Hip hop and fashion have always been closely linked, from the iconic Tommy Hilfiger monograms sported by Aaliyah, to the baggy overall trends seen in the late 80s and early 90s. Hip hop figures helped define the styles of an era.
The iconic Adidas Superstar has rarely ever been out of fashion since it was launched in 1970. It was originally a basketball shoe, but the Superstar was claimed by hip hop. Run DMC, after releasing the track ‘My Adidas’, would wear all Adidas tracksuits and Superstars without laces during their performances.
The look became popular, and Adidas began sponsoring Run DMC, one of the first times a sportswear brand had collaborated with musicians, paving the way for the relationship seen between sportswear, hip hop and sneakerheads today.
Nike Air Force 1
Akin to Run DMC’s ‘My Adidas’, Nelly released one of the biggest sneaker anthems in the early 2000s with ‘Air Force Ones’. The Air Force 1 is a classic shoe that should be in any sneakerhead’s collection, and the show can be seen on rappers such as A$AP Rocky and Travis Scott, proving to be a wardrobe staple in hip hop.
Air Jordan 1
The Air Jordan 1 needs little introduction. It was the first shoe created by Michael Jordan’s collaboration with Nike, and the first sneaker to show a symbol of status.
As men's fashion started becoming more of a prominent topic in the 90s with the rise of hip-hop and streetwear fashion, the Jordan 1 was the sneaker that fits right into the aesthetic. It was a sporty shoe that held a hierarchy due to its celebrity status and rarity. It was one of the first basketball shoes that had a sleek shape and played around with colour combinations.
Timberland boots became the footwear of choice for artists such as Kanye West, Tupac, and The Notorious BIG in the 80s and early 90s. The shoe was originally designed for blue-collar workers and was very popular with New Yorkers due to its all-weather sturdiness.
Now the Timberland boot is associated with debatably the best era for hip hop and R&B music and continues to remain popular in New York City and among hip hop lovers today.
Originally designed for sports, the Puma Suede was appropriated by the hip hop scene. B-boy crews and hip hop groups, such as the New York City Breakers and Rocksteady Crew, adopted the Puma suede due to its durability and sleekness. Breakdancers swore by this sneaker and rocked their suedes while dancing.
The breakdancers and hip hop artists of the 1980s who were wearing the Puma suede reached an entire demographic of consumers that Puma's marketing team couldn't reach, giving the brand free promotion.
Puma has since reinvented the sneaker with the Puma Suede Classic XXI, and have enlisted artists such as Cordae to rebrand and promote the shoe.
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