90s hip hop fashion represents one of the most enigmatic periods in fashion history. In the 90s, many trends emerged, but hip-hop fashion stands out as one of the most iconic styles that we cannot ignore.
Who doesn’t love the 90s? The 1990s were regarded as one of the most culturally influential eras of all time, and 90s hip hop fashion is a large part of that. To this day, some accessories and elements of it have never fallen out of circulation. Others have since come back.
Hop hop groups placed their stamp on the era. It’s plain to see. With hip hop enjoying one it’s strongest and most booming era to date, many pieces of apparel and brands began to filter into the fashion world.
For anyone who grew up in the era, it’s hard to describe the levels of nostalgia and emotion tied into the trends, styles and clothing. Boy bands, elite rappers, Tupac, Biggie and more. East coast vs. West Coast. Magazines, album covers, TV (including famous Black sitcoms) were all mediums though which the aesthetic of the era came to be.
It was a movement pushed forward by up-and-coming musicians of this era. There were several females in hip hop who framed this movement. These inspiring women included Lil’ Kim, Queen Latifah, Lauryn Hill, Eve, Foxy Brown, Aaliyah, etc.
Through their cultural works and impressive style, they built a fashion that influenced the 90s era. As a passion project, we created a guide on 90’s hip hop fashion. This includes details about brands, outfits, and trends for menswear / womenswear inspired by the decade.
Hip hop was first created in the Bronx, New York City, in the early 80s. This was a time during which the USA was suffering the impacts of an economic recession.
Hip hop was a welcome cultural distraction during this time. It was raised up by people goin through financial, racial, psychological hardships. It was a form of expression by marginalized social groups.
African Americans, Latin Americans and Caribbean Americans created the culture-based artistic movement. While the genre was first introduced in the 80s, it was further developed during the late 80s and early 90s. Hip hop’s cultural impact is still felt among fashion trends, youth culture and musical style today.
90s Hip hop fashion styles mainly expresses itself through urban apparel, streetwear and culture.
The fashion incorporates motifs such as:
As hip-hop started to develop as a cultural movement, its effects on fashion instantly skyrocketed.
The trend was being only worn by a marginalized groups. It then later shifted to a greater scale. Today, all ethnic groups and ethnic groups value it.
Some of hip-hop’s most famous streetwear brands include Nike, Puma, and Adidas.
Influential fashion brands like Gucci, Supreme, and Louis Vuitton have since added (appropriated?) the hip-hop aesthetic into their apparel.
Early 90s Hip Hop Fashion
During the early 90s, African-American culture was hip-hop’s sole influencer. The huge blackish or brownish pants became famous as a hip hop look unisex garment. As were dreadlocks, heavy silver chain accessories, and different hats like the kufi. The staple color palette was black, red, and green—associated with Black nationalism.
Some of the most influential women of the early 90s hip hop fashion scene included Aaliyah, Queen Latifah and TLC. All were proudly pro-black and repped for the culture.
Famous menswear and womenswear fashion trends came about from 1990s west coast fashion. These involved staples like:
– Sports bomber jackets (most famously Starter)
– Basketball sneakers (most famously Air Jordans)
– Baseball caps / fitteds (often worn backwards)
Some luxurious, high-end brands began to incorporate hip hop culture into their apparel during the early 1990s.
Chanel, in particular, followed the culture in its early 1990s collection. Products included heavy gold chains, black leather jackets & heavy silver chains w/ padlocks.
The mid 1990’s started to see another shift in hip hop style. The culture started taking inspiration from styles worn during the 1930s and 1940s. In particular criminal groups, crime syndicates, and Mafia members.
Some pieces that came into fashion include:
– Baggy / oversized apparel
– Alligator / leather accessories
Females represented a sense of empowerment & feminism within the hip-hop community. Women were formidable, wearing baggy, flashy clothing and portraying a ‘bad attitude. Their oversized, bold dressing / personality was to cement their position in a male-centric culture.
During the 1990s and especially towards the late 90’s, many brands started working with hip hop culture.
Calvin Klein, Dona Karan New York, and Nautica were a part of the trivial few. Aaliyah was often seen wearing Tommy Hilfiger. Her outfits comprised of cylinder tops worn with coordinating with pants. Her style engaged young ladies hoping to reproduce her look.
Tommy Hilfiger made sure to highlight African American models and faces in its showcase promotions. This connected hip-hop culture to the brand, starting an lasting bond that exists even today.
Womenswear hip hop fashion quickly adopted pieces like cylinder tops. New womenswear pieces in style included stepping boots, thick dark shades, and loose working jeans.
During the last part of the 90s, silver gems became more common inside hip hop culture in correlation with gold adornments. The ‘bling’ frequently included jewels. Hip hop style was synonymous with flaunting resources, both physical and prudent.
90s Hip Hop Fashion Styles and Trends
The 90s hip hop fashion styles and trends include:
The preppy hip hop style was first introduced during the early 90s, during the initial stages of the subculture.
