Many modern musical movements have had matching and parallel clothing fashions. Heavy Metal will forever be associated with big hair, leather and denim, the Mod movement of the 1960s (and its later 70s revival) with tailored suits and scooters, while flapper dresses will always conjure up images of the early jazz age. But perhaps the two most striking of recent years (and two of the most contrasting) are the punk and hip-hop movements. Let’s take a look at them in more detail.
Punk music and its anti-establishment message, originated in the 1970s and its music and fashion quickly became inextricably linked. Malcolm McLaren, the British ‘Godfather of Punk’ and his then partner, Vivienne Westwood, ensured that Punk had equally powerful musical and sartorial signatures. Even now, 30 years from it’s heyday, the ‘punk look’ is still instantly recognisable due to its unique and ageless style.
Arguably, hip-hop has an even stronger relationship with fashion than punk, although the nature of the relationship has developed very differently. In the early 1980s, many leading fashion brands associated themselves with the emerging hip-hop scene. This relationship fed back into the music with many rap artists referencing clothing labels in their lyrics, ‘My Adidas’ by Run DMC being a powerful example.
Despite hip-hop’s largely non-conformist anti-establishment message, its associated clothing labels are, generally speaking, mainstream fashion giants such as Kangol, Tommy Hilfiger and more recently, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Since the turn of the century, many hip-hop artists such as Diddy (Sean John) and Fifty Cent (G-Unit Clothing) have started their own, hugely successful fashion labels, further cementing the relationship between hip-hop music and clothing.
Punk clothing was in many ways the exact opposite of the almost uniform nature of early hip-hop fashion, it was never meant to be a uniform and has been described as anti-fashion. Its ripped jeans and safety pins symbolised the chaotic nature of the movement and the music. The original punks made their own outfits and their were no limits to their creativity.
The hip-hop movement continues to go from strength to strength as artists such as Fifty Cent and Jay-Z rack up huge record sales and further establish themselves not only as musicians, but as global brands. On the other hand, the punk movement has largely faded now, its raucous, uncompromising sound having been replaced with watered-down, radio-friendly imitations, but its non-conformist message can still be found inspiring clothing brands such as Volcom clothing, with its punky slogan – Youth Against Establishment.