Of all the formative fashion movements born in the 20th century, hip-hop style, or the “fresh” look, is conceivably the most fascinating—and complex. Sacha Jenkins’s new documentary, Fresh Dressed, examines the interplay between culture, class, music, and fashion and does so with a thoroughly entertaining 90-minute history lesson, including firsthand accounts from hip-hop giants like Nas, Kanye West, and Pharrell Williams.
?Scroll down for the film’s highlights and to shop pieces from hip-hop brands mentioned in Fresh Dressed.
In the early '70s, 1.5 million people lived in the borough of the Bronx. It was the arson capital of the world, there was pronounced racial tension and police brutality, and gang violence was prevalent. These gang members wore motorcycle jackets with graffiti-embellished denim vests to accentuate their outlaw look (which many attribute to Easy Rider) and even more so to identify their group or street club.
Though the issues at hand were far from resolved, the battles eventually shifted from the streets to the microphone, so to speak. Hip-hop was born, and as it evolved, so did the look. B-boy style was popular, with signature pieces including Lee jeans, Puma and adidas sneakers, Kangol hats, and Cazal frames. It was a style thoroughly derived from the music and vice versa.
High fashion began to become the standard of success. And though designer labels like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Ralph Lauren were considered the ultimate aspiration, it wasn’t enough to simply own the brand; it was the way it was worn—the way it was made “fresh”—that made it cool.
In the '90s there was a noticeable boom in streetwear labels like Cross Colours, Karl Kani, Fubu, and Rocawear. The market became saturated with hip-hop-influenced brands, and from that came a new wave of entrepreneurs who brought the essence of hip-hop to praised runway collections like Sean John, Public School, and Kanye West.
For a more thorough look at the history of hip-hop fashion, check out Samuel Goldwyn Films and StyleHaul’s Fresh Dressed, out in theatres today and available on demand here.
Scroll down to shop iconic brands mentioned in the documentary.