Beginning in the late 1970s the hip hop culture emerged, bringing with it a distinct style of dress. This style of clothing was and continues to be a reflection of the social statement the music from which it hails represents. The popularity of hip hop clothing is seen to cross many cultural barriers while continuing to challenge what is considered the norm. Since its emergence, the popularity of this clothing has transcended the African-American urban movement from which it began and is now recognized for its global popularity, though it is still credited as being a style with entirely American origins.
In the early 1980s when hip hop clothing started to make a place for itself in the world of fashion, the choice wardrobe piece was a name-brand track suit. Favored in bright hues, the style dictated that they be worn in large sizes and not be form fitting. The accessories most commonly worn with this ensemble were large sunglasses called Cazals, along with heavy jewelry and chains. Adidas sneakers saw a climb in popularity at this time, as this was the choice sneaker, as well as the brands of Kangol and Pro-Keds.
As the early 1990s appeared, hip hop clothing became a bit more mainstream than it had originally been. This style was becoming increasingly popular with the youth. Not only was the popularity of the style invading many high schools, but it was also seen on runaways of the high fashion world. It was also during the 1990s that big-name designers began to markedly include hip hop clothing in their lines. Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Ralph Lauren, among many others, featured distinctly hip hop designs. At this time, the look became decidedly more dressy, including double-breasted suits and silk shirts as part of the hip hop style of the time.
This decade also marked the break from clothing styles that were similarly worn by both men and women. Up until this point, hip hop clothing for both men and women was characterized by over-sized garments, big pants, and flannel shirts. As of the 1990s, men were seen in looks that hearkened back to Al Capone and other well-known gangsters. Women's clothes were now trending toward a more feminine and glamorous feel. Hip hop clothing truly had become a mainstay in fashion.