Urban and street fashion found its roots with the rise of hip-hop music and culture back in the 1980s.  Even to this day the urban street fashion trends often follow those made popular by the music industry.  Urban street fashion is now popular worldwide amongst people of all different cultures and ethnicities; however it originated from African American youth living in New York City and Los Angeles in the 1980s.

1980s - Hip-hop icons and popular musicians from the 1980s like Run DMC, LL Cool J, Roxanne Shante, Will Smith and Salt-N-Pepa all contributed heavily to the birth of the fashion trend with their distinctive clothing and fashion style.  The original urban street style from the 1980s included brightly coloured tracksuits in popular brands like Adidas, Dr. Marten’s boots, shelltoe trainers, Sheepskin and leather bomber jackets, large glasses, Kangol bucket hats, name belts and large, heavy gold jewellery.  The look was unique, eye-catching and attractive to the youth at the time and its popularity soon spread out to other large cities.

1990s - All fashion trends change and adapt with the times and urban street wear is no different.  Over the years as hip-hop, R&B and rap music became more popular and mainstream popular artists began to introduce their own unique take on urban fashion.  Artists like Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes, MC Hammer, Aaliyah, Snoop Dog, Wu-Tang Clan, Gangstarr and Coolio shot to fame during this period, making a whole host of new clothing brands popular in urban street fashion.  Popular brands during this time included Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, DKNY, Polo Ralph Lauren, Reebok, Kangol, Fila and Timberland.

During the 1990s an ever-present theme in rap music was black nationalism.  Urban street fashion began to take influence from traditional African dress including blousy pants, kufis, Kente cloth hats and dreadlocks.  The black nationalist colours of red, black and green also featured heavily in urban clothing during this time.  Women began wearing over-sized clothing like big baggy trousers and an over-sized shirt teamed with a tight top or sports bra.  Baseball caps also became notorious with urban street wear. 

2000s – Present - During the 00s to present day a trend emerged for popular hip-hop artists starting their own fashion labels and clothing lines.  Wu-Tang Clan started ‘Wu-Wear’, Diddy has ‘Sean John’ and Enyce’, OutKast has ‘Outkast Clothing’, Eminem ‘Shady Limited’, Jay-Z ‘Rocawear’... the list goes on.  The popular phrase about fashion repeating itself has made itself apparent as many throwback fashion trends have appeared over the last decade in urban street wear.  Adidas, over-sized glasses and snapback caps have all seen a resurgence of popularity in urban fashion over recent years, and baggy clothing and heavy jewellery now known as ‘bling’ remain at the forefront of urban fashion.  Skateboarding and basketball shoes, hoodies, ear piercings, diamantes, clothing featuring skulls and girl’s cropped tops have all been popular additions to urban fashion from the 2000s onwards.

Hip-hop fashion will continue to change with the times and with the music industry.  However there’s no doubt that its unique, eye-catching and comfortable style will mean that it will remain popular amongst the youth well into the future.