“Fashions fade, style is eternal” Yves Saint Laurent

“Music expresses what cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent” Victor Hugo

“Clothes are a good ad for living another life” Stefano Gabbana



Fashion can be easily substituted for music. For decades they have been used as synonyms and as a vehicle for self-expression. Fashion and music are two of the most creative industries and when they come together they create something that’s individual and unique and take it to level that’s never been reached before.



Music has a direct influence on the world of fashion.



1) How has rock music inspired fashion?

2) How has African/cultural music inspired fashion?

3) How has Hip-Hop inspired fashion?

4) Who are some of the main African-American influences on fashion today?

5) Why are there less African Americans in the fashion industry than white people?


Rock 'n' Roll

When rock and roll first emerged in the 50’s it was seen as a rebellious musical genre. Rockers were known for their non-conformism and anti establishment ideas. These ideas were manifested by the clothing that singers, band members, and fans of the cult following wore. British designer Vivienne Westwood would wear shirts portraying Nazi symbols and destructive words such as "destroy" not because she was a Nazi follower but because she wanted to rebel against society. From then on rockers have been wearing clothes that portray a rebellious attitude. "Rocker Chic" has recently become back into fashion and just like in the 50's it has been received with a warm welcoming from rock followers to indie listeners and average girls alike. French design house Balmain featured rock inspired frocks in its last few collections. Leather shorts, ripped shirts, and skinny jeans, attire worn by rock stars like Mick Jacker and Keith Richards, have been seen all around the world. People have been wearing Balmain and rock inspired looks so much that there is now a term for people pursuing "rocker chic." They are called "Balmainetes" because Balmain was the first design house to bring rocker attire back in style. ROCK ON!

Fig 1. This is a picture of Keith Richards, member of the Rolling Stones. This picture portrays a typical rocker attire, tight, leather, and black
Fig 2. This is a photo of the band Guns n Roses. Much like the picture of Keith Richars, these band members are wearing rock inspired outfits evident by their leather and denim accents

Fig 3. This look, from the Balmain Spring 2010, is a modern day representation of "rocker chic."

Fig 4: This is a photo of the infamous "Destroy" shirt worn by Vivienne Westwood. This demonstrates the rebellious side of rock music.


Fig 5. These five looks are from Isabelle Marants fashion show. Much like the look from Balmain these outfits portray a more modern take on "rocker chic"

Waiting on the World to Change by John Mayer

Waiting on the World to Change is a song of of John Mayer's Continuum Album. Throughout this song there is a repeated example of call and response. When Mayer calls "We keep on waiting" he is responded with "Waiting."

Here is an example of music from this genre: Waiting on the World to Change by John Mayer


Cultural Music

Spicy colors and bold prints straight out of Africa have been showing up on the Runways recently. Afrocentric style has been taken to a new level by designers like Marc Jacobs and Dries Van Noten. These styles have been inspired by the garb that many African and Latin singers wear. Portuguese singer Elis Regina could be seen any day in ethnic prints resembling African kente cloth. In addition to African inspired cloth many designers have been featuring geometric and sculptured African shapes. John Galliano, designer for Dior, designed shoes with African sculptures as the heels. The dusty colors reminiscent of African deserts have also been making appearances in the fashion world.
Fig 6. Singer Elis Regina wearing an African inspired print

Fig 7. This Ralph Lauren Collection look represents attire worn by someone who would be in a hot climate like the African desert. This is evident by the water pouch and the light and breezy harem pants
Fig 8. Lanvin Collection

Fig 9. These are Louis Vuitton shoes. The bold colors represent the colors used in African kente cloth, the animal skin represents the many animals seen in Africa, and the straps have African masks on them
Fig 10. This Dries Van Noten Spring 2010 look is inspired by African cloth and African colors.

Fig 11. This is a South African choir all wearing traditional African colors. These colors can be linked to the ones designers like Galliano used in their African inspired collections

Fig 12. This is African Kente Cloth the Source of Inspiration for Many Designers. It is also traditional garb African garb.

Fig 13. John Galliano shoes with sculptured African heals.

Fig 14. Women of Latin America Album; Album art represents women wearing African inspired cloth

Preciosa by Marc Anthony

Preciosa is a song sang by Marc Anthony. This song is off his 1999 self titled album. Preciosa shows examples of call and response at the beginning of the song. In the first verse right after a line is sang there are a few notes played by the acoustic guitar.

