A Guide to 90s Hip Hop Fashion

Many of us can agree that the 1990s was the golden era of hip hop and rap music. Artists like Tupac, Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z, and Snoop Dogg dominated the industry and gave us some of the best music the hip hop genre has to offer.

A Guide to 90s Hip Hop Fashion

With this era of music came iconic fashion that still has influence today. 90s trends continually resurface, especially those that were popular in the hip hop scene. 

Due to the aesthetic inspiration that 90s hip hop has given us in the modern-day, we are going to explore some of the most memorable and influential trends of the time. 

What Is 90s Hip Hop Fashion?

Fashion in the 90s among the hip hop and rap community mainly expressed itself through urban apparel and streetwear. It is heavily symbolic and incorporates a number of motifs, including civil rights, social awareness and justice, political activism, and Black history. 

Starting in small, marginalized groups in urban cities, hip hop fashion quickly went mainstream as rappers became more popular and showcased their own streetwear. This fashion aesthetic is still valued among all subcultures and communities 30 years later. 

Some of the most popular streetwear brands that became a part of hip hop culture include Nike, Adidas, and Puma, to name a few. The hip hop aesthetic has now evolved and is used in modern-day design among brands like Gucci and Supreme.

How Did 90s Hip Hop Fashion Begin?

Even before hip hop music became popular, hip hop fashion was a part of urban life. As artists in the industry gained more attention and the hip hop and rap genre became more mainstream during the late 20th and early 21st century, the aesthetic that came with it also saw the spotlight. 

Hip hop culture began in the Bronx in New York City during the 1970s. Hip hop and its aesthetic found their roots in this urban life, even having some 70s disco influence.

The classic hip-hop look that became popular in the 90s and still manifests in our culture today was catapulted to fame by Run-DMC.

Graffiti Clothing

During the beginning of hip hop’s rise to popularity, people from low-income houses used graffiti in the inner cities of New York to express themselves. It was part of the culture of hip hop and rap as an outlet for artistic expression.

Graffiti was an anarchic visual seen on the streets, trains, and subways of New York. This art eventually became incorporated into clothing and became a staple of 90s hip hop fashion.

With bold colors and larger-than-life design, graffiti clothing made its name in hip hop culture. A pair of graffiti artists named Shirt Kings started using their graffiti skills to create custom airbrushed t-shirts, creating the graffiti clothing trend.

Their clothing was in high demand, and Shirt Kings designed t-shirts for huge names in hip hop and rap, such as LL Cool J and Big Daddy Kane.

How To Style

Graffiti clothing is always a hit at any 90s-themed event. Tuck a white graffiti t-shirt into a pair of blue jeans for a classic look.

Timberland Boots

Another absolute staple of 90s hip hop fashion is the suede boots made by Timberland. These boots have been worn by almost every huge rap artist from the 90s, being particularly popular on the east coast. 

Incredibly, these boots were intended to be worn by construction workers, but they gained notoriety after being the shoe of choice amongst New York drug dealers to protect their feet from bad weather.

The hip hop scene adopted this trend and it became popular among artists from the urban areas of New York.

How To Style

Timberlands look great when styled simply. A white t-shirt and denim jacket work well with these suede boots.


The snapback is widely associated with 90s hip hop and was brought to the mainstream by Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. During the show, a young Smith adorned his snapback in many episodes of the show, bringing light to the trend. 

The influence of the snapback in fashion is still strong today, with many brands and artists bringing them back into popularity.

How To Style

Snapbacks make a great addition to any streetwear outfit! Wear them frontwards or backward to add some style to your look.


One of the more experimental trends in 90s hip hop fashion is dungarees. Both cool and comfortable, artists like Tupac and TLC turned these fun garments into a fashion statement. 

Just like Timberland boots, the durable all-in-one was made for construction workers as a protective work garment, however, it was quickly adopted by hip hop culture as part of their fashion repertoire.

How To Style

Dungarees are very versatile and come in different styles. You can wear fitted or baggy dungarees with a t-shirt or hoodie as a great look, with both shoulder straps on, both off, or just one off.

Oversized Clothing

Wearing clothes that were almost twice the size you needed was huge in the 90s hip hop scene. Oversized clothing became so popular that new brands were created that specialized in this kind of apparel, such as Phubu and Wu Wear.

These brands catered to their urban audience with some iconic pieces. 

Oversized clothing is still fashionable today as bold statements and can even be seen in luxury and designer brands.

How To Style

The best way to style an oversized jacket, sweater, or t-shirt is to create contrast. Try pairing an oversized piece with slim-fitting pants to pay homage to 90s hip hop while still looking trendy and up-to-date.

MLB And NBA Jerseys

MLB And NBA Jerseys

Throughout the 90s, sports jerseys were a common occurrence in hip hop and rap music videos. Often, artists would sport a jersey representing their home team.

Sports and hip hop have become synonymous with each other in urban culture, so it was common for hip hop artists to show their support. 

The most common jerseys used were those of NBA (basketball) and MLB (baseball) teams. They can be seen in videos for Jay-Z, Jermaine Dupri, and Will Smith.

