Throughout my college music class, we explored the impact of fashion and music on society. We talked about all sorts of fashion, and how it was affected by music (or what music was popular at the time). This led us to research different genres of music as well. We looked at everything from Grunge, to Pop. But one subculture that I found especially fascinating was Hip Hop. I would like to consider myself a very avid Hip Hop fan, so to see how the music has influenced the mainstream fashion today was fascinating. In many genres it is common for the fashion to inspire the music, but I believe that in Hip Hop (more than any) it is the complete other way around.
The correlation between hip hop and fashion is one that dates back all the way to the 1970’s. Groups such as the Sugar Hill Gang, and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, were the first to really hit the Hip Hop scene. Both groups outfits were still heavily inspired by the disco era style of the 70’s, but you did see hints of new fashion with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Fast forward to the 1980’s and a new hip hop group hit the scene called Run DMC. The group consisted of Jam Master J, Joseph Simmons, and Darryl McDaniels. Run DMC was the first group of people to really put a look to the genre. Instead of having poufy afros, and wearing button up shirts, the group stuck with the black jumpsuit. Their accessories included a black hat, Adidas Superstars (shoes), and big gold chains. This was the first time that we really saw jewelry play a big part in men's mainstream fashion. Run DMC were also the first to pioneer the signature sneaker. In 1986, the group came out with their hit song titled “My Adidas”. Not long after, the group not only signed with Adidas but came out with their own silhouette of the Adidas Superstar, the shoe that they were so famous for wearing.
The next group that really had an impact on fashion within the genre were the Beastie Boys. The group consisted of Mike D, MCA, and Ad-Rock. Three white kids from New York City. The Beastie Boys fashion was not eccentric, in fact they dressed almost like everyday teens (at least towards the start of their career). A common outfit for any member of the Beastie Boys would consist of a baseball hat or snapback, a varsity jacket, jeans, and a gold chain. The Beastie Boys dressed as if they were teenagers with a little money, and it completely worked for them. White kids all around suburb America could be seen rocking clothing similar to that of the Beastie Boys.
Hip Hop and fashion really took off in the 1990’s thanks to plenty of different people. The first person was LL Cool J. Famous for songs such as “Mama Said Knock You Out” and “Doin’ It”, the young artist had a lot of steam and impact during the 90’s. Cool J was famous for his Kangol Bucket hats, and big gold chains. The second artist who ruled music, fashion, and pop culture during the 90’s was Will Smith. Smith did it all, from movies, music, and even his hit TV show, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Will Smith’s Fresh Prince style became so iconic, that Jordan made their own shoe inspired by the show. On the other side of the spectrum, you had groups such as N.W.A.. The Group consisted of 6 members, Eazy E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Arabian Prince, DJ Yella, and MC Ren. Being “Straight Outta Compton”, the group had immense impact on people living in inner cities at the time. The group made very fulgor political statements, like with songs such as “Fuck tha Police” and “Express Yourself”, which talks about black people being voiceless in the music industry and in America. There is no doubting the significance of N.W.A. in both music and fashion.
All of this of course leads into today. There are plenty of artists who are heavily invested in fashion. Some of these rappers include A$AP Rocky, Tyler The Creator, Young Thug, and Playboi Carti. But in my opinion, nobody has had an impact on both music and fashion in the past few years like Travis Scott has. Jaquees Webster, or better known as Travis Scott, started making music in 2009. Like his future protégé Kanye West, Travis started out by producing tracks. He produced for a few different rap groups in Houston before moving. Travis at the time attended a college in Texas. In an interview with Complex Travis said that he had lied to his Mother about where his college money was going too. He would go on to say “I was like, ‘Yo, I need mad money for books. I need a new computer.’ And somehow they got me the money and I spent [it] on like living. Bought me a plane ticket next day, dipped out to New York.”. This just showed his dedication to the craft. Inevitably, his parents would cut him off from money and he would be stuck on his own. The young producer/rapper decided to do what pretty much any young artist does nowadays, which is to move to Los Angles California. In Los Angeles, Travis Scott ended up meeting T.I., and Kanye West. These interactions would enable Travis to start working with GOOD Music, which was Kany West’s label at the time. With his drumming and producing ability, Travis was able to produce GOOD Music’s Cruel Summer compilation in 2012, and later Kanye West’s YEEZUS. In May of 2013, Travis released his own mixtape titled Owl Pharoah. This mixtape included songs such as “Upper Echelon”, “Uptown” featuring A$AP Ferg, and Hell of a Night, which put Travis Scott on the map as a rapper to be taken seriously. After releasing his second mixtape titled Days Before Rodeo, the Travis Scott hype started to begin, and fans were anticipating his next album which would be titled Rodeo. The long-awaited album came out on September 4, 2015, and included what would be his hit song, “Antidote”. The release of Rodeo and the song “Antidote” would launch Travis onto another level of fame.
Fast forward to 2020, and Travis Scott is one of the biggest names not only in music, but in fashion as well. In 2018, Travis Scott came out with one of the most highly anticipated albums of all time, ASTROWORLD. This album took everything to a whole other notch. With the release of this album came collaborations galore. Since the release of Astroworld, Travis Scott has collaborated with McDonalds, Fortnite, Playstation, OFF Whie/Virgil Abloh, Dior, and Resses Puffs. Travis has also come out with multiple signature shoes with Nike. Resell for these shoes, reach over $1000. Resellers and fans go absolutely nuts for anything Travis puts his name on. When walking down any street or in any mall, you're sure to see someone either wearing a piece of Travis Scott’s clothing, or dressing in his baggy style of clothing (baggy cargo pants, hoodie, hat). It's not hard to see Travis Scott’s impact on both music and fashion. This also shows how much Travis Scott (a hip-hop artist) has influenced fashion.
All in all, the connection is clear to see. From Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, N.W.A., all the way to now Travis Scott. Hip Hop has clearly impacted fashion tremendously. Without hip hop, who knows what kids would be wearing nowadays. I am almost positive you would not see anybody wearing Travis Scott’s merchandise.
Article by Zach Smith