The Cross-Section of Skateboard and Hip-Hop Style

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Skateboard & Hip-Hop Style Culture

Street style covers a broad spectrum. From putting a unique twist on runway trends to going against any trend just to prove a point. It embodies a style that is only pulled off with the appropriate culture or attitude backing it up. You won’t see captivating street style items at your local shopping mall, but rather some bits and pieces, that are then combined with unusual combinations to make a statement of expression and loyalty to the culture that it supports.

The more socially unacceptable the culture is, the louder the street style speaks. So it only makes sense that the two cultures of skating and hip-hop that have been struggling to be accepted socially have spoken loud and clear in their styles. But, how is it that they’re now intertwined styles although their cultures are still vastly different – music and skate.

The real question is how different are the cultures, really?

Before we get into the parallels and differences between skater style and hip-hop style, we must first define them both. Although their origins are different, we paint the picture of the typical skater and hip-hop enthusiast, only to find that we may have a hard time distinguishing who is who on the streets.

What is Skater Style?

We’ve all seen it and envied it, whether we’d like to admit it or not. That skater guy/ girl who actually pulls off dirty vans, socks pulled up to mid-calf with Cheetos on them, baggy shorts and a graphic tee with a unicorn on it, styled over a long white sleeved shirt, and of course, a Supreme bucket hat. This look doesn’t exactly scream high fashion, but the reality is au contraire.

Why is it that runways are trying to get their hands on this used-to-be grunge style?

Well, it all started back in the 60’s and 70’s  when the skate scene and style was born. It emerged as wearing clothes that were solely functional for skating. This included flat bottom shoes, such as vans to be able to skate properly and nail that flip-kick. Of course, any tight pants would limit your movement, so that’s why cargo pants and shorts became the base of the style.

The same went for shirts and hoodies. Loose fitting and functional was what it was all about. Although, funny thing is that it wasn’t until the 90’s that this style blew up. Why? Before the 90’s, skating was a sport that was only done by a few. Professional skaters, such as Rodney MullenDanny Way and of course, the iconic Tony Hawk made this sport really come to life with their daredevil stunts in skating and relaxed surfer/skater attitude. These skater’s (along with many other skaters) careers boombed in the 90’s and 2000’s resulting in the birth of skate brands. As per usual, many of these skaters became celebrities, thus encouraging them to start clothing lines, brands, and even video games to spread the legacy.

That’s where the skater style is thriving today – solely in the skate brands people are repping, whether they skate or not. Brand such as Plan B, Element, Zero, Birdhouse, Girl, Almost, Darkstar, Blind, Vans, DC, and Hurley are the some of the top brands where you can find head-to-toe skate style. What exactly does this look like?

Let’s recap:

  • Skater shoes with flat bottoms with the choice between high-tops and low-tops. Oh, and don’t forget to pull up your socks high to show off your shoes.
  • Baggy cargo(or chino) shorts and pants. Quite the opposite of short-shorts, these finish off at your knees and have a loose fit. As for pants, try a cropped (just above the ankle), wide-leg design such as the trusted brand Dickies pants.
  • Graphic tees and long-sleeved shirts to show a statement. The more branding and attention grabbing prints the better to show off the “skate-style”. Layering also is a great option to capture the aesthetic of a day at the skate park.
  • Hoodies and crew-necks are great options for colder days, and they follow the same rules as graphic tees. Remember, we’re making a statement here, so don’t be afraid of prints and bold colors.

I’m sure you’ve got an image in your head now of the skater style. So now let’s take a jab at hip-hop style.


What About Hip-Hop Style?

If you’re a fan of hip-hop music you’ll agree that it’s all about style, soul and expression. Just as skater style, hip-hop style was birthed in the early 70’s in the Bronx in New York City.  A Dj named Kool Herc decided to extend the “breaks” of a record during a block party jam, forever changing the way music was played. Although, hip-hop isn’t just about the music. Just as skating, it’s also a sub-culture that is highly socially misunderstood. While many think that it revolves only around gangs, drugs, and violence, hip-hop’s roots are much different.

The origin of the culture reflects young, urban, working-class African-Americans, who are speaking out after being misunderstood and mistreated. Plus, the most talked about pillars of hip-hop are MCing/rapping, DJing/scratching with turntables, break dancing, and graffiti. It’s clear hip-hop is a form of expression, and the louder the better.

When it comes to hip-hop style, your style is your voice. It’s your rap. Considering we’re talking about the working-class, low-price tag items were a reality.  Dickies became popular due to their functionality and durability, in addition to the fact that you could wear them nearly anywhere. Of course, baggy t-shirts blew up considering there were cheap and played as a blank canvas. mRemoving the logos, tagging gang names or customizing the shirt to be uniquely theirs was what it was all about. We’re talking about non-conformity here.

In this culture, wearing a suit is saying that you conform to the corporate life and you’ve allowed them to take your freedom. With hip-hop on the rise, successful rappers were spotted more and more with brand names such as Timberland, Lees, Addidas (back in the day) and now more recently, brands like Stussy and Supreme. Sporting these brands paired with gold grills and chains was a symbol to show that they’ve made it. But, now they aren’t exactly walking into high-end stores and buying racks of clothing.  Only select brands were willing to work with hip-hop artists, who could be drug-dealers or have criminal records. Although, as the culture becomes more popular, mega brands are asking hip-hop artists to sport their brands, compared to back when hip-hop started they would refuse this subculture to even enter the doorways of their stores.


Where They Meet

Although the origins of hip-hop originated on the East Coast, while skating has made its breakthrough from the West Coast, it’s clear that putting two marginalized subcultures side by side, you’re bound to find some parallels – no matter their geographical location. In terms of style, it’s not a coincidence that low-price-tag Dickies and basic tees are prominent in both styles. It’s not a coincidence that both styles started out with unbranded items to reflect the “unacceptable” cultures to society.

The concept of making it through another day on the streets spoke loudly to both cultures as the 70’s turned into the 80’s and the 80’s to the 90’s. Through this progression of the cultures over the decades, the popularity has increased at the same rate as the marginalization. Segregation was becoming more and more between the streets and the high society. As segregation became prominent, so did the voice behind the segregated.

So much that currently, the skater and hip-hop style is not so much composed of cheap un-branded t-shirts and inexpensive Dickies. The opposite is actually the reality. Top skater and hip-hop brands are now taking over, and kids, teens and adults everywhere are repping them to stay on trend. Although, the history of these styles are brought from the bottom up – they are now intertwined from the top, dripping down to every type of consumer collectively merging the styles,  and cultures attempting to mend the societal gaps.