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Fashion Controversies about Hip Hop Garments Research Paper

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Updated: May 15th, 2020


Fashion refers to an ongoing upheld attitude or behavior in a society. It covers ranges of customs as well as styles that are adopted by people in a society such as dresses worn by people. Controversy on the other hand refers to the existence of a varied opinion between two groups with opposing views.

Fashion controversy thus relates to a dispute between two opposing camps that results from conflicting opinions due to a fashion design.

This paper seeks to discuss controversy over a garment design. The paper will look into controversy that arose over hip hop garment design with the aim of identifying the source of the controversy, key players in the controversy as well as political, social and economic aspects of the fashion.

The paper will also look into the relationship between fashion and social together with political issues and impacts of the hip hop garment controversy.

The hip hop garment

The hip hop garment fashion can be traced to the hip hop music following its close association with the type of music. Hip hop form of music was developed in the years of 1970s and later associated with a characterized dressing code.

This developed dressing fashion was spread and adopted among communities at the time. The dressing design was further spread and widely adopted by people in the following years of 1980s. The design, that was characterized with generally large over sized cloths that were accompanied by extensive jewelry then became recognized as a world fashion.

The widely spread design had an impact on the way that both men and women, especially the youth dressed (Adams 1).

The introduction of the hip hop dressing style shook the entire world through its influence. The fashion was extensively spread with its features being evident in almost every corner of the world. The features of the dressing style such as “oversized football jerseys, baggy jeans, and omnipresent bling” (Ultimate 1) have been common with men’s dressing while women have been identified with such dresses as “skintight mini dresses, colorful tube and halter tops and low rise jeans and of course the bling” (Ultimate 1).

Like the hip hop music, its corresponding dressing style has immensely spread and is felt among different societies. Its association to the music style facilitated its acceptance among people who had been strong fans to the music style.

Hip hop artists such as “Eminem, Fergie and Jenifer Lopez” (Ultimate 1) have been identified as some of the key figures that contributed to the spread of the hip hop dressing style (Ultimate 1). Having been popular musicians, these people through their visits to different corners of the world together with their music on cassettes and even on televisions, played a key role in the spread of the hip hop dressing style.

Another feature that was also identified with the hip hop garment fashion was its outstanding rebellious instinct. The style has since attracted the attention of many designers and companies that entered into the market to take advantage of consumers’ preference in order to make sales.

Akademics was for example a cloth company that majorly traded in the hip hop kind of design.

The designers of the company were reported to have been strong followers of hip hop music. Their involvement in the type of dressing design was therefore driven by the association between the design and the music style. Other designer groups that involved in the hip hop dressing design included Coogi, and Ecko designer companies among others (Ultimate 1).

Origin of the hip hop garment

The hip hop garment is believed to have derived its roots from the culture that was developed by the hip hop music as was introduced in the beginning of the last quarter of the twentieth century. The actual dressing style however came to its notable existence later in the years of 1980s following the seemingly cultural establishment by the then hip hop music artists.

The artists clothed were identified to have changed from the normally evidenced designs that were witnessed at the time into the characteristic features of oversized clothes for men and the corresponding skintight ones for women.

The establishment of the hip hop fashion can therefore be attributed to the hip hop music artists that were in existence in the time period in which the dressing fashion was established and spread. Such hip hop artist as “Run-DMC and LL Cool J” can for example thus be recognized as the figures or personalities that instituted and promoted the development of the fashion in the then society.

The influence into the design was although later infiltrated by other groups such as the media and cloth designers together with traders in the market for clothes who then facilitated the fashion in the process of earning a living from their trading profession.

The features such as “huge gold necklaces and jewelry” together with a characteristic hair design which were introduced by figures such as “Daddy Kane or Kurtis Blow” (Deadboyle 1) also fueled the fashion.

The controversy over hip hop garments

The hip hop garment as a sub culture of the hip hop has suffered much negative attacks from the society at large. There are a large number of populations in the society who have for example disregarded the culture of hip hop as a whole to be a set of immature behavior that that should only be a characteristic of school kids. These groups of people view the hip hop culture, and hence the hip hop dressing as a set of behavior that is not quiet sensible.

There have been negative attitudes towards the culture that view hip hop followers as sort of illiterate class of people who are not serious about knowledge. The set of people identified with the hip hop culture are also perceived to be “destructive and materialistic” in their nature and lives (Dyson 1).

It was because of these perceived features over hip hop followers that Dyson noted a difference when he encountered a young adult who seemingly had positive characteristics that were contrary to the critical attacks on the hip hop culture and garments.

In his argument, Dyson expresses his subject as an example of an excellent student in a perfect academic environment. The subject is described as an individual who is passionate and is also concerned with life. He reads in order to have a better comprehension of his life.

According to Dyson’s representation, his subject was involved in the hip hop culture and was perceived to be an advocate for the tradition. The young man is expressed to be calling upon people to rise beyond their skepticisms and understand the true concept of hip hop.

The subject thus, as represented by Dyson, is an advocate for the hip hop culture with a strong feeling that the fans and followers of hip hop need not to be victimized for what they believe in and how they want to live their lives (Dyson 1).

Dyson is also himself an advocate for the culture that extends to the music and the dressing codes. He rose to the understanding of his subject, whom he met at a security check point. By appreciating the young man who was seemingly influenced by the hip hop culture, Dyson was in defense of the hip hop culture in the sense that the culture was being blindly criticized.

