Urban fashion and music have always been closely related. Moreover, fashion has been and still is the essential tool with which artists express their personality and their visual concept as a public image.

Even so, in recent decades we have seen a fusion of haute couture and music, with Urban and Hip-hop artists dressed by brands such as Dior, Versace or Balenciaga, something that was practically unimaginable before.

J Balvin at the Dior fashion show for Paris Haute Couture Week, 2023

What is urban fashion?

Urban fashion or streetwear was born thanks to the exponents of Hip-Hop in the 90’s, consolidating to the point where this musical and cultural movement ends up spreading in all areas, reaching the haute couture.

However, it is interesting to highlight situations that were key in the evolution of this style in both music and fashion, as they set the trends that would be maintained for years to come.

Urban fashion or streetwear was born and consolidated thanks to the rappers of the 90s.

By the 1990s rap was becoming increasingly popular and, as a result, fashion and aesthetics were becoming more important to rappers, who began to invest time and money in their appearance and clothing styles.

By taking casual wear to a new level and mixing accessories and styles that fashion experts thought were too far apart, Hip-Hop laid the foundation for what would later become known as urban fashion or streetwear.

Even so, gradually this cultural movement was included in the scene of the time and ended up making a place among the most important fashion catwalks for the first time in 1996 by the hand of Tupac, who was the first rapper to model for haute couture.

Tupac walking the runway for Versace, 1996

One step closer for fashion and music

At this time, major clothing brands began to realize that they could no longer keep Hip-Hop out of the fashion industry, but were still reluctant to make way for the style of dress brought by this cultural and musical movement.

This is one of the reasons why, a few years later, many rappers began to create their own streetwear clothing lines, with the goal of making them representative of the culture and music they were creating.

Rappers started to create their own clothing brands with urban style

A perfect example of this is the rapper 50 Cent and his group G-Unit, which set the trend in the early 2000s. This Hip-Hop group decided to launch its own clothing brand, which bore the same name as the group, through an agreement with Marc Eckō, founder of the Eckō Unltd brand.

50 Cent's Twitter ad for his clothing brand G-Unit.

The urban genre: protagonist in the fashion shows

We make a time jump to 2017 and 2018, where we live again two moments that have favored that, today, the urban genre is practically the main feature in fashion shows.

In 2017, the collaboration between Gucci and Dapper Dan was born. Dapper Dan started designing clothes in the 80s in his store in Harlem, where he made custom pieces from garments of big brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton or Fendi, dressing the great rappers of the time like LL Cool J or Run-DMC and famous people like Mike Tyson.

Dapper Dan posing with his creations inside his store in Harlem, 1989.

In 2018, Virgil Abloh was named artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s ready-to-wear menswear line, the first person of African descent to hold this position. Thus, Abloh launched his first collection that same year at Men’s Fashion Week at Palais-Royal Gardens in Paris, with garments that would not go unnoticed.

With this style of clothing and Travis Scott as a special guest in the front row, Abloh and Louis Vuitton were announcing a major shift in the clothing brand, where it was leaving behind the refined and unaffordable style and moving closer and closer to urban fashion.

2023 and its "urban" fashion shows

Everything we have seen throughout this article culminates in fashion shows like the ones we have seen in January 2023, where the most prominent artists of the urban and rap genre have been the main motif of the events.

Rosalía, one of the most important representatives currently within the genre, was the one who opened the Louis Vuitton menswear fashion show with a groundbreaking streetwear style and her song playing loudly, something that clearly marked the essence of the presentation.

Rosalia opening the Louis Vuitton menswear show for Paris Fashion Week, 2023

As you can see, Rosalía stands out for being innovative and trying to be constantly updating the music scene as well as other areas. You can start doing the same by discovering what are the most important trends in the music industry in 2023.

Focusing on data like this shows us the power of music in all areas around us and, more importantly, how it can shape the evolution of history. Hip-Hop music and fashion of the 1990s and 2000s had a huge impact on popular culture, and its influence is still felt today.