11 Hip Hop Cliques That Changed The Fashion Game

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With Kendrick Lamar appearing in Vogue’s September issue alongside designer Alexander Wang and model Anna Ewers. We look at eleven times hip hop cliques have changed the face of international fashion, in order from the beginning till now.

11. Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five


One of the first hip hop crews set the bar for those who followed with their outlandish outfits, based on the funk icons of the 70s. The Furious Five were heavily influenced by James Brown, Parliament & Funkadelic and Prince with their tight jeans and colourful shirts. It’s hard to imagine hip hop taking such a flamboyant stance now but this era shows the vastness of the scene. Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel rocked these outfits on the streets of The Bronx, imagine seeing this site in 2015!

10. Run DMC

run dmc fashion

Run DMC arguably have had the greatest impact on not only hip hop fashion but casual wear worldwide. DMC has stated that before him, rappers such as The Furious Five wore what their heroes in the charts were wearing but Run DMC had emulated what their heroes on the streets were rocking. Before Run DMC, Adidas was seen as a choice footwear for those who couldn’t afford designer wear. After Run DMC hit the stage, the youth worldwide were begging for shell toes and stripes over Calvin Klein and Gucci. The Hollis crew made it fashionable to be street with not only the Adidas but also the gold chains and bucket hats. How many other rappers have adopted this look ever since? The Run DMC logo itself has left a mark on branding concepts ever since.

9. N.W.A.

nwa black

NWA are infamous for making the mainstream normal to be normal. Eazy E, Ice Cube, DJ Yella, MC Ren & Dr Dre not only revolutionised pop culture with their lyrical content but also with their swag. Gone were the days of the flashy disco outfits of The Furious Five and in came the plain black tee! Eazy believed the simple look itself would be a statement that they didn’t conform and the crew made it a uniform of their own.


native tongues

While NWA were serving an anger fuelled revolution on the west coast, De La Soul, Jungle Brothers and A Tribe Called Quest were landing a peaceful protest on the east side. Together with the use of eclectic samples that would take on an increasingly jazzy sound, they would be pioneers of conscious, alternative, and jazz rap. Dashikis, flowery shirts and vibrant head wear were all tools to match with what was classed as the Daisy Age of New York hip hop.

7. TLC

tlc dungarees

When the 90’s kicked off, so too did a more youthful wave of hip hop. dungarees, wild prints, and imaginative ensembles started to catch on. TLC gave the ladies their own image and helped changed the misogynistic stance that the newly risen gangsta rap subculture had create.

6. Death Row

snoop dogg tupa

Tupac and Snoop went from gangsta to gangster with garments that represented Al Capone and Lucky Luciano. This move was well suited as Death Row was surrounded with mafia culture in the form of Suge Knight’s dodgy deals of forcing business with violence. The likes of Tha Dogg Pound also brought the Crip Fashion to the masses with their baggy trousers and blue bandannas.

5. Wu-Tang Clan

wu tang fashion

The Wu had such an influence on the youth’s stance on culture that a series of merchandise was produced as a result. Baggy jackets, oversize tees and even video games were collected by teenagers who wanted to be just like Meth, RZA and Ghost. This look gave birth to other similar fashion styles that were adopted by the likes of the Ruff Ryders.

4. Roc-A-Fella

jay z damon

The turn of the century saw an influx of rappers trying their hands at designing fashion lines of their own.  Jay-Z co-founded Rocawear with Damon Dash in 1999, which subsequently skyrocketed. Other rappers soon followed with Puff Daddy (Sean John,) Pharrell (Billionaire Boys Club,) and 50 Cent (G-Unit).



At the turn of this decade, YMCMB had a monopoly on the swag culture that had arisen. Teens were shouting YOLO while drunk driving and their Young Money cap went flying on the dashboard. YMCMB have had another huge impact on society in the form of Nicki Minaj. Beauty companies worldwide have marketed products for girls to get the rapper’s unique powdered look, matched with fake eye lashes among other fake body parts…


asap mob

Rocky and crew have dropped the traditional street wear in favour of high fashion. The Harlem outfit have been seen adopting Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, and Maison Martin Margiela. Rocky has also been seen on the runway s around the world and has even dropped the track, Fashion Killa.

1. Black Hippy


In another east coast/west coast parallel, TDE have seen themselves roar to success while rocking exactly what they have been wearing while on the streets of South Central LA. In an era of emphasis on money and clothes, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q and Jay Rock send a message that being yourself gives you the most swag. “I ain’t rockin no more designer shit, White tees and Nike Cortez, this is red Corvettes anonymous.” K Dot shouts in his groundbreaking Control verse. Each member has a naturally adopted image that’s unique to each them. Kendrick’s nappy hair, Soul’s shades, Q’s Bucket hat and Rock’s hustler white tee are all iconic on their own right.


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