Rap and hip-hop fashion subcultures first originated in Africa America and then became popular in New York City and other big areas of the United States. Many elements and fashion icons have contributed to the overall hip hop style that we know now today.

Generally, hip hop fashion is based on the expression of the personality and attitude of hip-hop icons, such as Snoop Dog, Eminem, Kanye West and many others. In the late 1970s, sportswear rose to popularity, and many brands such as Adidas and Le Coq Sportif established themselves as hip hop official brands.

When Rap Met Hip Hop

In the late 1980s, hip hop fashion started to change and absorbed some of the influences of traditional African-American artists. In 1989, Cross Colours, the first streetwear brand and hip-hop movement was established.

The idea was to create and wear “clothes without prejudice”, inspired by the increasingly influential black nationalism. Rappers were using their voice and their clothes to highlight the social issues of the black community.

Those who embraced this fashion wore large pants, eccentric headwear and bright colours. Yet, there was still a small resemblance of the preppy style, inspired by Will Smith’s iconic character from the popular TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Photo by Uproxx (Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
Photo by Uproxx (Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)

High-End Fashion for Rappers?

Nowadays, rappers are not only artists but also front campaigners for some of the biggest fashion houses. With the rising success of this music genre and its style, rap and hip-hop men’s fashion styles have now evolved into high-end streetwear.

Nevertheless, you don’t need to spend too much money on high-end fashion to complete your outfit. Don’t forget that hip-hop fashion is all about choosing the right colours and patterns to express your style!

How to Dress Like a Rap / Hip Hop Star

Embrace the Sportswear Look

Sports brands, such as Puma, Adidas and Pro-Keds, helped the hip hop subculture become iconic and inspire several young people. You can always count on a good tracksuit, which is comfy and practical. Go for a neutral colour, and you will be able to wear it even on more formal occasions.

Trust Your Sneakers

Hip hop men’s fashion is all about wearing practical clothes and shoes. You can find your perfect pair of sneakers among a wide set of choices and brands. This includes Puma, Converse, and Adidas. To customise your look, you can use oversized or neon shoelaces.

Photo byAdidas (Ozweego Shoes)
Photo by Adidas (Ozweego Shoes)

Feel the Preppy Influence

In the 1980s, the preppy look influenced the first wave of hip-hop subculture. Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Timberland were only some of the brands who inspired artists, thanks to their tight fit and masculine vibes.


In the 1990s, Tupac, one of the most legendary rappers, introduced one of the best pieces of any hip-hop-inspired wardrobe. Bandanas became an iconic headwear accessory, and today they are still perfect to complement any outfit. Don’t want to cover your hair? Use your bandana as a cool wristband.

Photo by Boohoo Man (Paisley Print Bandana)

Play with The Coolest Accessories

Hip hop and rap icons were the kings of fashion accessories. From large eyeglasses to heavy gold jewellery, performers knew how to highlight their look. You can wear multiple rings or, if you prefer a less eccentric look, go for a bucket hat or a name belt.

Photo by Size? (Adidas Velvet Bucket Hat)
Photo by Size? (Adidas Velvet Bucket Hat)

Baseball Caps

In the 1990s, rappers like Left Eye and Kid ’n’ Play popularised baseball caps. This is a very versatile sportswear accessory, which you can rock even if you don’t like baseball. In fact, you can go for a bold print or colourful pattern to express your personality.

Photo by Zalando (MLB Pittsburgh Pirates ’47 MVP Cap)


Subcultures of the 1980s That Inspired Men’s Fashion

The Best Hip-Hop Styles of the Eighties and How you Can Embrace them in the Modern Fashion Scene

Baggy Pants

Baggy pants became a must for all hip-hop artists starting from the 1990s. They were also worn by women, making them an inclusive piece of clothing. If you don’t want to look too sloppy, you can pair them with some slim trainers and a tight-fitting T-shirt.

Basketball Shoes

Although trainers were already a popular item, it was only in 1984 that Nike and Michael Jordan created the most iconic pair of basketball shoes, the Air Jordan’s. Today, this is a legendary piece of footwear, which has inspired many high-end designers, such as Dior.

Photo by Farfetch (Dior Air Jordan 1 High Sneakers)
Photo by Farfetch (Dior Air Jordan 1 High Sneakers)

Mesh Jackets

Gangsta rap was a subculture which became popular in the late 1980s, inspired by the African American gangs. Air Jordan sneakers and mesh jackets were two of the most important pieces of items of any gangsta rapper’s wardrobe.

The Homeboy Trend

In the late 1980s, Isaac Mizrahi introduced the so-called “homeboy chick” trend. Models and artists were wearing black catsuits and fur-trimmed hoodies. If you want to keep it more casual and minimal, you can opt for a fur-trimmed parka or coat.

Photo by Superdry (Everest Parka Jacket)
Photo by Superdry (Everest Parka Jacket)

Throwback Clothing

The most recent wave of hip-hop men’s fashion was inspired by many throwback pieces of clothing and fabrics, with a focus on sports jerseys. Vintage clothes were featured in several videos and soon became very expensive. Today, they are cheaper, and you can even find some fake jersey pieces.


In the 1990s, the jewellery culture rose among rappers, who used it to express their wealth and status. Today, many fashion designers have reinvented this look, with Gucci and Louis Vuitton producing eccentric and flamboyant jewellery in gold or platinum.

Photo by Gucci (Double G Bracelet)

Fashion Scarves

Kanye West and other pioneers of the new era of hip-hop men’s fashion have popularised fashion scarves and other accessories. Scarves are also very practical pieces, which will keep you warm and highlight your style.

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