As we discussed in an earlier blog post, 80’s cinema did a lot to influence streetwear, but American films of the 1990s were equally impactful and arguably more culturally significant in determining the direction of urban wear trends for the decade.
Do the Right Thing
Set in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy), Spike Lee’s pivotal film on race relations in New York City provided a realistic representation of rising racial tensions. Part of that realism is rendered through the costuming of the characters in the film.
Ruth E. Carter, the film’s costume designer, was told by Lee that the costuming should be bright… and she delivered. The film featured primary colored clothing, a lot of gold and a whole lot of Nike. The iconic Radio Raheem (who is the symbolic embodiment of Black pride) sports a white T-shirt with a colorful boxed-off design bearing the phrase “Bed-Stuy or Die” emblazoned on the front. (On a side note, the t-shirt was actually designed and painted by a local Brooklyn woman.) Raheem also sports two gigantic, iconic, knuckleduster rings, “Love” and “Hate”. Learn more about the representation of black culture and the costuming of the film.
Boyz n the Hood
Director John Singleton’s “Boyz n the Hood” also addressed the issues facing black youth in a rough neighborhood, this time in the South Central Los Angeles. The style, although equally memorable, is a little different. The characters don plenty of funky, saturated colors, but what we remember best are the denim-wash jeans, chambray shirts, and a whole lot of snapbacks. In one scene, Cuba Gooding Jr. sports a basketball jersey over a white t-shirt — a classic look of the time.
White Men Can’t Jump
“White Men Can’t Jump” featured a plethora of colorful fashion… it does take place in Venice Beach, CA, one of America’s most colorful towns. Muscle tees and high top sneakers, the film gives us an accurate portrayal of the street ball culture that dominated the West Coast in the 1990s. Wesley Snipes’s character, Sidney Dean, has a signature court style that consists of two muscle tees, bicycle shorts, a cycling cap and a gold chain. Woody Harrelson’s Buddy Hoyle establishes his own identifying style in his first game: tie-dye cap, a “Parental Advisory” tee with a colorful open button down worn over it. He basically looks like a chump… and that’s exactly what he wants you to think.