50 Years Fly

NBC Documentary '50 Years Fly' Looks Back at 50 Years of Hip-Hop Fashion

NBC Documentary '50 Years Fly' Looks Back at 50 Years of Hip-Hop Fashion

Published Thu, June 15, 2023 at 3:00 PM EDT

A new NBC documentary, 50 Years Fly: The Rise, Fall and Revolution of Hip-Hop Fashion, chronicles Hip-Hop fashion, its evolution, and the entrepreneurs who delivered it to the public over the last five decades.

Harlem designer Dapper Dan, April Walker (founder of Walker Wear), Karl Kani, Kimora Lee Simmons (Baby Phat) and Daymond John (FUBU) are featured in the film which focuses heavily of Hip-Hop's individualism and the need for fashion that speaks to it.

"Fashion is such that you have to pay attention to the current," Dapper Dan explained. "You can't control it, but see which way the current is going and dive in."

April Walker described her early associations with Hip-Hop and fashion. "I was already in the parks listening to the DJ's, but what I didn't have was a place to go buy the uniform," she explained. "We would go to the store and buy things, then manipulate, edit, tear it up and make it our own."

Designer Karl Kani spoke of the need for clothing that was tailored to his personality, and how that need influenced him to start his clothing company.

"I wanted jeans that were baggier than what we we wearing, so I went to a tailor who said that he could do that," he remembered. "He loosened the legs and made the outfit exactly how I wanted it. When I wore it around the neighborhood everybody wanted to know where I got it, so I started selling clothing to my friends."

Damon John of FUBU explained the financial hurdles associated with starting FUBU. "I got turned down by 27 banks," he said. "My mother said that she didn't know that 27 banks existed. She went out and got a $100,000 load on my house, she moved out, my friends moved in and I turned my house into a factory. I realized that $100 was now $500 because I was paying for raw goods 90 days ahead of time and sewing machines, salaries and shipping. I was about to be homeless."

Check out the documentary above.

Anytime you have any form of true self expression in art, once corporate America finds a way to seize it and make money off of it, they do.

- April Walker, Founder Walker Wear

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