Category: Articles

The Rise of Hip Hop Clothing

Hip Hop clothing

Hip Hop clothing is a known style of clothing originating from the depths of New York, LA, Chicago and some other major cities in America. Every city contributed their elements to make the overall Hip Hop style as seen worldwide today. Generally speaking, Hip Hop fashion complements attitudes and expressions of the Hip Hop culture as a whole. Hip Hop fashion is forever changing in its own history and today, Hip Hop clothing is a staple fashion across the world and all ethnicities.

Hip Hop Clothing 1980s

Late 70s, there was a few sportswear brands emerging into the Hip Hop scene. Brands include the likes of Le Coq Sportif, Kangol and Adidas.

Vintage 80s Adidas jacket

During the 80’s, Hip Hop superstars wore brightly coloured branded tracksuits, sheepskin and Clarkes shoes. Another big trend in Hip Hop fashion world was created by Dapper Dan. High net worth fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci were pioneered by Dapper Dan.

Accessories were also popular. These included large eyeglasses, bucket hats, name belts and big multiple gold rings. Other heavy gold jewellery was popular and would in general, become a staple of Hip Hop fashion. The big, heavy gold jewellery was considered a sign of prestige and wealth.

Hip Hop Clothing 1990 – 2000

In the early 80s Nike captured the soon to be superstar Michael Jordan. This proved to be a

huge turning point for Nike as they dominated the urban sneaker market in the early 90s. Brands such as Reebok, Kangol and Timberland as well as other were very closely associated with the Hip Hop scene.

1990 Air Jordans

East coast brought acts such as Wu-Tang Clan and Gangstarr sporting the Hip Hop look. Rap pioneers N.W.A popularized the gangster style consisting of Dickies, white t shirt, Air Jordan sneakers and Raiders snapbacks. Early 90s, starter jacket became something of a status symbol in itself.

Tommy Hilfiger was one of the most visible brands although Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and DKNY were also popular. Snoop Dogg wore a Tommy Hilfiger sweatshirt during a TV appearance, it sold out the next day in its New York City stores. Tommy Hilfigers popularity was due to exclusivity and people deemed aspirational.

Modern Hip Hop Clothing

Kanye West brand ‘Yeezy’

Today, fashion depends on celebrity status. Celebrities are releasing their own clothing lines such as Yeezy (Kanye West), Trukfit (Lil Wayne) and Outkast Clothing (Outkast).  These celebrities can sell out their clothing lines in minute’s even seconds with very little marketing. Kanye West boasted to sell millions of dollars’ worth of clothing in a few days.

Hip Hop clothing such as early Tommy Hilfiger, Le Coq Sportif etc are becoming more and more popular due its vintage style of tracksuit/track tops. People are paying good money to have these pieces of clothing in their armoury.

You will see the likes of Justin Bieber, Brooklyn Beckham supporting exclusive brands. Celebrities can take a small scale clothing line to a sell out overnight.

Check our range of Hip Hop Clothing here


There are a few companies, including ourselves, that are using the cut and sew method of printing. Why? Because it is the best way to get an all over t shirt/hoodie printed. There is a method that does not require the cutting of any fabric but there are some defects and we will look into that later on in this post.

How does Cut & Sew work?

Sublimation is a transfer process. You print your design onto a special release paper with sublimation inks. Once under the pressure of the heat press, these inks turn to a gas and then transfer/dye the fabric. You cannot feel the print and it is very soft to the touch. The main issue with this method is that the garment itself needs to be made of 100% or a very similar high percentage of polyester.

Cut and Sew is a printed fabric which the t-shirt or hoodie is then cut out of. This method is perfect as it has no defects and you can get the t shirt to any size/cut you want. Many clothing factories and even companies here in the United Kingdom can supply you with cut & sew t shirts.

It takes a long time and hard work to learn all of the expensive and complicated design software on offer so it’s much better and time efficient to hire a designer and they can supply you with a collection of designs (while you would probably still be learning the basics of a design software).


Getting Cut and Sew garments

You will have to approach a cut and sew manufacturer. Firstly, look in your local area and check their prices, try to negotiate deals and then compare the prices to the cost of importing from a different country.

The process of the Cut and Sew method

The process is slightly different than the sublimated printed garments. The fabric is sublimated printed as a whole and a t shirt or hoodie is then cut out of that fabric instead of printing directly onto the t shirt. The perks of this method is you cannot feel the print and is very soft.


Sourcing Cut and Sew clothing from overseas

Always remember, when importing from overseas, not only do you have to consider a minimum order quantity (MOQ) but you also need to be aware and include the shipping costs as well as import taxes. Depending on your destination country, shipping costs and the amount of taxes will vary.

Don’t forget the small stuff.

Now you need to either design or order in care tags. Most of the factories will add care tags to t shirts as an optional extra service. If you order your own care tags you will have to learn to stitch them in or yet again hire someone. We actually do this in-
house and it is highly recommended to put your own care tags in. No one wants to see who your manufacturer is!


What are “Sublimation” printed t shirts?

This printing method is similar to cut & sew but instead of the t shirt or garment being made from printed fabric, the design is directly heat pressed onto the t shirt just like the fabric you use for cut & sew. Now, this method is used usually for smaller order quantities but it has its downfalls. One of the major issues we don’t like is that 70% of the time you will get a misprint or actual creases in the t shirt where it naturally folds leaving white fold marks. This is not due to the person printing your t shirt but the way the fabric folds under pressure. Some companies try to eliminate this by putting a thin piece of cardboard in the t shirt in an attempt to keep the t shirt flat.

Once you have sent your designs off to the sublimation printing company they will then adjust the design to their needs. They will load your t shirt onto a massive press, place your design on it and press it under high pressure for a few seconds. They then peel back the transfer and your design has been transferred to the t shirt or item of clothing.

It is much more common to find local companies using this print method over the cut & sew method. Why? Because it’s a quicker way of doing it. Some people use this way of printing as they do not mind the crease/misprints. The misprints and creases usually tend to happen under the arms of the garment and is normally hidden from plain view but it is visible in darker designs. If you are doing smaller runs this would be the most viable way to print all over printed t shirts.