Swaggerific: Modest Fashion observations from Bob Swaget
-- by Philip dos Santos (aka Big Philly of Sole Purpose), March 2007  


For many, staying ahead of fashion or at least on par with it, is a job in itself. With shoes becoming more limited and hard to come by, fitted caps retailing for $100+ and jeans starting at $400, being a stylish student almost seems to be an oxymoron. But why? Why do we feel compelled to wear the latest Nike sneakers or the most extravagant pair of jeans available? Fashion today is more than just the 5th element of hip-hop, it is an official sport. It may not be televised weekly or even reported on during the nightly news, but on street corners, runways and boutique stores alike, the competition and battle continues each and every day.

It is expected that individuals are influenced by their role models and idols, which is exactly why the climate for fashion is much more intense that is has ever been. With clothing companies being created faster than babies, it is to no surprise that ideas are being recycled, colour schemes are being duplicated and images are being overdone. The end result: Saturation. People end up dressing the same, using the same slang and liking the same things.

In an attempt to shake things up, change some opinions and hopefully ruffle some feathers, I have compiled a short list of relevant fashion trends and company's from the past seven years.

Mitchell & Ness: Originally gained minor popularity in the late 90's when hip-hop group's "The High & Mighty" (EC Records) and Outkast (Mainly Big Boi) wore them. But really, they reached their peak in popularity around 2001-2002 when every high profile rapper from Jay-Z to Fabolous sported them. M&N makes authentic retro jerseys for the NFL, NBA, MLB & NCAA; they start at around $200 USD. The popularity of jerseys has since dwindled, but I can assure you that the true sports/jersey fans are still wearing them to this day!

Nike: With the Air Force 1 shoe reaching (what seems to be) the height of its mainstream popularity, rapper Nelly released "Air Force Ones" in 2002, a song dedicated to a sneaker that has been a classic amongst sneaker fans since the late 80's. In conjunction with the Jordan retro craze beginning, it seems as if the "old" became "new". Add one of the most copied and successful technologies to date, Nike "Shox" were introduced in 2001 and still remain a top tier running/training shoe to date. Free advertising from a high profile rapper, the hottest shoes from the best basketball player ever & the latest in technology = Nike is still #1.

Mohawks/Fauxhawks: I never thought of shaving the sides of my head while leaving the top really long, but then again what do I know? This trend was heavily influenced by punk rock and skate cultures, but it was weird when you noticed that the punk rockers and skaters were not doing the mohawks anymore. In fact, it was the posh, trendy suburbanites that popularized (and ruined) the hairstyle. Worst fauxhawks: Diddy & David Beckham.

Chain wallets/Chain gang: Most people do not understand the significance of Jim Jones' dangling chain wallet, nor do they care, and I do not know what aggravates me more. Either way, this is again influenced by punk rock and fashion from decades ago. This did see a slight resurrection in the early-mid 90's, but lost popularity until the mid 00's. Advice: Try to keep the chains above the kneecaps fellas!

"You think this chain gang is about swag, but it's about..." - Jim Jones

You didn't really think I was going to reveal it did you? Stop following trends.

At the end of the day, there are so many options out there and so much can be said about a person through their style of dress. Clothes are getting more expensive, harder to get and less original, so what are you supposed to do, right? It's hard to predict what's going to be cool and if you can, its expensive to keep up. That might be the root of the problem though, kids trying to wear whats "cool", regardless of their personal opinion.

For heaven's sake, grow up, make some decisions on your own and stop looking to MTV/BET/Much Music/Hypebeast.com for your next outfit! But, then again, some things never change.

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