Adidas the German sportswear brand has monopolised their sector with ease, whilst being recognised as possibly one of the biggest global influencers in hip hop. The relationship of streetwear, hip hop and fashion goes way back one of the popular historical stories was between Run DMC and adidas.
Imagine, 1986 a male trio of young, black, fashion-leading rappers from Queens, New York who possessed the game changing influence that adidas desperately needed.
Run DMC was already wearing Adidas tracksuits, they wore their trainers with or without laces the huge tongues flopped out. It was when Run DMC played out in Madison Square Gardens on their Raising Hell tour that a representative from adidas was also in attendance. He was totally mesmerised by what he saw…tens of thousands of fans holding up their adidas trainers upon the direct request of Run DMC. That night what he witnessed was the power of hip-hop and within days Run DMC become the first hip-hop group to receive a million-dollar endorsement deal that saw the release of the super dope track “My adidas” with a huge advertising campaign.
Fast Forward to the 21st century and the new scene “hypebeast” the word given to consumers hungry for hyped up streetwear drops, expect to see people queued up on pavements waiting to be part of the latest release. The latest fad is to queue up, buy in abundance and resale to the highest bidder it’s big business with its own economy.
Streetwear – trainers, hoodies, printed T-shirts, tracksuits and outerwear – made fashion houses such as Alexander Wang and Givenchy big bucks and popularity. The trend takes its cues from the hip-hop culture, rappers RUN DMC, LL COOL J and names like Slick Rick had already formed their own unique style. In suit followed Missy Elliot and Lil Kim the style emerged from young black and Latino people of the ghettos, who were experiencing various forms of racial and social subordination. Wearing the illest affordable outfits sometimes handmade matched with sportswear. It wasn’t just about wearing the look, but symbolising how your crew rocked, they didn’t have much but they created style and trends that the fashion houses had to see.
In today’s world streetwear lives simultaneously on the streets it’s original home, on the catwalk and in the boardroom. Rapper Kanye West’s commercial selling strength and collaboration with Adidas, presented the perfect cross-over where streetwear/basic essentials become high fashion. West has been know to sell $1 million worth of Yeezy merchandise within an hour of opening his pop-up store.
Supreme located in New York is another streetwear brand, taking up relationships this January Louis Vuitton in one of the most seen collaborations. Supreme on the runway with Louis Vuitton meant again streetwear and luxury fashion can hold the same weight.
Sacha Jenkins, who directed the hip-hop fashion documentary Fresh Dressed, says streetwear developed over the next decade within the black community. “People were buying their pants too big but no one was monetising it,” he says. “People were like: ‘Wait a minute, there’s a business model here.’” Fubu, short for For Us By Us, was set up by Daymond John in 1992, selling streetwear’s oversized tracksuits and T-shirts with bold prints, by 1999, global sales totalled £228m.
Question though as times are changing will we call out luxury brands for making huge profits as the streets continue to be appropriated notoriously by the white world of high fashion? Look out for DappEE Dan x Gucci collaboration after Alessandro copied one of Dapper Dan’s designs.