The 80s Hip Hop Fashion Trends


The 1980s witnessed the advent of hip-hop culture as an influential cultural movement, and its fashion trends became iconic. Oversized clothing, gold jewelry, and bucket hats became signature looks that defined its fashion trendiness.

Run DMC popularized the B-boy style by donning Kangol bucket hats, Adidas sneakers, chunky gold chains, and nameplate necklaces – hallmarks of street style that run DMC popularized.

Camo Prints

Hip-hop fashion in the 1980s became more than just a trend; it became a cultural movement that brought people together. Experimentation was encouraged, with many trends still present today, like high-top fade (also known as box fade) and baggy pants being part of hip-hop fashion’s influence on men’s style around the globe.

Camo print was one of the defining trends of 80s hip-hop fashion. First seen in Brooklyn, rappers and skaters often sought camo clothing at army/navy surplus stores to give themselves that toughened-up appearance on the streets. Not only was the clothing affordable and long-lasting, but it gave off a powerful feeling that gave them confidence when venturing alone into battleground streets.

This style emerged in the late 80s when political hip-hop gained momentum. Artists like Public Enemy and KRS-One began pairing their anti-government, anti-police stance with black nationalism; this included celebrating African heritage while revisiting outfits associated with Black Panthers, like paramilitary fatigues, beaded jewelry, and kufis.

Oversized clothing was integral to this style, featuring baggy pants, long-sleeve t-shirts, and bucket hats as staple items. Adidas and Puma sneakers were especially favored among rappers and their followers; gold chains were a standard accessory; many rappers even donned large Adidas logo belts when performing live.

Dapper Dan was an iconic designer who helped define hip-hop fashion for over a decade; his oversized designs drew influence from sportswear as much as luxury tailoring, appearing on album covers and red carpets, and heavyweight champion Mike Tyson himself had one of Dapper Dan’s jackets with “Don’t Believe the Hype” embroidered across it before his 1988 title fight against Sugar Ray Robinson. For rappers on their way up, wearing a Dapper Dan piece was proof that they had arrived.

Striped Shirts

Striped shirts were an integral component of the 80s hip-hop style. Not only were they effortless and timeless pieces that could be worn with anything from jeans to hoodies, but they were also beloved pieces often worn on stage by LL Cool J, The Beastie Boys, and Slick Rick themselves!

Jeans were an integral part of 80s hip-hop fashion and were often worn rolled up or cuffed at the ankles – known as pegging in modern hip-hop culture – to give an edgier look. Rappers frequently favored different colored denim, while ripped denim made a famous statement piece that added extra edge.

The 80s hip-hop style was also heavily influenced by sports and streetwear clothing, particularly Nike’s Air Jordan 1 sneaker, a hallmark of hip-hop culture. It was often worn alongside jerseys from Champion or Starter to represent their favorite teams in fashionable ways. This trend eventually led to celebrity collaborations between activewear brands and rappers and allowed rappers to show their pride while sporting chic looks from this period.

With the rise of socially conscious hip-hop in the late 1980s, its fashion began to reflect African influences and Black nationalism. Public Enemy famously donned camouflage clothing inspired by military design to match their “Fight the Power” lyrics. At the same time, blousy pants, Kemetic ankh-adorned kufis, and thick gold chains became increasingly common among rappers.

Dapper Dan was instrumental in shaping the 80s hip-hop style by cutting up Louis Vuitton, Fendi, and Gucci bags into streetwear pieces for Run DMC, LL Cool J, and Jam Master Jay rappers to use. Dapper then mixes and matches these pieces to craft one-off looks tailored to his clients.

Military Jackets

Fashion has often become synonymous with specific subculture movements, especially during the 80s hip-hop fashion scene. As rappers became more mainstream and earned more prominent record labels, their record labels started buying them more expensive clothing to match their lively music styles; this included oversized clothing, bucket hats, and gold jewelry, becoming staples in hip-hop fashion.

Military jackets were an increasingly fashionable trend among rappers of the 80s. One such jacket, Starter jackets, featured zippered arms with attached neck warmers that secured with snap buttons; these jackets often came complete with an attached hood for neck warming, as well as visible logos on their front panels – many rappers such as LL Cool J, Run DMC, and Grandmaster Flash often paired their Starter jackets with jeans for performance purposes. Kangol military-style hats were must-haves at this time for fans!

