Fresh, Fly, and Fabulous: Fifty Years of Hip Hop Style

Special Exhibitions Gallery

February – April 2023
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The year 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the birth of hip hop, and to commemorate the occasion, The Museum at FIT (MFIT) will present Fresh, Fly, and Fabulous: Fifty Years of Hip Hop Style (February – April 2023), an exhibition that examines the roots and history of hip hop fashion from inception to the present time. This exhibition will explore several themes, such as the transition of hip hop from the ’hood to the runway; luxury and designer influence; the impact of hip hop celebrities on the fashion industry; and the growth of hip hop style as an international phenomenon.

bomber jacket in white, green and red with eight-ball design on back and sleeve
Michael Hoban "8-Ball jacket" Fall 1989, USA, 91.192.1, gift of Michael Hoban, North Beach Leather.
Nike Air Jordon high top sneakers in red an white
Nike “Air Jordan” high top sneakers 1985, USA, The Museum at FIT, 85.196.1, gift of Nike, Inc.

“For 50 years, hip hop has made its mark on U.S. culture and the world,” says Elena Romero, exhibition co-curator and assistant professor, Advertising and Marketing Communications at FIT. “It is the perfect time to exhibit, examine, and celebrate the contributions of our youth and people of color who ignited a multibillion-dollar industry, once considered a passing fad.” Romero has extensively chronicled hip hop fashion as a journalist, author, and scholar. She is the author of Free Stylin’: How Hip Hop Changed the Fashion Industry and has been featured in several documentaries on the subject, including Fresh Dressed and The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion.

“The Museum at FIT has established the Hip Hop Style Archive in preparation for our big 2023 exhibition,” says Dr. Valerie Steele, director of MFIT. “We have already acquired some important pieces — ranging from Dapper Dan to Chanel — but we are dedicated to finding much more material that will elucidate a very important cultural phenomenon.” The archive, founded in 2019 in recognition of the importance of hip hop style in the 20th and 21st centuries, is a continually growing collection within The Museum at FIT’s permanent holdings and is comprised predominantly of male and female garments, footwear, and related accessories. It includes works from a range of designers, including American sportswear and luxury designers, European luxury brands, and most significantly, works by designers of color, particularly African American and Latinx designers who helped initiate hip hop style’s international success.

Brown bomber-style jacket with printed LV logos
Dapper Dan of Harlem Bomber-style printed jacket 1987, USA, 2013.87.1, gift of Dapper Dan of Harlem.
Pink parachute jacket ensemble
Puma by Rihanna Parachute jacket ensemble Spring 2017, Germany, 2017.29.1 gift of Puma.

MFIT is currently seeking and accepting donations of objects to continue to build the Hip Hop Style Archive and to accurately represent hip hop fashion in the upcoming Fresh, Fly and Fabulous exhibition. If you wish to donate an object, please visit our individual donations page.

Fresh, Fly, and Fabulous: Fifty Years of Hip Hop Style will be supported by an advisory committee made up of experts from the fields of fashion, music, journalism, academia, and education. The exhibition will be organized and co-curated by Romero and Elizabeth Way, assistant curator of costume at The Museum of FIT.