Sagging is a largely male fashion trend that involves wearing the pants at a level on the body below the traditional position on the waist. The style is traditionally worn with baggy clothing and is associated with American hip hop culture, though it has been adopted by several other subcultures. It is commonly accepted that wearing low-slung pants originated in the prison system, and was initially displayed outside of prison with the rise of American gangsta rap culture. Sagging pants is often viewed as a subcultural expression of rebellion against traditional societal norms. Consequently, several controversial school and city clothing ordinances have been passed against sagging throughout the United States.
As belts are often not allowed inside of the US prisons, it is speculated that the trend of wearing low-slung pants originated as a result. The trend emerged outside of prison culture with hip hop artists associated with the gangsta rap style in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Gangsta rappers often pursued a criminal image and became saggers to refer to prison clothing. Sagging, however, soon became common among young American males outside of gansta rap culture both inside the hip hop scene and outside of it.
The sagging trend is generally restricted to male dress and is often paired with visible boxer shorts, oversized shirts, or a combination thereof. Many saggers wear oversized, baggy pants that are easily sagged. As a result, a belt is often required to hold the pants in place, though the belt will also be worn loosely to allow the pants to droop. The style is highly variable and throughout the 1990s became increasingly popular with numerous additional cultural groups, including skateboarders and snowboarders. In fact, early in the 21st century the practice became fashionable in combination with very tight pants, such as skinny jeans.
Owing to its historic association with subcultural groups, the practice of sagging is sometimes viewed in the US as indicative of the potential for unlawful behavior. As a result, numerous school and city clothing ordinances have been passed into regional legislation within the US against the wearing of low-slung pants and have categorized the style as indecent exposure. These ordinances are highly controversial and are sometimes perceived as carrying the possibility of racial undertones or, at minimum, discriminating against subcultural groups. Nonetheless, the practice of sagging has emerged as a cultural fashion trend in numerous areas outside of the United States and is largely responsible for the trend of low-rise pants which, in fact, are slightly sagged pants.