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chasing waterfalls

the '90s were crazy, sexy, and cool.

by: ray siegel

June 26 2013

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Working in downtown New York, we see trends happen rapidly, right before our eyes. It seems like lately everyone is in their '90s hip-hop star best: black jeans, a graphic tank, a leather jacket, and a backwards baseball cap. Though so painstakingly trendy and usually completely ripped off, we can't say that we don't love this look.

But it got us thinking, when did everyone start to dress like Rihanna (ahem, Miley Cyrus)? Don't get us wrong, we're guilty of owning the Rihanna x River Island double denim, drop crotch pants complete with a matching overall crop top.

As Eve (the rapper simply known as Eve) told us during an interview for this month's music issue, "All of that '90s shit everyone's wearing now ain't original!" She's right. In other words, early hip hop artists TLC, Aaliyah, and Salt-n-Pepa carried out their own own feminized iterations of street wear's biggest trends long before 2013's mob of Rihanna look-alikes came along. The look that Eve nostalgically referred to very obviously must include, but not be limited to: a visible sports bra of sorts, overalls that aren't fully fastened, a flannel around your waist, and if you're Lisa Left Eye Lopes, a condom that doubles as an accessory and a public service announcement. Contraceptive fashion not withstanding, most trends are cyclical.

Underwear as outerwear never really left as a result of Vivienne Westwood and Dolce & Gabbana's undying devotion to the corset top. And we have hipsters who favor the lumberjack look to thank for the ever-present flannel shirt. But backwards caps, general sportiness, and a vibe that's unmistakably hip hop has spurred a trend that has made its way to mainstream fashion and high-end fashion. DKNY teamed up with Opening Ceremony to reissue their iconic logo pieces (and more) from '91, '92, and '94 in March. The London-based brand River Island turned to RiRi (along with her stylist, Mel Ottenberg and design partner Adam Selman, both highly culpable for resurrecting the trend) to launch a second capsule collection for summer.

And it wasn't hard for Forever 21 to conjure up graphic tees with dollar signs on them. Even some of the most fashionable friend are stocking up on Adidas track suits; perhaps an unintentional nod to one of the first sportswear brands in the late 1970s to recognize the merit in attaching itself to the hip hop community. That strategy is in full-force today--Rihanna isn't only about the graphic tees and denim thongs. Both on and off stage, Riccardo Tisci keeps the singer decked in his own glamorized versions of streetwear: bombers, sweatshirts, and of course the occasional erotic, leather cape.

So flip your hat backwards--or if you're really feeling the '90s--to the side, and wear your DKNY skyscraper logo tee like it's 1992 again. You'll probably look so on trend, but don't for one second think that you're original. All that being said, we'd like to give TLC some 20th anniversary love. Though the celebratory rerelease of their hit song "Waterfalls" has been yanked due to copyright issues (the original was probably better anyways), the group is set to perform at Pennsylvania's Mixtape Festival on July 27th (their first show since 2009), and their first new album in ten years is in the works.

To once again reiterate the theme of this trend story: the original is almost always better.

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