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Music and Fashion have always gone hand in hand and as of late, rappers have taken over the fashion industry as a whole. What started off as b-boys repping sportswear brands and preppy labels has turned into rappers taking over the worlds largest and most luxurious brands. An obvious example as of late being Kanye West and his Adidas/Balmain campaigns, but Ye isn’t the only rapper who used his musical talents to get to the top of the fashion pyramid. A$AP Rocky as the face of Dior Homme and Young Thug for Calvin Klein are just a few of the other rappers who have recently found success not only in music, but in the fashion industry.
In the early days of fashion and hip-hop, you had sportswear brands dominating the market like FILA, Puma, Nike and adidas. With groups like Run-DMC at the forefront of the movement partnering with adidas. As hip-hop became more popular, so did the influence of rappers on fashion. Once the kangol bucket hats and adidas everything movement wore off, rappers started getting into creating hip-hop specific brands of their own. This birthed labels like Rocawear, FUBU, Phat Farm, Wu-Wear, G-Unit and Sean John. The early success of hip-hop in fashion in the 80’s and 90’s has only grown and today most major rappers have some affiliation with the fashion industry.
Last week Kanye released his music video for “Wolves” which also doubled as an ad for Paris luxury fashion brand Balmain. The video features Kim Kardashian, Vic Mensa, Sia, Kylie Jenner, and a long list of well known models. The video was shot by famous fashion photographer Steven Klein.
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While most other rappers just serve as the cover face of brands, Kanye is one of the only rappers to become very involved on the design side of things. Designing for brands like adidas, Nike and his in house Yeezy Brand, there’s no doubt that Ye has found success in both music and fashion. Kanye has been at it since 2009 when he collaborated with Louis Vuitton on a collection of sneakers.
Perhaps the most successful and respected across both the music and fashion industries is Pharrell Williams. He went from starting off with his own successful brands Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream to designing a jewelery line in 2008 for Louis Vuitton. Williams has also steadily been working with adidas on signature shoes and collaborations over the past few years.
Earlier this month Young Thug appeared in Calvin Klein ads wearing pieces from the women’s FW 16 collection. Thugger has been known to wear women’s clothes before and has been quoted as saying
In my world, you can be a gangsta with a dress or you can be a gangsta with baggy pants. I feel like there’s no such thing as gender.
He’s also been seen walking around NYC in a Gucci dress, but all jokes aside, you keep doing you Young Thug, cause I’m almost positive you dgaf anyways.
A$AP Rocky went from name dropping brands like Rick Owens and Raf Simons in his early music to partnering with brands like Dior, Guess and adidas. He also got his whole A$AP Mob a deal with PacSun. For some celebrities, the projects are a stepping stone to eventually launch their own brand much like Kanye did. However Rocky doesn’t look at it that way and has been quoted as saying: “I would never want to be a fashion designer,”.
For most Rappers it’s about the come up. They like luxury pieces and expensive things, and what better way to show how far you’ve made it then not only wearing these luxury brands, but becoming apart of them. The rise of rappers in fashion has allowed brands to bring together demographics and break the barriers of traditional fashion campaigns. Rappers are arguably the most valuable marketing tool that brands have today and brands are starting to recognize this.
Student at Bryant University. Interested in fashion and urban photography.