Preppy outfits involved items like Capri cut pants, button-up collared shirts. All oriented towards a socialite, snobby attitude. All tops might be cropped. Lauryn Hill was known for mixing classic hip hop style elements with more traditional preppy elements. Her style was described as both classy and hip hop-esque.
During the 1990s, the most impressive individuals in fashion were singers and musicians. Men and women rappers became style icons.
They were the people who set the trend. They advanced the culture. These people worked closely with professional designers on new collections. They were the most prominent promoters of several brands. Away from the public eye, celebrities’ party scenes heavily affected future hip hop style trends.
Throughout this era, many collected famous designs by the most popular brands. This dressing style was the most iconic or eccentric, with no limits in creative terms. Rich hip-hop style was also on display at red carpet events.
The urban used hip hop style of the 1990s combined sporty components with the hip-hop aesthetic. Popular brands that worked with this concept included Nike, Reebok, Adidas, and many others.
These brands encompassed hip-hop fashion. They focused on a particular audience who loved the combo of streetwear with hip hop. The outcome was style titled urban hip hop styles, still prevalent today. It’s praised for being convenient without compromising style.
90s hip hop fashion was infamous for the trends it involved. We’re talking:
– Close-up multicolor prints
– Old school varsity jackets
…Among numerous others. Many of these have cycled back into fashion today. Some components are still taken as trendy.
90s Hip Hop Fashion By Season
Summer hip hop outfits revolve around the idea of staying cool. A pair of low-rise baggy jeans, crop top, form-fitting tube top, and a funky pair of plastic-framed sunglasses would be a perfect look. You could complete the look with a couple of Nike Jordans for a vintage 1990s touch.
Spring is cooler than summer, giving you room to experiment. Why not rock some dungaree-style overalls? These are a perfect suggestion when talking 90s hip hop fashion.
You can pair it with a camisole beneath, a cheerful bucket hat, and a pair of Timberland waterproof 1990 style boots. It’s an influential nostalgic spring hip-hop outfit.
Just like spring, the weather gets a little cooler during the fall meaning more fall fine clothes are necessary. The perfect fall hip hop dress code would involve:
Baggy oversized joggers with undone laces.
A heavy gold chain necklace would be the ideal accessory to add to this outfit.
Hip hop winter outfits are very energetic, and they can be easily replicated. Lil’ Kim was the icon of winter hip hop fashion, and her looks set the standard for the era. The way she interpreted hip hop was most clearly visible through her costume-esque style.
For example, black shorts or an above-the-knee black skirt, fur coat, and thigh-high boots.
Or Timberland boots and parka-style down jackets.
Other 90s hip hop fashion accessories / garments include:
The snapback cap is broadly linked to the 90s Hip Hop Fashion. As a common and well known example:
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The show centered around a young Will Smith who continuously sported the snapback hat during various episodes of the series. It was proof that snapback caps were the leading trend during that era.
Though the early 1990s, 58FIFTY FITTED was known as the hat of choice. To this day, snapbacks are still in circulation. It was the genuine indicator that the 90s influence is still strong, and we can see it today.
Many hip hop artists wore these jerseys to make a unique fashion statement on stage & in their music videos.
Jerseys are ideally used in the summer season for the perfect look. NBA jerseys can be a notable trend in various ways like over a hoody, t-shirt, or by itself with joggers, jeans, or shorts.
You can style MLB and NFL jerseys in a similar way as well.
Hip hop accessory was centered around ‘bling’—jewelry in and of itself is iconic hip hop gear.
While silver jewelry has always been the timeless choice, gold was also an essential part of outfits.
The more bling, the better the style. An accessory was often oversized, exaggerated, heavy chains used with diamonds.
Diamond and gold earrings were so much famous among elite class families. During 1990, hip hop was a style explained by extravagance. The idea to display wealth and flash. A major part of 90s hip hop fashion that extends to even today.
Smooth, matte shiny hair. Braids. Cornrows, high top fades, and more. Women’s hair, in particular, was one of the most flashy elements of hip hop in the 90s.
These were some of the most famous elements of the decade for hip-hop culture. Cuts were around shoulder length. A popular hair accessory became bandanas tiding around the hair side. They gave the aura of the classic bandana-style Western prints.
Makeup trend from the 1990 hip hop scene can be described as subtle. It involved the application of matte bases, finishing powders, and bronzer for contouring.
It also involved thin eyeliner applied with a round edge instead of a nude color lipstick and cat-eye with purplish colored lip liners.
For the males and females of hip hop, the theme has become advertising sex through apparel. The most criticism and backlash that the hip-hop scene gets is its objectification of females through song lyrics.
But, the leading figures of women hip hop during the 1990s were feminists, empowering and females who were not afraid of anything.
That is the true meaning of 90s hip-hop fashion. A lifestyle or trend that seeks to empower.
Hopefully, this guide will help you a lot in knowing everything about the 90s hip-hop fashion trend. The 90s was a decade where hip hop established itself as one of the most influential forces in pop culture. This guide was a lot of fun to put together. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. What are your opinions on 90s hip hop fashion?