The 90s Hip-Hop fashion era is one of the most iconic periods in music and culture. With 90s music came 90s fashion trends, which have evolved into some of the most popular and recognizable styles today.
From baggy jeans to bucket hats to FUBU clothing, 90s hip-hop fashion has left its mark on pop culture. It was an era where things moved slower and it seemed like nobody wanted to get bored for even one second!
In this article, we will explore how brands like Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, and Calvin Klein were all influenced by 90’s Hip-Hop stars like Jay Z or all-time favorite rap group Wu-Tang Clan!
90s Hip-Hop Fashion
In the 90’s Hip-Hop fashion, it was very important for people who listened to this genre to stay true (or “real”) to what their style looked like. And so there were trends that emerged based on individual styles or tastes when it came down to 90’s hip-hop clothes.
Dressing as they would in real life, the 90’s hip-hop stars wanted their clothing to be an extension of themselves. It was mainly done in such a way that it helped to tell their story. It communicated more about who you were as a person.
With this said, some brands became synonymous with 90’s Hip-Hop fashion. And, in most part, it was because Hip-Hop stars would wear them on stage, or on TV, all the time.
The 90s wave of hip-hop artists had a particular style. And as it became more popular, their fashion also continued to grow and evolve.
Some trends that emerged for 90’s Hip-Hop Fashion include bolder colors, baggy clothing paired with oversized tees or puffy jackets, Kangol hats worn backward, and flashy jewelry.
The styles were so varied because there was no one way to dress like a 90s rapper or DJ. It depended on your tastes or what you wanted people to think about you when they saw you on stage.
For some stars, this meant wearing their clothes in such an extreme manner that made them stand out. For others, it meant being more subtle. They didn’t want just another article of clothing meant for decoration only.
The Biggest Names in 90s Hip-Hop Fashion
Now, you can’t talk about the 90’s Hip-Hop Trends without mentioning the icons behind the rave.
So, who were they? Who are some of the geniuses who fashioned style and design that have crept into the modern era?
1. Jay Z
Jay Z is one 90’s Hip-Hop star who has been always associated with fashion. Often seen in a suit or a bow tie with his name engraved on the cufflinks, Jay-Z dressed smartly at all times during this period.
It later emerged that he had not originally come from wealth but wanted people to think of him as wealthy when they looked at him. Well, showbiz then had a lot of ‘show’ that needed putting up.
2. Dr. Dre
Rapper Dr. Dre, aside from his music, also became famous because of 90’s hip-hop Fashion styles. His style often consisted of oversized clothes from places like the FUBU clothing line. These were usually paired together with an Oakland Raiders cap and sunglasses. He would also add chains around his neck and a big 90’s hip-hop medallion.
3. LL Cool J
Other 90s Hip-Hop fashion stars include LL Cool J.
LL Cool J tended to dress in very expensive designer suits with matching sunglasses or glasses.
He also donned bucket and Kangol hats in most of his media appearances. These two have grown to be one of the still existing fashion staples in the world of Hip-Hop today.
LL Cool J was one of the earliest 90’s fashion icons and paved the way for many others to follow suit.
Tupac Shakur was not afraid of showing up in bright Africa-inspired colors. He would also wear anything from leopard print, patterns to even rope chains.
Of course, you wouldn’t miss him wearing dungarees or camo clothes on the regular.
Tupac was an example of a 90s Hip-Hop artist that was more daring. Despite all that, he still made it all work for him.
5. RZA of Wu-Tang Clan
Another 90s rapper, Wu-Tang Clan member RZA, would wear clothes from his clothing line named after himself (RZA). They were very simple, big, and baggy but tended to have Asian or Buddhist influences in their design.
RZA dressed either in jeans and T-shirts or a suit jacket over pajamas when performing. He would also wear items like jewelry made out of large coins or chains around his neck.
6. Notorious B.I.G
Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie Smalls, had some unique styles that he wore on stage for performances.
His 90’s hip-hop fashion was never too flashy. It was all about the baggy clothes paired with an oversized jersey, Coogi sweatshirts, and finished off by top shoe brands.
Brands and Styles Influenced by 90’s Hip-Hop
In 90s Hip-Hop fashion, there were a ton of brands and styles influenced by the 90’s wave.
Brands and stylists like Tommy Hilfiger, Dapper Dan, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karen, and more all had a hand in making 90’s Hip-Hop fashion what it was.
The popularity of these brands created new trends in 90s clothing as well. Some examples are:
1. Oversized t-shirts
Oversized t-shirts from brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Dapper Dan, and others were extremely popular fashion trends back then.
The style was also thought to come as a result of young people wearing their older siblings’ t-shirts. A lot of them were just worn “on the block” but they became a fashion statement all over the United States.
The popularity started with hip-hop artists like Kanye West. It then quickly spread out to mainstream America because it was so versatile for any occasion.
Oversized logo tees are still going strong today which is testament enough that the trend’s timeless and iconic!
2. Timberland boots
Timberlands were a core of the 90s fashion. They were so popular that they even became the footwear for almost every Hip-Hop artist. Top of them were players like Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, N.W.A, Snoop Dog, Puff Daddy, and many others.
The Timberland boot was especially hot in the 90’s fashion because of its iconic look, design, material, and colorways.
Some of these boots had embroidery on them while others featured signature horse-bit. Some had different treatments such as leather panels with contrasting colors that would make their appearance more flashy than your average shoe from any other brand at the time!
A lot of people started wearing Timberlands not just as casual wear but also during formal occasions too. It didn’t just look good with jeans but also a suit or dress!
Timberland boots were/still are so popular that you can find different iterations of them from the 90s throughout today’s market!
Fun Fact: Timberland boots were first created to help construction workers protect their feet from accidents. Young people later took them up to comfort their feet when making long ‘drug runs’ around corners throughout the night.
