves from time to time. I don’t see this one making a major comeback, but it was impactful while it lasted.
4)Logomania- This is probably one of the most influential and relevant fashion trends started by a black person. First let’s explain Logomania; also known as wearing head to toe look of a designer brands iconic or monogram logo. Now that it’s defined, none other than Dapper Dan should come to mind as the one who made this famous. Known as the “The Hip Hop Tailor of Harlem” he single handedly popularized this trend through his one of a kind recreations of designer items, later reimplemented by those same fashion houses he was shut down for illegally silk screening.
From his boutique in Harlem, he took popular logos such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Fendi and made custom garments for most of hip hops elite like P-Diddy, LL Cool J and even boxer Floyd Mayweather. It was seen as a unique sign of status which is still relevant today. When people buy designer items, mainly bags, most often they select a style covered in the house’s iconic logo. Popular bags like the LV Neverfull, Fendi Baguette and Dior tote, are always a sought after and worn style. This undoubtedly has everything to do with Dapper Dan’s innovative style making the logo lavish; and most likely will not be going away anytime soon.
5) Nameplate Jewelry.- Recently we have started seeing influencers posting their initial necklaces by Celine, but this trend was started long before. Having your name plated on a necklace or inside your favorite pair of hoop or heart earrings was all the rage. And the longer, more exotic the name; the better. Long before Carrie Bradshaw coined her “ghetto gold” necklace in Sex and the City, this trend emerged from the 80s within the African american community and quickly became the black girls statement. I remember wanting a pair so bad, but my mom never caved in. Lots of celebrities like Amber Rose, Lauren London and Nicki Minaj can still be seen rocking theirs today.
Now this list could go on and on. Let’s not forget about sunglasses as a fashion statement, Timbaland boots (with the Manolo heel Version for women) velour tracksuits, airbrushed tanks and shirts and Guess jeans. I mean who didn’t purposely tuck in their shirt to make sure that red bordered triangle showed. Fashion is a sense of not only who we are but what we stand for. With popular race cases like Trayvon Martin which sparked a sleuth of people wearing hoodies in solidarity. Or with the recent case of George Floyd we’ve seen popular sports players like Lebron James popularizing the “I Cant Breathe t-shirt, which has rapidly become a fashion movement. Fashion is embedded in the black culture and will continue to influence political and racial stances, upcoming generations and all races.