The comparison and contrast that Dyson held between the young man at the security check point and Dyson’s son equivalently describes a dual opinion held over the culture as he further hold the view that the young man whom he met was a proof that not all people in his generation are negatively influenced by the culture of hip hop.

The young man who is represented as a follower of the hip hop culture, though he possessed traits that were likable, together with Dyson are therefore seen as part of the group of people that have come up to support the culture of hip hop in general.

They have appreciated that being involved in the hip hop culture is neither a crime nor a social vice. In their opinion, elements of the hip hop culture such as the music itself or other elements like hip hop garments does not necessarily take away a person’s sensibility or capacity (Dyson 1).

Dyson in his defense for the hip hop culture also explains about critics of the culture on the other hand. He gives example of people such as jazz superstar, Wynton, who went ahead to publicly criticize the hip hop culture as an immature adolescent oriented practice.

Even stronger criticisms were enlisted from personalities such as Stanley Crouch who held the opinion that “the deficits of hip hop blare beyond the borders of ugly art to inspire youths to even uglier behavior” (Dyson 1).

One of the major reasons for such strong criticisms over the hip hop culture is its perceived influence to bad behavior. Some of the major drivers of the hip hop culture are also identified to be poor models to the youth in the society.

People like 50 Cent who rides in the popularity of the hip hop culture with his negative history of having survived nine bullets are identified as some of the negative influences that that are transmitted into innocent brains in the form hip hop culture. The elements of the culture such as dressing style, thus enlists these reactions among people.

The emergence of the culture of the hip hop dressing garments thus stands out to be a controversy between those who have been drawn into the culture together with those who have accepted and understood the culture on one hand and those who still strongly believe that the hip hop garment together with all other elements of hip hop are associated with negative behavior in the society. These two groups continue to be in conflict with each other (Dyson 1).

The hip hop garment controversy, or in general the hip hop controversy has been significantly felt in societies in a number of ways that range from domestic in social set up to political issues in the general public.

difference in perception among the opposing groups in the controversy over the hip hop garments, which is in most cases a result of manifestation of the dominance of the hip hop culture in an individual, has a potential to create further divisions among generations in a given society.

A responsible parent who holds the opinion that his or her child is being misled into negative behavior by the hip hop tradition might not be pleased and tolerant to the child who will at the same time be rebellious in order to protect what he or she believes in.

Tensions are therefore caused in social set ups due to the emergence of the culture and garments that are associated with hip hop. Influences of such culture also spills to economic and political issues of a society (Jones 1).

Cases have been reported in which the influence of the hip hop culture has led to negative and even criminal conducts by the youth. A case of a former student who fell for the influence a rapper, “Too $hort”, who was also a gangster saw the student fall into criminal activities leading to his prosecution.

The end result was that though the student did not face a severe penalty like his model who died in the hands of the police, he lost his financial support in college as well as his voting rights. The hip hop garments which are in most cases manifestations of the hip hop lifestyle can therefore have a variety of implications in the lives of those who acculturate the tradition in terms of political, social and even financial aspects.

Owing to the fact that the culture is majorly experienced among the youth and the fact that these youths forms a large percentage of the population, factors such as legal restraints arising from negative influence of such fashions are threats to political, social and economic developments of any given society.

Just as the hip hop garment fashion was a development and a promotion of the hip hop music, a fashion that is based on political or social aspects can be used as entry points to these avenues. Clothes with party banners can for example be used in campaigns.

The use of fashion together with its influence having proved to be effective in the hip hop music arena, its significance can therefore be similarly concluded in other aspects such as politics. The controversy over the hip hop garment still divides the opposing camp.

The youth still holds on to the meaning of the garment that spreads the influence of the music. The impacts of the influence of the culture such as imitating hip hop superstars’ bad behavior and experiences such as those of “Too $hort” still remains a threat to the behavior of those who adopts the fashion (Jones 1).

At the current trend of the hip hop influence one may be tempted to ask, so where will all this lead to? IT is true that the hip hop clothing culture is one of the fastest growing influences on the culture in the US. The youth will soon turn into parents and thus the society will be composed of families whose main dressing will be the hip hop style.

Should this raise any alarm? Personal I do not see the reason for any alarm. This reason for my stand is because this is just “mean renaissance” and such kinds of changes are prone to take place in any society.

The hip hop dressing should be viewed just like any other clothing. There is absolutely no alarm to be raised about the dressing. The only issue to be addressed is that of separating the negative influence which comes with the clothing.

If parents and authorities will be able to counsel the young generation to treat the dressing as such and avoid engaging in unwanted behavior just because they are in hip hop attire, then it would be a won war. Therefore, there is a need to channel efforts to ensure that hip hop attire are used purely as attires.


The hip hop garment fashion that is based hip hop music’s adopted culture has spread to be globally felt. The fashion has drawn a controversy between those who adopts or understands it and those who oppose it.

It is however identified that the impacts of the garment has been felt and is significant in political, social and even economic aspects of life.

The attire has been in most cases been associated with bad influence. As a matter of fact it may be very hard to restrict the use of this attire taking into consideration that it a way of expression and thus there is a need for efforts, as pointed above, to be channeled to encouraging the youth to purely treat the attires as such and not as springboards for carrying out social evils that are mostly associated with hip hop clothing.

Works Cited

Adams, Janis. Wisegeek, 2010. Web.

Deadboyle. Hip hop history. Blogigo, 2010. Web.

Dyson, Michael. . NPR, 2007. Web.

Jones, David. . NHI, 2004. Web.

Ultimate. . Ultimate Hip Hop, n.d. Web.

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