Fashion in pop culture keeps evolving — before social media came around, we really didn’t know what was hot for guys until we saw it on someone on TV. Us guys had no idea really what was a Gucci label versus just a regular shirt that was found in a mall.
Remember Jay-Z The Black Album, it was the album that told every guy that he needed to start wearing button-ups and jeans. I remember Express Men made a killing off of Black guys for like five years because of this. It wasn’t Dior, Tom Ford, or a Givenchy men market back then, especially for young Black guys. We, including the wealthy rappers, were wearing Express 49.00 buttons because it was a cool affordable style.
If we look back over the last 20 years, we will see how men personal style has continue to evolve because of the style influencers who have kept us on our A-game. They draw the boundaries between expensive labels and personal style. There are many inspirations we can pull from, but I want to quickly take you down a time line of some of the guys have influenced style up until today.
These celebrities’ personalities fused with their willingness to create fashion trends have sculpted many fashion styles for men today. These iconic trendsetters have made their marks on pop culture and continue to be responsible for creating innovative new style trends for men.
Sean “Diddy” Combs is considered one of the GodFathers of swag. It flows within his DNA as you tell with his son Christian. Diddy made dressing up cool for a guy. I am not talking about just a simple suit with a plaid tie. I am talking about shiny suits, extravagant tuxes, one of kind crocodile dress shoes paired with a humongous fur coat. Diddy personifies the term opulence and set the bar when it came to hip-hop and fashion. Yes, the labels exists in his wardrobe—but Diddy created a” Bad Boy” standard dress code — if you going to stunt with fashion — DO IT WELL. Nowadays when we see layering of chains, a tailored three-piece suit, a classic top coat, fedora, and colossal shades we automatically think “Diddy.”
Idris Elba the Black James Bond of our time. Yes there are many guys in Hollywood who can rock a suit, selected by a stylist and tailored to perfection for the moment needed, but Idris made tailored suiting for Black men a norm. It’s not just for the red carpet or a wedding. It’s for the event period. Idris is one of the style pioneers for dapper men. Whether it’s a casual day or A-list event, he taught us the importance of looking crisp and sharp. Idris once said when asked about formal wear, “My bow [tie] makes my dick hard every time I smile...is that normal?" This man is in love or lust fashion. On his days off, we learned that driving hats, popping colored pants, and moccasins indeed work too. IF “masculinity” had a formal dress code, one of Idris suits would be there as an example.
Andre 3000 has constantly evolved since 1994 when Outkast dropped Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik — but he remains consistent with never wanting to live inside a fashion box. From outrageous boots and matching gloves to some wild futuristic looks with platinum wigs, Andre has never been afraid to explore personal style. Andre is the definition of cool.
Similar to Andre 3000, Will I Am, whose style represented an era when male artists were able to be bolder with their fashion sense to define who they were. “Personality and situational” dressing as a stylist would say.
Kanye West, I can go on and on and ON about Kanye West style influence, but there’s no need. Just google “Kan-“ and before you finish typing his name, a million pictures and articles dating back to 2003 or further will display praising his style. Kanye West created a “signature style” for men. When he branded himself the “College Dropout,” we saw a lot of looks from him that reminded you of that rich college student everyone wanted to be. You know that one with great parents who both had good jobs. Somehow this guy was your roommate because he wanted to live on campus for the experience. As his life evolves, Kanye styles changes. He made “Rock Star Stylish Rebel” a look for Black guys to wear to a wedding. Every stylish male and even guys with no style cleaned out their closets and replaced everything with all black because of this dude! Today he is very much responsible for the mixing up sportswear and high end-end labels. Kanye has influenced males to learn about designer sales to find that Haider Ackermann piece to pair with our track pants. Asking our friends, “Chelsea stacked heel boot or Adidas?”
Pharrell continues to set style trends for the guy next door who is into fashion, but with the modest look. Before it became a thing to mix high and low as a trend and before “affordability" wasn’t looked as being cheap, Skateboard P was doing it. He teaches guys, “it’s not about what you wearing — it’s all about how you wear it.” And he means it. He is not just referring to the difference between a Gucci bomber and Zara coat, he means: if you want to wear Chanel pearls and they look good on you — WHY NOT! Get the purse too!
LeBron James, whom GQ refers to as the ”reigning king of style.” The fashion and basketball worlds have seen a ton of crossover because of guys like LeBron. LeBron off the court is known for his “sophisticated style.” This new NBA dress code LeBron is leading ranges from tailored blazers and denim to colorful tuxes on the red carpet. The 7-foot NBA giant help create that bridge with fashion and sports.
We have seen male fashion influencers develop, repeat, exaggerate and change the fashion game for men. It begs the question of, “who is next?”
(Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
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