Tracksuits were another critical piece of 1980s hip-hop fashion that simultaneously proved highly fashionable and comfortable, providing the wearer with an easy way to relax while remaining chic and stylish. Complete jean sets were coveted and remain integral to 80s hip-hop fashion today.

Gold chains were an iconic component of 80s hip-hop fashion and were often worn to demonstrate wealth and status. Four-finger rings also debuted during this era and could usually be found around rappers’ necks. Rope chains became another trendy accessory commonly seen by hip-hop artists who used them to complete their striking looks.

Public Enemy rappers donned camouflage clothing as part of their fight-the-power stance against police and political systems, accessorized with pieces such as kente cloth hats, oversized gold chain necklaces, and dreadlocks to complete this look. Other rappers like Queen Latifah, Kurtis Blow, and Salt N Pepa preferred glamorous looks featuring designer suits and sneakers from fashion houses. At the same time, their gangsta dressing style became immensely popular within the rap scene – fashionable attire such as fez hats, Kufi hats, or Kente cloth hoodies were prevalent in this particular genre of the rap music scene.

Gold Chains

Hip-hop artists of the 80s were famous for wearing extravagant gold jewelry. Rappers like Run DMC, Eric B, and Rakim donned wasteful gold rope chains and rings on their necks that displayed their wealth and success to all who saw. Many believe this practice originated with many rappers being former pimps – wearing large pieces could help pawn for cash if ever arrested!

As rap became mainstream, rappers started earning substantial sums of money. They wanted to show they had enough cash to lavishly purchase luxury jewelry such as gold chains – an iconic symbol of status within rap culture that still often appears among poor and wealthy rappers alike.

Fashionable accessories originating from hip-hop in the 1980s included track jackets. Boys, who introduced break dancing into Hip Hop, often donned these jackets, pairing them with skinny jeans and white or black Gucci loafers to complete the ensemble.

This clothing style first gained traction in the 90s and has remained fashionable among rappers. But recently, it has taken on new dimensions with artists like Kanye West opting for more minimal looks that do not draw as much attention to themselves.

As Hip Hop evolved and became more political, artists used their music as a vehicle to address social injustices within their community and used fashion sense to convey that message.

Gucci Loafers

Gucci loafers became an iconic part of hip-hop fashion during the 80s fashion trend, worn by rappers like Run DMC and Big Daddy Kane in music videos and photoshoots alike. These shoes often came in either black or white colors and could be paired with tight jeans at the ankles; known as the B-Boy style, this look was part of hip-hop culture as part of Run DMC and Big Daddy Kane’s signature B-boy look.

Harlem-born Dapper Dan is widely credited with pioneering high-end luxury fashion into hip-hop culture. His idea was to adapt logos from Fendi and Gucci into affordable streetwear pieces that appealed to hip-hop fans; such works became favorites among artists like Run DMC, Salt-N-Pepa, and LL Cool J.

At the core of hip-hop fashion in the ’80s was baggy clothing designed to conceal body contours. Clothing such as oversized T-shirts, basketball vests, hockey shirts, blazers, and camouflage cargo pants was often chosen – famous examples being oversize T-shirts, basketball vests, hockey shirts, blazers, and camouflage cargo pants. Hooded sweatshirts or goose down jackets often paired with these attire items, along with woolen beanie hats or bandannas worn around bandannas, combat-style boots, or sports shoes, completed the look. At the same time, hairstyles often included dreadlocks, braids, or even high ponytails.

As Black nationalism became a more significant aspect of rap music, its fashions increasingly took on traditional African influences. Basketweave hats, kufis with Kemetic ankhs decorated on them, African chains became standard accessories, plus blousy pants and dreadlocks became a signature part of everyday style.

Hip hop and grunge share one thing in common – an affinity for wearing oversized check flannel shirts, which were simple yet stylish pieces to wear and looked expensive at the same time. Artists such as Queen Latifah, Kurtis Blow, and Salt-N-Pepa wore such garments with jeans, combat boots, and bucket hats to complete their looks.