A Guide To Men’s 80s Hip Hop Fashion

The 1980s were the second decade of Hip Hop, and it was during this time that the new brand began to develop its own sound and style. 

Musicians like  RUN DMC, LL COOL J, and Eric B. & Rakim established a standard by dressing as regular people within the Bronx and around New York. As a result, 80s Hip Hop Style is a combination of urban, sport, and high fashion.

A Guide To Men’s 80s Hip Hop Fashion

This period of transition in the 1980s would go on to provide the groundwork of 90s Hip Hop Fashion, with items like air Jordans, bucket hats, and full tracksuits being worn in the 1990s and still being worn today.

This article will discuss 80s hip hop fashion for men, including the history and culture behind this unique dress style. 

The History Of 80s Hip Hop

Hip hop in the 1980s was heavily influenced by disco and funk music. Hip hop dance music was created by rappers like Kurtis Blow. 

Hip hop music was growing popular by the mid-1980s, thanks to performers like Run DMC, who integrated rock music throughout their raps to appeal to a wider audience. 

Rappers such as LL Cool J began incorporating melodic hooks into their tracks to make them more “catchy” or memorable. Raising Hell was hip hop’s first top ten album, debuting in 1986.

Gangsta rap began to emerge around the late 1980s, with groups like N.W.A. speaking out against societal issues.

The 1980s are frequently acknowledged as the period that revolutionized hip hop due to its enormous popularity and radical change in style.

80s Hip Hop Influences

Hip hop throughout the 1980s was affected by a number of external influences.

The music of hip hop’s “Golden Age” developed swiftly, becoming more substantial and avant-garde than hip hop during the 1970s as a result of social discontent and technological improvements.

Jazz, blues, R&B, and other earlier genres of music impacted 1980s hip hop. However, it was the lyrics’ more “genuine” and developed content that distinguished 1980s hip hop from its antecedents in the decade before. 

The social and political challenges of the 1980s served as inspiration for 1980s hip hop, as musicians in the genre started speaking out against issues affecting urban Americans like drugs and police brutality.

Technological developments that made it possible for musicians to switch from turntables to sampler machines, which were more economical and effective for generating music, also had an impact on 1980s hip hop.

As a result, the advancement in technology for music production gave artists greater freedom to experiment and be creative, as evidenced by the use of electronic music in some of the decade’s songs of that genre.

Hip Hop Fashion In The 80s

Due to the obvious newly established fixation with exhibiting one’s wealth through garments, fashion of the 1980s was dramatically different to that of the 1970s. 

It all started with the footwear. Puma, Fila, TROOP, Reebok, and, following Run DMC’s release of “My Adidas,” Adidas, were among the most popular shoe companies.

Jordans, another iconic shoe brand from the 1980s, began with the release of the original Jordan 1 in 1985.

The Kangol bucket headgear and track suit look were popularised by LL Cool J. Dapper Dan’s fashion influence was vital to the 1980s, even except he was shut down since being sued by many major fashion brands. 

He created garments out of handbags he dismantled from brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Fendi.

The 1980s were also recognised for their opulent and massive jewellery, which was created by brands like Ben Baller.

Big 80s Fashion Hits For Men

Big 80s Fashion Hits For Men

Shell Toes by Adidas

RUN DMC wrote the song “My Adidas” in the mid-80s, which became an instant hit and influenced the public to buy Adidas Shells at the time.

The song’s success led to the first $1 million contract of both a hip hop group and a sporting partnership.

Run DMC brought adidas managers to a live performance where the group instructed the audience to hold their footwear in the air while the song was being performed.

Run DMC was adamant about dressing like the people in their villages and neighbourhoods, who wore adidas shell toes a lot of the time.

The track reflected the group’s life and style, allowing Hip Hop to adopt the shoe for the rest of the 1980s.


Fila and Kappa, two sportswear labels, dominated the 1980s with their highly sought-after tracksuits.

Whereas the 80s design and vibe could be defined as loud and showy, Hip Hop performers opted for more comfy clothing on the other hand.

Aside from looking excellent with their sporting details and patterns, 80s tracksuits gave a lot of comfort and a look that is still popular now because of its nostalgic charm.

As a result of the hip hop community’s fondness for tracksuits, brands began to experiment with different textiles, such as silk, nylon, and velour.

