The Power of Collaboration: Hip Hop X Fashion

Last night, I watched "The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion" a documentary on Netflix that profiles the global impact of Black visionaries and pioneers in hip hop fashion: Misa Hylton, April Walker, Kerby Jean-Raymond and Dapper Dan. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I stopped paying attention to hip hop just around the time I left Howard University undergrad and entered the law school.

Though I attended numerous parties where hip hop was the main event, I never dressed like the women of hip hop dressed. From my earliest days, my mom persuaded me that I could either wear an outfit that was tight, or short, but not both. Cloaked in my trademark "skinny black pants and a cute top" party uniform, I was dressed like I planned to be more of an observer at the end of the bar rather than the focal point of attention. In my 20s, I was hyper focused on my legal career and thoughtful wardrobe of navy blue suits. My personality didn't fit the colorful, bold and sometimes boisterous hip hop fashions. Regretfully, I didn't spend much time listening to hip hop or experimenting with styles. Clearly having missed out on a revolution, I was quite eager to watch this documentary.

Just down the street from New York's 5th Avenue fashion-houses, these indie, hip hop fashion creators in the film envisioned a new combination of color, texture and pattern. From hair to toe, they created eye-popping looks for performing artists and invented a style that hundreds of thousands of people continue to emulate to this day. When you watch the film, you'll hear how Dapper Dan and Gucci scandalously copied each other's work. The lawyer side of me naturally cringes at the idea of clients appropriating an established trademark or design without the proper license. But spoiler alert: all turned out quite well. You'll have to watch the film for the fantastic back story. It's a lesson in competition and collaboration.

The most important take away is that small, individual creators and innovators of hip hop fashion revolutionized the way people dress around the world and upended the entire fashion industry. It's quite possible that the worldwide phenomenon of hip hop music would not have happened without the collaboration of the musicians and visual fashion artists and stylists. Hip hop is a visual art almost as much as a musical one. This level of joint ambition, imagination, creativity and ingenuity created an entirely new, multi-billion dollar industry.

The world continues to beg for the kind of collaboration, creativity and boldness that expands the universe of opportunities available for all. Sometimes competition is good, but other times it's more productive to work together than compete - to share ideas, resources and networks. To open doors and provide opportunity to others - even when they don't look like you or come from a similar place. No one accomplishes revolutionary things all alone. Collaboration is key. Collaboration inspires.

You can watch the documentary on Netflix. Please come back to post a comment on how the documentary impacted your view of what's possible in your life, or in fashion or hip hop.


1 view

Recent Posts

See All



  • Facebook
  • Instagram



  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Spotify
  • YouTube
  • iTunes
  • Facebook

Don't miss a post! Subscribe here.

© 2021 by Shai Littlejohn