Imagine you’re sitting at Alexander Wang’s runway fashion show the lights have just been dimmed down and your waiting for the show to begin. As soon as the model steps foot on the stage the music starts. The harmonious fusion of both music and fashion can be described in that one moment. Both art forms become unified to create a shared vision and purpose that goes beyond their respective borders.
Fashion designer Alexander Wang says music and musicians are one of the most inspiring things for him. ‘I think so much of what has happened in fashion can be and should be attributed to music’ he says. He mentions music styles such as punk, grunge, glam rock and hip hop which have had a profound influence on runway shows and the designing process as a whole. Hip hop as a genre has a very strong presence and there’s a certain reputation and image associated with this music style which exudes confidence and edginess.
When fashion and hip hop collaborate they become in sync with one another and fashion in turn inhabits the cool vibes of hip hop style genre which are reflected in street and sportswear.
Take Alexander Wang’s 2014 spring/summer collection one of his pieces was inspired by 90’s rap music. He turned the 90’s Parental advisory label that was originally put on CD covers into sweatshirts.
It’s a very bold and daring look that channels the hip hop genre however it’s also nostalgic of a time when hip hop wasn’t as exposed or commercialized and had a very authentic sound to it.
Alexander Wang’s recent collaboration with H&M highlights the influence hip hop has on urban sportswear. His line plays around with the concept of individuality and confidence in sportswear and toys with the idea of seeing hip hop as more than a music genre but a mentality and mind-set as a way to view yourself and the world.
Hip hop culture has always had a close association with street wear and urban attire. Run D.M.C. were the first hip hop group to receive a million dollars endorsement deal. Addidas is a brand that merged both hip hop and fashion and made it accessible to consumers that emulated their favourite rappers clothing. ‘We would look through Detroit, through Boston, through Chicago, through LA, through Virginia; every city we went on the Raising Hell Tour, we would look out the back of the tour bus and everybody had the Addidas track suits from head to toe’, Run D.M.C group member McDaniel’s says. Even today Addidas stands as the bridge between Hip hop and fashion it has continued to sign sportswear deals with Hip hop artists such as Kanye West, Missy Elliot, Pharell, Ciara and Snoop Dogg.
Hip hop has also inspired how women dress and perceive themselves in the world of music. R&B singer Aaliyah had a profound effect on female fashion andWhile 90’s Hip hop rappers wore street wear and identified with that type of clothing hip hop artists are now branching out and joining forces with the elite in high fashion. They are showing that Hip hop style has a vision and a voice beyond street wear and can collaborate with high fashion and can express luxury style from a unique standpoint.
Jay z is a current example of this. He recently collaborated with Barneys to release a collection titled the ‘New York Holiday’ which will include pieces from luxury elite designers such as Proenza, Schouler, Balenciaga, Balmain, and many more. Some of his pieces from his collection in a $58,000 crocodile leather Rick Owens jackets, a black Lanvin suit with leather details and a $875 Brooklyn nets cap made from leather, python skin and gold. Though we are seeing a shift in Hip hop style not all Hip hop artists have left the street wear attire. Last year Hip hop artist Nas launched his own collection titled HSTRY which is a line entirely comprised of street wear.
Hip hop style has certainly evolved from 90’s street wear however street and sports- wear has a profound influence on our society and will ever remain to re-invent itself, expand and explore the limitless space of fashion.