Air Jordans

Due to Michael Jordan’s influence and the association between music and athletics, Air Jordan 1 was a popular sneaker throughout the 80s Hip Hop fashion. What began as a sporting sneaker quickly gained popularity among rappers in the 1980s.

The Air Jordan 1 through 4 were released by Nike and Jordan, and they became the standard for fashion in the 1980s and 1990s.

Since then, references to Air Jordans have appeared in music, television, cinema, and sports, indicating that they are still a hot topic of conversation today.

Dapper Dan Attire

In the 1980s, Dapper Dan introduced High End Luxury clothes to the Hip Hop community.

In the 1980s, artists who donned tailored clothing created a name for themselves thanks to Dapper Dan’s makeover of High-End Fashion, which included updated trademarks from Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci, gave opulent clothing a street vibe and gave it an 80s Hip Hop style of clothing.

Dapper Dans’ inventions can be seen across the 1980s, including on the album covers of Eric B. & Rakim, Salt-N-photo Pepa’s shoots, and LL COOL J’s music videos.

Dapper Dan talked to GQ about his early business endeavours in the 1980s in Harlem, his celebrity clients, and the Gucci Partnership.

Kangol Bucket Hats

Kangol bucket hats gained popularity thanks to LL Cool J, who made it a part of his characteristic style in the 1980s.

Hip Hop started to develop its musical identity at the same time that it started to dress in a way that made statements through clothing, as the Kangol did.

During this time, Grandmaster Flash, Slick Rick, and Run DMC would all be influenced by the tradition started by LL Cool J.

The public was drawn in by this Hip-Hop exposure, and soon the 1980s would be crowded with people wearing the hat to accentuate their street style.

Track Jackets

The B Boys, who were in charge of introducing the break dancing component to Hip Hop in the 1980s, are linked to the track jacket.

The adoption of sports track coats was the first significant trend in B-Boy attire during this time.

Break dance on the street in the 1980s was made possible by the track jacket, which is typically utilized as a tracksuit or just as a separate item.

Rope Chain

Records of jewelery go right back to the beginning of the 80s during which singers like Kurtis Blow stood on music albums with gold chains. 

Rope chains were a part of the styles of prominent artists such as LL COOL J, Rakim & Slick Rick, and Big Daddy Kane among others.

The primary function of jewelery was to convey status and wealth, which would also complement the flashy costumes that rappers used to make statements in the 1980s.

Label spending increased along with the culture, which inevitably led to artists receiving larger chains. The 80s’ status symbol was the rope chain, which was popular during this time period.

Bomber Jackets

Certain fashion items such as bomber jackets are associated with and synonymous with underground movements.

As Hip Hop started to merge with sports, the bomber jacket experienced a major surge in popularity.

Following the impact of artists like RUN DMC, 80s baseball bomber jackets gained popularity during this time.

Snapback Hats and Starter Jackets

Sports memorabilia had a significant role in 80s hip hop fashion due to the obvious relationship between sports and music.

In 1983, artists were able to support their individual hometown teams through merchandise thanks to official licence agreements with the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

Sneakers & Clothing By Troop

Troop, which had received the support of the top performers at the time, was one of the major streetwear companies associated with Hip Hop in the 1980s.

Troop quickly amassed millions of dollars in revenue and the respect of the hip-hop scene. Because of the brand’s premium materials and design, artists like LL COOL J, Chuck D, and MC Hammer have worn clothing and sneakers from it.

Four-Finger Rings

Four-finger rings were frequently used to further convey prestige and riches throughout the 1980s, when chains were the preferred jewellery item.

The 80s were all about producing statement outfits, which four finger rings encouraged, as we’ve highlighted numerous times in this post. Big Daddy Kane deserves a lot of praise for making this fashion trend!

Hip Hop artists like 2 Chainz maintain the legacy by incorporating this 80s aesthetic into their signature looks today.

Final Thoughts

Since 80s hip hop music and style have long been associated, they both belong to a bigger cultural phenomenon that has endured for decades.

In the 1970s, the Bronx district of New York City gave birth to the fashion, which saw various variations throughout the years.

By the late 1980s, it had evolved into a movement and a means of self-expression for individuals who wore it.

The fashion was employed to honour black nationalism movements and African heritage.

The essential fashion components you need to wear 80s hip hop fashion were provided in this guide.

Joseph Pais