Fashion was pretty crazy in the 80s and extended to every community and movement of the time. One of the most memorable movements of the time was of course hip hop, and it paved the way for future generations.
Aside from the music itself, the Hip Hop community was filled with memorable fashion trends that were about more than just the clothes themselves.
Hip Hop fashion was a statement, it was an expression of the music people were listening to through what they wore. 80s Hip Hop fashion brought people together and let them express themselves authentically.
Lots of the fashion trends of the time were of course inspired by the rappers of the time. People like LL Cool J, MC Hammer, and Run DMC paved the way for their fans to be able to express themselves exactly how they wanted to.
The 80s was an incredible time for fashion, and if you are fond of 80s Hip Hop fashion trends, then you’ve come to the right place! We’ll be taking a walk down memory lane and looking at these iconic fashion trends in a little more detail… so let’s get started!
The Best 80s Hip Hop Fashion Trends
From big rope changes all the way to tracksuits, there was absolutely no shortage of clothes that Hip Hop enthusiasts could express themselves in.
It was commonplace at the time to see everyone wearing these clothes and accessories and that extended to the rappers, or MCs, themselves.
The Hip Hop fashion of the 80s actually paved the way for the Hip Hop fashion of the 90s, and as we take a closer look at some of these fashion trends, you’ll definitely notice the influence!
1. Gold Hoop Earrings
Gold hoop earrings have been popular amongst women for many decades, and the 80s were absolutely no exception. When it comes to their place in Hip Hop, the most memorable person who wore them was Roxanne Roxanne, who was a well know rapper of the era.
Roxanne Roxanne’s influence really sparked a rise in the popularity of gold hoop earrings. They were great fashion accessories that were flashy enough that they’d get noticed, but classy enough that they weren’t too over the top.
If you were around in the 80s, then you probably remember a lot of gold hoop earrings being around!
2. Adidas Shell Toes
We couldn’t talk about 80s Hip Hop fashion without of course dedicating a spot to the classic Adidas Shell Toes. These shoes saw a rise in popularity when Run DMC recorded and released the song “My Adidas”. This song alone helped the sales of Adidas Shell Toes dramatically.
Run DMC was well known for their endorsement of the Shell Toes and would be seen wearing them pretty much all the time!
This of course sparked the fans and the rest of the Hip Hop community to follow suit and you’d find these classic sneakers being worn by almost everybody.
Run DMC once held a live concert where they asked the crowd to take off their Shell Toes and raise them into the air during one of their songs. This was done to pay homage to the shoes that reminded them of the neighborhoods they grew up in.
Another staple of Hip Hop Fashion in the 80s, tracksuits were the epitome of Hip Hop. Regardless of if you were a rapper or just a casual fan, you would no doubt own a tracksuit of your own.
Tracksuits were so popular because they were comfortable to wear while rappers moved around on stage and they could look both classy and relatable.
While lots of rappers did wear tracksuits in the 80s Hip Hop scene, this was another look that was popularized by Run DMC.
Of course, if you really wanted to up the cool factor while wearing a tracksuit, you would pair them with your Adidas Shell Toes just to prove how down with the kids you truly were!
4. Air Jordan 1
While Adidas really had its time to shine in the 80s, they weren’t the only sneaker brand that was popular in the Hip Hop scene. Another sneaker that was really popular was of course the Air Jordan 1s.
These shoes actually gained their popularity from basketballer Michael Jordan, who the shoe was named after and created for.
Music and sports were quite heavily connected during this era, and because everyone loved Michael Jordan, the Air Jordan 1s really had their time to shine.
Rappers started to wear the Air Jordan 1s and of course, this meant the fans started to wear them too. Air Jordans became so popular and even in today’s market, lots of people still swear by them as the best sneakers in the world.
5. Bucket Hats
If you were there in the 80s, one of the first things you’ll probably remember in terms of fashion is of course bucket hats. This particular type of hat was made popular by rapper LL Cool J, who would very rarely be seen without one on.
LL Cool J’s bucket hat style would go on to influence lots of other rappers of the time, some of which include Grandmaster Flash, Slick Rick, and of course, Run DMC.
As the bucket hat became more well-known, this fashion trend became another staple in the Hip Hop community as a whole.
You and everyone else knew someone was hip if they were wearing a bucket hat! While white bucket hats were extremely popular, they came in many different colors, so you could take your pick.
Bucket hats were so popular in the 80s that they spilled into the 90s, where they became a popular fashion trend of the time.
6. Rope Chains
Accessories were just as important as clothes during the 80s. The “bling” that you wore was really a representation of status and riches during this era. Rope Chains were absolutely outrageous as well- they were super big and super eye-catching.
It was in the 80s that rope chains really started to become popular. Artists like Kurtis Blow would pose with them on his album covers and this is how they slowly crept into the Hip Hop mainstream.
Every rapper of the time donned a rope chain at least once. Some of the most notable examples include Eric B, Rakim & Slick Rick, Run DMC, Big Daddy Kane, and LL Cool J.
Though rope chains were a symbol of status and riches, it also helped that they just seemed to go so well with the outfits of the time.
As the rappers got more successful, the chains also got bigger, so anyone who had the biggest chains would usually have the most money!
7. Bomber Jackets
Whether you were a part of the Hip Hop scene of the 80s or not, you definitely knew that bomber jackets were incredibly important. Quite literally everyone was wearing them, from the rappers all the way to the fans.
One of the biggest reasons bomber jackets were so popular in the 80s Hip Hop scene was because, like the Air Jordans, they were a way for the music scene to stay connected to the sports scene.
While sports and music are pretty separate entities now, at the time, they went hand in hand with each other, so people liked to be able to express their love for both in the way they looked.
Bomber jackets were worn by all the big rappers and MCs of the time, and this of course meant everyone else in the Hip Hop community ended up wearing them too.
8. 4 Finger Rings
It seems absolutely insane in this day and age to walk around with a 4 finger ring on your hand, but in the 80s this was one of the ultimate status symbols, especially for the Hip Hop scene.
Just like rope chains, 4 finger rings were another symbol of status and wealth, and they were an incredible way to make a statement. The 80s was all about making a statement with the clothes you would dress up in, and this was especially important in the Hip Hop scene.
Obviously, the bigger and more flashy your 4 finger ring was, the bigger and more flashy you were. While the concept might seem a little bit ridiculous now, 4 finger rings were incredibly important to rappers and fans in the 80s.
9. Troop Clothing
Troop was one of the biggest fashion and streetwear brands of the 80s and if you were there, you can probably remember seeing this brand everywhere.
Pretty much every single rapper or MC of the time endorsed and wore Troop clothing. Some of the most notable rappers to do so were LL Cool J, Chuck D, and MC Hammer.
The quality of the fabric was pretty good for the time, and they also made high-quality sneakers, which is a big reason why this brand did so well.
However, if you’ve never heard of Troop clothing before, then it’s not really a huge surprise. While they did dominate the Hip Hop scene for a time, a rumor started that claimed Troop clothing was run by the KKK and this absolutely devastated the whole brand.
Everyone stopped wearing it and Troop never really recovered.
The 80s Hip Hop scene will always be remembered. It was filled with incredible music and incredibly flamboyant fashion trends. From Adidas Shell Toes all the way to Rope Chains, these looks have gone down in history as some of the most important of all time.
If it wasn’t for the Hip Hop fashion trends of the 80s, there’s a very likely chance fashion as we know it today would be completely different!