Between June 15th, 2019 and September 15th, 2019, Kunsthal Rotterdam, in collaboration with the HipHopHuis and guest curator Lee Stuart, presents an exhibition about Hip Hop and its influence on fashion and lifestyle. “Streetwear” dictates the pace and aesthetics of the fashion industry and changes the way this industry develops. Hip Hop is the leading youth culture that dominates the charts and the global street scene: from a source of inspiration for high fashion brands to making sportswear popular as a daily outfit.

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The Bronx is the birthplace of hip hop culture. This district of New York was literally and figuratively on fire in the 1970s. Violence, poverty and discrimination are the order of the day. Here a ‘do it yourself’ culture is created in which originality and credibility are central. Creativity is the essence of hip hop, and fashion is the connecting element. Even if you were born for a dime, you can still look like ‘a million bucks’. The exhibition “Street Dreams: How Hip Hop took over Fashion” shows – with visual art, photography and video installations – the looks, codes and creative power of Hip Hop with the focus on the origin and underlying philosophy of this street culture.

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HIP HOP, once started in New York (The Bronx), is now a worldwide phenomenon and a billion dollar industry. Young people stand in line for hours, just to get their hands on an exceptional product or a unique collaboration between two or more (streetwear) brands, such as Off-White x Air Jordan, Nike x Patta, the Nike SB x Staple brand release even caused a riot in NYC back in 2005. Even streetwear and sneaker conventions are drawing massive crowds, such as Complexcon, Sneakerness and the Agenda trade show. Nowadays you can wear sneakers to the office, wear sportswear outside the gym; it has become very common. New Hip Hop talent is rising and taking over from their predecessors. “The Street” reflects the current street scene and offers the opportunity to think about “the next step”.

2. Jamel Shabazz A Mother’s Love, Brooklyn, NYC 1987, foto Jamel Shabazz.jpg
Jamal Shabazz, A Mother’s Love, Brooklyn, NYC, 1987, foto (c) Jamel Shabazz

“The Gallery” reflects the Hip Hop dream with top pieces by contemporary artists: being very successful, proud and the “attitude”. There is work by artists including Nick Cave, Thomas J. Price and Kehinde Wiley. The latter is known for his colorful and ornamented variations on classical paintings in which he focuses on the black man. Images from photographers such as Jamal Shabazz, Janette Beckman and Dana Lixenberg show the early years of Hip Hop fashion. The special video artwork “Winter in America” ​​from 2006 by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Kambui Olujimi can also be seen. Furthermore the iconic photo of Djamilla Rosa Cochran by rapper Cam’Ron in his pink mink coat with which he appears at Fashion Week in New York in 2002.

At the Kunsthal Rotterdam, pioneers and key figures from the Hip Hop fashion industry speak to the public in a larger-than-life immersive spatial installation, specially developed for the exhibition. Heroes like April Walker, David Fischer and Angelo Baque share their personal story about their role in Hip Hop history and their influence on the current fashion industry. At the start of their career, they had to deal with obstacles, but now the doors of renowned fashion houses are wide open. The Netherlands also has large game changers, such as Edson Sabajo, co-founder of the clothing brand Patta, who also shares his story in “The Masters”.

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