Required reading for those interested in the Venn diagram of style, culture and music: “Hooking Up” by Jon Caramanica in the New York Times’ T Magazine–an article about the influence of hip-hop on today’s newly fired-up menswear.
SPOILER: Caramanica’s thesis is fashion runways used to influence the streets and now the streets influence the runways. The “direction of diffusion,” as he writes, has inverted. It’s also about men caring about fashion and being comfortable caring about fashion.
Below is a list of important hip-hop/menswear figures in the order Caramanica mentions them, which is more or less chronologically, with his excerpted characterizations.
1. Dapper Dan – was cooking up flamboyant luxury knockoffs
2. Raekwon – wore the brashest Polo
3. Grand Puba – made Tommy Hilfiger swing
4. Jay Z – began wearing button-up shirts–untucked, of course–as a nouveau riche gesture
5. Pharrell – hip-hop’s original hipster, who began as a trucker-hat revivalist and ended up as one of the world’s most vivid dressers, a widely embraced icon of casual luxury
6. Cam’ron – Harlem fabulist
7. Kanye West – pinnacle of hip-hop’s high fashion dreams
8. Yohji Yamamoto – [hip-hop’s] kinetic physicality was echoed in [the designer’s] billowy shapes, with pant legs that draped and gathered
9. Raf Simons – influenced by hip-hop when putting on runway shows that featured puffy hooded jackets paired with baggy trousers, or bomber jackets festooned with logos
10. Karl Lagerfeld – filled his runway [in 1991] with gold chains, slouchy leather, ball caps and denim, updating the B-girl for Madison Avenue
11. David LaChapelle – turned Lil’ Kim into a living, breathing Louis Vuitton satchel by covering her naked body with its logo
12. ASAP Rocky – one of the first rappers besides Kanye to be embraced by high fashion
13. Hood by Air and Nasir Mazhar – designers who are inverting the traditional direction of diffusion, moving from the street upward
14. John Elliott + Co – [the brand’s] saggy, skinny sweatpants and denim [symbolize] compromises between the apathy of then and the sleekness of now
15. Céline – [designer] Phoebe Philo is making knockoff Nike Air Force 1s, acknowledging that shoe’s foundational elegance at around eight times the price