Here is an example of music from this genre: Preciosa by Marc Anthony


Hip Hop

Hip Hop fashion has a distinctive look that originated among African- American teens in cities like New York and Chicago in the 1980's. Hip hop fashion express the hip hop culture as a whole. African pride increased in the 90's and it was reflected by the clothing that African American youth wore. Dread locks, harem pants, and African chains became increasingly popular. Red, black and green the colors of the African flag were showing up on everything from hats to jackets. The leaders of this African Pride Movement were the African American rappers like Snoop Dog and Queen Latifah. Snoop Dog once wore a Tommy Hilfiger outfit on Saturday Night Live and it sold out in New York Stores by the next day. Rappers and artists had tremendous influence over the youth of that time so what they wore would be copied and reinterpreted by African American youth and even designers. Designing house Chanel, whose creative director is now Karl Lagerfeld, featured a hip hop inspired runway in 1991. Chanel portrayed "ghetto fabulous" attire, a saying coined by P. Diddy, with lots of chains, big belts, and tilted fedoras. Now a days as hip hop artists are gaining more control over African American youth they are designing their own fashion labels. P Diddy created the line Sean John, Pharrel created the Brand Billionares Boy Club, Jay - Z created Rockawear the list goes on.

Fig 15. This is a photo of Snoop Dog, a popular hip-hop artist of the 90's. He is wearing long chunky chain much like the ones in the photo of Chanels 1991 fashion show.

Fig 16. This is a photo of Chanel's 1991 fashion show. Much like Snoop Dog this model is wearing hip-hop inspired clothing evident by the long and big chains. Another comparison is that they both have a laid back stance about them

I Love College by Asher Roth

This song by Asher Roth has many examples of call and response. During the middle of the song he says "Man I love college" and is responded with "Ayye," this was repeated twice during the song. Another example of call and response was when Roth said "Put your drink up as high as you can and repeat after me" he then began saying different phrases and then the background singers repeated him.

Here is a song from this genre: I Love College by Asher Roth T

African American Influences on fashion:

African Americans have and will continue to have an influence on the fashion world. Not only through music is this influence shown but also many African American designers and models are changing the fashion industry. Here are some examples below:

Kevan Hall:

Kevan Hall is an African American fashion designer. He was firs recognized as an influence on the fashion world when he was the creative director for House of Halston from 1998 to 2000. After his short but memorable time at Halston he went on to create his own clothing line. His spring 2008 fashion line was inspired by his roots in Africa. The show began with performances by African dancers and stilt walkers. The clothes itself had traditional African bead work and the earthy colors and rich fabrics also had their roots in Africa.

Fig 17. Kevan Hall doing his finale walk with a model

Fig 18. A model from Kevan Halls Fashion show wearing a traditional African beadwork necklace
Fig 19. African dancers performing at Kevan Halls fashion show
Fig 20. Kevan Halls mudcloth inspired dress
Fig 21. Kevan Halls Masai-inspired gown

Rachel Roy:

Rachel Roy is multi faceted African American designer. She has a high end fashion line and a lower end line called Rachel Rachel Roy which is sold at department stores like Macy's. Her Fall 2010 fashion line was inspired by aliens and sand dunes. The colors used are saturated blossom, moody elixir, onyx and deep river hues. Her Rachel Rachel Roy line was inspired by Harbor Island.

Fig 22. Rachel Roy

Fig 24. A look from Rachel Roy's fall 2010 line
Fig 25. A look from Rachel Roy's fall 2010 line

Fig 26. A look from Rachel Rachel Roy
Fig 27. A look from Rachel Rachel Roy


Census Data:


In 1999 in New York City, the fashion capital of the United States, the average African American household made an average of $31,058 compared to $46,534 that the average White household made. So with an average price of $1,500 to $4,000 designer clothes were more accessible to White people than to African Americans.


In the year 2000, 202,530 African Americans in New York received a bachelors degree or higher compared to 950,483 White people who received a bachelor degree or higher. Since getting a fashion degree falls under bachelor degree or higher it explains why there are more White people in the fashion industry as designers than there are African Americans.


In 2000 the average African American household size in New York City was 3 people compared to the 2 in the average White household. This difference in household averages could also be reason for more White people in the fashion industry than black people. This is because white people had less household members to take care of so they could spend their extra money on things like clothes and higher educations.

Census Conclusion-

The average income, average household number, and more people getting bachelor degrees is all reason for why there are less African Americans in the fashion world than are white.


I hope you enjoyed reading my wiki page. From now on when your walking down the street take a second to observe the clothes that people are wearing and you will be able to make a connection with their clothes and a specific music genre.



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