NEW YORK (WABC) — Flashback roughly 30 years ago to the bright colors, the baggy outfits, and the denim.
“We realized that there wasn’t a company in the business that had this streetwear look,” said Carl Jones, Cross Colours.
Fashion company Cross Colours stepped in at a time when Hip Hop was taking off, drawing inspiration from West Coast and New York City style.
“We just felt and saw this energy and oversized look on very young people 17, 18, 19, jumping on the subway,” Jones said. “Here comes Hip Hop, it sort of adopted us, I think, before we had really adopted them.”
Popular Black sitcoms made the style even more popular.
“That was our Instagram,” Jones said. “From that exposure, we figured out to set up a way to work with record labels as well.”
“The up-and-coming artists during that time were the likes of Tupac, Snoop, Dre,” said Thomas Walker, Cross Colours.
Another pioneer of urban streetwear was Brooklyn’s Karl Kani.
“Back in the days when a lot of kids are trying to break dance and doing all the dance and the splitting and the spinning. It was really hard to do that with tight-fitting clothing,” Kani said. “My idea was to make the waist fit you and just make the legs bigger. Hip Hop fashion trends continued to spread.”
“Hip Hop gets its dressing roots and swagger from the street guys, but they needed their own little flair to that,” said Dapper Dan, a fashion designer.
Dapper Dan took luxury logos from high-end brands and created looks artists rapped about.
“You like Ralph Lauren, he gives you one horse. I’m going to give you a whole herd,” Dapper Dan said.
Dapper Dan’s logo mania was part of a growing movement that turned Hip Hop style into a multibillion-dollar industry.
“By the time you got to the ’90s and Hip Hop music becoming mainstream. Now we start seeing a number of Black and brown entrepreneurs launching their own brands,” said Elena Romero, fashion journalist. “Cross Colours between 1990 and ’99, before they made $100 million, Fubu by 1998, made $350 million.”
“People told us, they said, ‘Hip Hop is not going to last,’ Hip Hop told us something else,” Jones said.
Fifty years after the birth of Hip Hop, these fashion icons are now dressing a new generation, continuing a legacy of Hip Hop style and culture.
Watch our half-hour special ‘The Bronx and Beyond: 50 years of Hip Hop’ airing on Eyewitness News at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, August 11, followed by a one-hour extended look on Channel 7 at 1 p.m. on Sunday, August 13. Both editions will be made available to stream on-demand at ABC7NY.com or our ABC7NY app on Roku, FireTV, Apple TV and Android TV.
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