Constellation SLTS 3/8 Hip Hop Styles

Best Practice in academic writing

As our constellation work would involve essay writing, we were asked to paraphrase academic quotations, the need for paraphrasing is simply conveying the message of what can be a long winded and overly complex statement in as simple terms as possible. Until now i hadn’t realised that paraphrasing required citation.

Direct Quotation requires: Quotation marks, author, year of publication and page number.

Paraphrasing requires: Author, year of publication.

Additional: All sources and materials used must be collated into a bibliography.

Key Terms in the study of subculture

Construction: Putting a style together through a selective process. Picking and choosing from all manner of cultural and social influences to build a look.

Our job is to analyse this process piece by piece and understand the significance of and motivation behind the choice of each accoutrement.

Resignification: A term coined to describe the inflection of given meanings and alter them for them. Can be achieved by Modification, Intensifying, Exaggerating or Isolating the item.

1980’s Hip Hop Style

Image result for 1980s hip hop style

We were provided academic quotes from Whitely, Z and Kellner, D regarding their work on the Hip Hop culture and trends of the 1980s and asked to paraphrase and condense the information.

During the Capitalist boom of the 1980’s the focus of many became conspicuous consumption. People felt the need to demonstrate their wealth by the way they dressed. The ideal way to achieve this was to wear as much expensive jewelry and accoutrements as possible. This quickly became competitive. Who was the biggest and the baddest? Who could spray their graffiti tag in the busiest area? Who was the most popular music artist? Who wore the most gold and jewelry?

Brands and their associations were co-opted into the Hip Hop style. The intent was to emulate the perceived associations a brand carried. Juxtaposition of items demonstrated the fashion taking precedence over functionality. Heavy gold chains paired with Adidas sports wear. Trilby hats that demonstrated wealth and social position in past eras of fashion were incorporated.

Image result for beastie boys hood ornament

At one time the need for brand association in the style lead to people wearing car hood ornaments of expensive manufacturers such as mercedes and VW. As seen in this image of the Beastie Boys.

Context is everything to fashion. Every item, the way it is worn, what it is worn with, when it is worn. Many African Americans in the hiphop movement of the 80s teamed what by then was the established Hip Hop look with African garb to show solidarity and pride in their heritage and support for those in South Africa fighting Apartheid.

Style is a fluid and ever changing phenomenon. Anything can be a catalyst for change and bring about the emergence of a new look. In the 2000s lower income people, seeing that Burberry was highly regarding by wealthy celebrities, began buying into the brand. A brands identity is vital to its success. An expensive brand works through exclusivity. A consumer pays extra to wear something few can. Burberry suffered under this new trend as middle and working classes started buying their clothes and copycat companies began making knock-off versions. Brands influence consumers, but consumers influence brands in return.

Who wore it better?

Emma Watson endorsing Burberry
Burberry ‘Chav’


An example of the negative associations ‘chavs’ created for Burberry’s brand name.


This work has helped me to sculpt my process as a designer. Graphic Design is something I’ve always considered to be largely subjective. Different styles and different approaches appeal to different people. One person might like a brand or a logo and another may find it entirely unappealing. But the analytical nature of the Smells Like Teen Spirit course has helped me to understand a scientific method for understanding why things in fashion and equally in design are the way they are.




Author: David Rothwell

I am a Graphic Communication student at Cardiff Metropolitan School of Art and Design If you like any of my work, have feedback (good or bad) or would like to get in touch, please do

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