How To Style

Sports jerseys look great in the summer months and can be worn over a t-shirt, or alone with jeans, sweatpants, or shorts for that sporty, hip hop look.

Kangol Caps

LL Cool J popularized the Kangol cap by wearing them in multiple music videos during the 80s and the 90s. With his influence, it became another memorable fashion trend.

Kangol also experienced a rise in sales after the urban movie New Jack City featured the cap as product placement, worn by Wesley Snipes and his group.

How To Style

Kangol’s iconic cap looks best with a full-set tracksuit or a hoodie with any cut jeans.

Bucket Hats

Much like the Kangol cap, bucket hats were a more affordable variation in the 90s, and saw a surge in sales thanks to Kangol.

Nowadays, the bucket hat is still worn, both in the hip hop scene and in contemporary fashion. It is especially popular at music festivals during the summer as a cool look and practical sun hat.

How To Style

A bucket hat is a great summer accessory and can be worn with all streetwear outfits.

American Sportswear Brands

Brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, and Fila were huge in the 90s among hip hop and rap artists. These brands became a part of the culture as artists wanted more sophisticated sportswear as a part of their aesthetic. 

A defining moment for hip hop fashion happened in 1994 when Snoop Dogg performed on Saturday Night Live wearing a Tommy Hilfiger polo shirt, gifted to him just hours before.

This appearance influenced other artists to add sportswear to their wardrobes. After the rise in fame of these brands, hip and hop artists were used to promote this clothing, such as Aaliyah in multiple marketing campaigns.

How To Style

There is endless potential for sportswear in fashion. Its versatility means you can incorporate it into any outfit.

Military Clothing

As hip hop artists gained popularity and their voices became more heard across the US, musicians like Tupac and Nas took the opportunity to speak on political issues. They used their platform to speak about the inequality and injustice that Black Americans faced at the time.

As a bold statement, many artists opted for military-style clothing, primarily green camouflage. It was used in music videos and during appearances to emphasize their message and symbolize the war on Black America.

Worn by big artists like Biggie Smalls and Das EFX, it spread their political message across the world, and soon became, and still remains, a prevalent 90s hip hop trend.

How To Style

For the complete look straight out of the 90s, pair military pants and a jacket with Timberland boots. For a more subtle nod to 90s hip hop, mix in a military item with your outfit. This could be a cap, jacket, or a t-shirt, for example.

Adidas Superstars

Back in the 80s, Run-DMC took the hip hop world by storm and made waves in the fashion that came with it. They partnered with Adidas, which was the first-ever sportswear and hip hop artist collaboration. After this partnership, they became cultural icons in streetwear and the hip hop aesthetic.

The popularity of Run-DMC being represented as black, urban youth meant that Adidas Superstars became another huge trend in hip hop culture that seamlessly transitioned into the next decade. Throughout the 90s, rap artists began signing more and more deals with famous sportswear brands.

How To Style

Adidas Superstars look great with the full assemble – an Adidas three-striped bomber jacket and sneaker. This truly represents a classic 90s look.

Plaid Shirts and Jackets

Flannel shirts and plaid jackets were staple pieces for hip hop and rap artists in the 90s, even more so on the west coast.

Popularized by artists like Snoop Dogg, this style was stylish while still being a simple, casual look. This trend even passed through other music cultures, like grunge and rock, worn by artists like Kurt Cobain. 

How To Style

This versatile piece is best worn oversized or tied around the waist. For more west coast influence, button up a flannel shirt and pair it with Converse shoes.

Pelle Pelle

Pelle Pelle gained massive popularity after many east coast rappers incorporated them into their hip hop fashion aesthetic. They were also one of the first brands to introduce baggy pants in the 90s, which became an iconic look in the culture. 

This brand began creating leather jackets for their urban market as demand grew. Many popular 90s rap artists from the east coast wore Pelle Pelle leather jackets in their music videos, rarely going without.

How To Style

You can rock a baggy Pelle Pelle leather coat in any way, but for a more contemporary look, you can choose to wear one of their fitted options.

Double Denim

During the 90s, a shift in the fashion industry occurred when urban brands like Karl Kani and Johnny Blaze noticed denim being worn fashionably rather than for workwear, which was its intended use.

While wearing double denim was also prevalent in other subcultures, like punk rock, the street scene adapted this style into their culture with more emphasis on baggy and oversized clothing. 

This look was worn by low-income individuals as an affordable way to express hip hop culture in the inner cities.

How To Style

Today’s fashion ideals dictate that when wearing double denim, you should wear two different shades. However, if you’re going for a 90s look then both your jacket and jeans should be the same denim shade. Try breaking it with a white or black t-shirt too.

Puffer Jackets

While the west coast hip hop scene had graffiti clothing and Timberland boots, the puffer jacket took the east coast by storm in the 90s.

They were designed for cold weather conditions on the east coast, however, hip hop artists took a shine to them and started to wear them, making them both stylish and practical.

The puffer jacket was most popular in the inner cities of 90s New York, often paired with Yankee caps, hoodies, and boots. 

