From Professor X’s hat to Spike Lee merch and the Thom Browne dress Doja Cat wore on the red carpet in 2022, Fresh, Fly, and Fabulous, a new exhibition at New York’s Museum at FIT, traces the history of hip-hop style across 50 years. Elizabeth Way and Elena Romero, the event’s curators, talk through the importance of eight items – including one from Romero’s own archive – that changed fashion.
Sneakers were central to the hip-hop look from the start – Romero says people wore a range of brands such as Adidas, Converse and suede Pumas. Adidas Shell Toes were a favourite of Run-DMC, who wore them without laces. The group loved the shoes so much that they released the song My Adidas in 1986. Their appreciation of the shoes was shared by their fans. “They sang it [at a concert] and everyone put their sneaker up in the air. That is really an iconic moment in hip-hop,” says Way. “Adidas saw a huge uptick in sales; they sent a marketing person to New York to figure it out. And he ended up at this concert.”
Collaborations between hip-hop artists and brands today are commonplace, but this was the first of its kind. “It led to the multimillion-dollar endorsement, which was the first time that a hip-hop group had signed a deal like that,” says Romero. “It’s much later that hip-hop becomes a business. This was organic.”
The bucket hat dates back to farming communities and was worn on the TV show Gilligan’s Island in the 60s. Its association with hip-hop dates to the late 70s. In