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How hip-hop hit the runway

From Kanye West to Travis Scott, when fashion needed rap

How hip-hop hit the runway From Kanye West to Travis Scott, when fashion needed rap

There's a thin thread that connects February 12, 2015, to June 25, 2021, respectively the day when Kanye West presented Yeezy Season 1 during the New York Fashion Week and when Travis Scott, who is a bit Kanye's younger brother, hit the Paris Fashion Week runway along with Kim Jones to present his collaborative collection with Dior. In between there were years of courtship in which the world of fashion first used and finally exploited that of hip-hop, overcoming years of preconceptions and false myths with many difficulties. If the fashion system has long ignored anyone who came from hip-hop, that world allowed itself to be influenced and fascinated by big brands and logos shown off on any occasion. Precisely for this reason much of the hip-hop of the 90s based its aesthetic on the constant presence of fashion brands, often used as a symbol of success or simply as a way to scream "I made it".

Obviously, Kanye West and his ego, the one capable of convincing the Chicago producer and rapper, to be able to find a place in a world that up to that moment had always closed its doors to him, reversed the course. First, a partnership with adidas and then an internship at Fendi with his friend Virgil Abloh quickly led West to launch his apparel line, inaugurating a slow path that led to an increasing number of rappers collaborating in the creation of sneakers (Pusha-T, Big Sean, Tyler, the Creator and of course Travis Scott to name just a few) managing to impose rappers not only as cultural icons but above all as fashion icons capable of influencing trends outside the closed box that was the fashion system. With the advent of personalities such as Tyler, the Creator and A$AP Rocky, the imagery around hip-hop made of baggy jeans and very lavish chains has progressively given way to the taste of those figures who have become almost involuntarily first influencers and then fashion curators. To best describe this path there is Rocky's modelling career, who went from DKNY in 2014 to being the face first of Dior, then of Calvin Klein and finally of Gucci along with Tyler, the Creator, capable instead of imposing a style that some would define without too many problems "grandfather". 

To trigger this process, as mentioned, there was obviously a generational change in the world of hip-hop, but also the need for big brands to speak to a new, different and younger audience. A transformation that saw the arrival of new names within the same brands as the last step: from Virgil Abloh, who after bringing Kid Cudi and Playboi Carti on the catwalk for Louis Vuitton's S/S 22 referenced the Wu-Tang Clan, up to Kim Jones, who in his career has never hidden his passion for the extra sector. Just Jones decided to go a step further by calling Travis Scott to Dior, who before the French brand had got his hands on realities such as McDonald's, Fortnite and Byredo, building a reputation as a King Midas of collabs. Precisely for this reason, beyond the success or failure of the marriage between Cactus Jack and Dior, what matters is the meaning of the latter, a further step forward that opens the doors to any type of suggestion. Last but not least, a rapper as the creative director of a fashion brand.