3. Baggy jeans
Big baggy jeans were also a top 90s fashion that was highly popularized by hip-hop artists.
They featured low-cut/dropped crotches with loose waistbands on the hems to create an oversized look around the upper leg area. The style became so popular and got worn by almost every kid in the Bronx during the early 90s.
It also became a style for many Hip-Hop artists as well like Puff Daddy, Jay-Z, and others to show off their oversized style.
4. Bucket hats and do-rags
Bucket hats and do-rags were other trends in 90s fashion influenced by hip-hop culture. My guess is, you probably owned or thought of getting one at one point in your life…
Do-rags were mainly worn by people throughout to protect their newly-styled hair. A lot of people wore bucket hats to cover their hair or as a part of their outfit.
They both became popular after rappers like Snoop Dogg and LL Cool J started wearing them on their music videos.
It was not just men that wore them either because women also began to wear do-rags too to protect their hair from breakage, frizz, and heat damage.
Wu-wear came into the market in 1995.
This trend started when Wu-Tang Clan came out of nowhere with a ton of street cred to become one of the biggest names in 90s Hip-Hop fashion. The clothing line quickly became so popular. This, again, was because it bucked against mainstream brands at the time that just didn’t understand hip-hop culture.
Wu-wear was so popular because it wasn’t too expensive. And everyone loved wearing a piece of their favorite artist’s style…!
Some other 90s rappers who also launched clothing lines were Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, Puff Daddy, and more.
Dungarees came in a storm and are still rocking fashion trends even now in 2021!
Many people associate dungarees with the 90s because of their popularity during that era. Some big Hip-Hop names that liked wearing this style included Tupac, The Fugees, TLC, Will Smith, and many others!
Some brands like Levi’s made them in styles such as double-dipped and acid wash denim which were a must-have back then! The material was also another reason why they became popular because it’s very durable, versatile, and made for the masses.
You can still find some of the popular 90’s dungarees at vintage shops and other places on the internet today!
7. Air Jordans
Nike Air Jordans are some of the most iconic sneakers in history. They’ve stayed around since 1985 when Nike and Michael partnered.
The shoes were originally designed for basketball but eventually became more streetwear.
Nike Air Jordans were so iconic that they even became featured in music videos like NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton”. Top-rated shows like The Fresh Prince also had its star, Will Smith, rock the series from time to time.
8. Denim jackets
Denim jackets were originally created as workwear. They became popular from the ‘80s into the ‘90s because one could wear them with anything!
This led to brands creating their designs for the market. Notable denim jacket brands then included FUBU, Calvin Klein, Versace, Moschino, and Guess Jeans.
West Coast stars like Eazy-E and Tupac made this a common look in their wardrobes.
9. Kangol hats
Kangol hats happened at a time when hip-hop culture was becoming mainstream. Fashion designers at the time began to create looks for rappers to meet the sudden demand from the world of Hip-Hop.
Kangol hats became iconic after stars like Samuel L. Jackson and Notorious B.I.G made it their trademark look. Other stars who promoted the Kangol label included LL Cool J and Wesley Snipes.
10. FUBU (For Us, By Us)
FUBU was one of the first brands to take off in both Hip-Hop fashion and culture. A group of friends founded the company to create affordable and ‘identity’ clothing for the hip-hop crowd.
The company quickly became a success, leading to collaborations with artists like Missy Elliot and Queen Latifah.
This was a time when hip-hop culture had begun to get mainstream attention. FUBU became the go-to for many hip-hop artists and fans too.
11. Camouflage clothes
Camos are also a hit from the 90s Hip-Hop fashion still worn today. They’re often in the form of cargo trousers, shorts, vests, or jackets.
The clothes were/are either made from cotton or nylon and have huge pockets. Hip-Hop artists then adapted camouflage pieces into outfits that they wore on stage during performances.
Some of the most famous rappers to wear camouflage clothing were Jay Z, Tupac Shakur, and Snoop Dogg.
12. Adidas sportswear
Adidas sportswear has stuck around for a while.
Even so, it was the 90s that saw some of its best designs. The clothing line came into the world of Hip-Hop in the late 1980s and was often worn by rappers.
This craze then paved the way for other brands like Puma, FILA, Kappa, and more. Some of the most worn trends were luxury tracksuits as seen in the group, Run DMC.
13. Snap-back caps and Puffy Jackets
Puffy jackets are one of the most recognizable trends that Hip-Hop dominated in the 90s. Depending on what style of music you listened to, there was a different puffer for you: from an oversized logo jacket to brands like Starter, Armani Exchange, or Polo Sport.
Some of the most famous rappers to wear puffy jackets were N.W.A, Jay Z, Snoop Dogg, and The Notorious B.I.G.
Snap-back hats were also a part of that time and were always worn together with Starter jackets. Several types of snap-backs exist to date. These include fitted capstans, flat caps, and visors.
Back then, it was an ‘army uniform’ for the N.W.A. and their entire fan base. It’s still popular today amongst rappers and fans.
14. Coogi Sweatshirts
Coogi is a retro, vintage-inspired, and Hip-Hop brand up to date. They offered sweatshirts with oversized sleeves and varied colors blended in random patterns.
Famous 90’s Hip-Hop artists to wear the brand included B.I.G., Jay Z, and Tupac Shakur.
Back in the day, you could rock them in layers with a denim jacket on top.
Have you thought of going retro 90’s?
Hip-Hop fashion has always been about the latest trends and pushing boundaries.
90’s Hip-Hop fashion was so cool that it didn’t even need to be mainstream. It’s no wonder that 90s styles are slowly making a comeback in today’s world.
Fashion from this decade will always have a place in the heart of every 90s kid!