How To Style

Puffer jackets look brilliant with jeans or sweatpants – pair with sweatpants for a sporty look, and pair with jeans for something more casual.

Bandana Print

Another world-famous 90s hip hop fashion trend is clothing decorated with bandana print. The bandana is infamously associated with gang culture, however, it was rebranded by west coast rappers and the print became a streetwear trend. 

The 90s saw west coast rappers wearing bandanas that represented their respective neighborhoods, and some were even ex-gang members, wearing red or blue bandanas to represent their allegiance to either the Bloods or Crips.

Naturally, this trend spread throughout the hip hop and rap community and was incorporated into rap music videos.

How To Style

Bandanas can be worn in a multitude of ways – it looks great as a headscarf, headband, neck gaiter, hair band, or on the wrist.

Urban Brands

Iconic urban brands gained popularity during the 90s in hip hop and rap culture. Karl Kuni, Lugz, and FUBU took influence from urban communities and soon became another staple of the culture.

These brands were said to have a competitive edge with this demographic because they showed an understanding of the trends in the community.

FUBU was one of the first Black-owned fashion brands that catered to the urban youth and Black America. It understood what streetwear was in the 90s and where it was going.

It became one of the most popular urban brands in hip hop culture, even garnering attention from LL Cool J.

The rapper took the brand to a new level of stardom when he freestyle rapped about FUBU while wearing a FUBU hat in a commercial for GAP. This generated millions for the company, and they didn’t have to spend a single penny on marketing.

How To Style

There is such a range of urban brands out there, so style these clothes however you like!


Multiple sports brands created their own tracksuits as one of the most popular pieces of clothing they manufacture. During the 90’s, brands like Fila and Kappa were well-known for their tracksuits, especially among hip hop artists.

The most popular of these tracksuits were high-end, made from velour and silk. They also came in breathable polyester and cotton for more practical use.

Tracksuits were used often by hip hop and rap artists when they were on tour and during photoshoots and interviews, as they were comfortable, flexible, and, of course, made them look the part.

How To Style

Uniformity is key when it comes to styling a tracksuit outfit. Your pants and jacket should match in both color and brand. For a cool 90s look, you can mix in other branded accessories, such as a Kangol cap, or a pair of Adidas Superstars.

Bomber Jackets

The bomber jacket is a fashion piece that is connected to hip hop and rap as a subculture. Like patched denim jackets among the punk rock community, bomber jackets became synonymous with hip hop culture and were seen everywhere in the 90s.

Like other popular fashion trends, bomber jackets were made popular by musicians like Run-DMC. Public figures in rap and hip hop influenced this fashion trend, as well as sports like baseball.

How To Style

Styling a bomber jacket is effortless. Just pair it with jeans and a t-shirt for a casual look, or for something smarter casual, pair it with some pants. Bomber jackets come in different materials, made for both warm and cold conditions.

How Has Hip Hop Affected Fashion?

Today, hip-hop is not just a part of mainstream culture but rather it is mainstream culture. With a combination of activewear and high fashion, hip hop fashion trends are still staples of the market today, especially with collaborations between artists and brands.

With access to any kind of style in the world, anyone can find streetwear to make iconic ensembles of their own that pay homage to the 90s hip hop scene, and the popularity of rappers along with technological advancement has allowed us to have these choices at our fingertips.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Hip Hop Fashion Did Men And Women Wear In The 90s?

Men’s and women’s fashion in hip hop culture differed greatly in the 90s. While men opted for baggy jeans, Timberland boots, and bandanas, women of the culture wore more fitted clothes, such as bell-bottom jeans, and tube tops.

While there is a contrast between the two, women still took inspiration from male hip hop fashion at the time.

Where Can I Purchase 90s Hip Hop Fashion?

Many brands, both designer and affordable, have urban streetwear in their collections, sometimes more so when the market demands it.

Variations of 90s-style hip hop clothing can be found in many popular retailers, and also in stores that specialize in vintage clothing. It may also be worth looking at online marketplaces and independent sellers to find the streetwear you’re looking for.

How Did Hip Hop In The 80s Influence Fashion In The 90s?

Hip hop fashion in the 1990s evolved from the 1980s hip hop aesthetic, as the urban community started getting influenced by traditional African-American dressing.

Bright colors, baggy pants, and headwear were key elements that inspired the beginning of hip hop fashion in the early 90s, and eventually became what it is today.

What Are The Most Popular 90s Hip Hop Fashion Brands?

The 90s saw an incredible amount of brands that either specialized in streetwear or were adopted by the hip hop and rap community.

Among independent urban brands, rap artists were often seen in Tommy Hilfiger, Fila, Puma, Pelle Pelle, and Kangol. Many hip hop fashion trends were set by artists, however, these brands perfected them.


Hip hop and rap music were a huge success in the 90s. It took so much inspiration from the urban culture of the time, and with it came incredible fashion moments.

Such an aesthetic and culture are still mainstream today and will likely continue to be seen in contemporary media for years to come. It is clear that hip hop is as innovative in fashion as it is in music.

Joseph Pais