Firstly, I would like to thank The Silentist for taking the time to answer two questions on menswear blogging and its relationship to hip hop. The Silentist is a veteran blogger from Chicago who offers inspiration, advice, and tips on menswear. Go check out his tumblr at thesilentist.tumblr.com.
1.) How has hip hop influenced your sense of style?
I can’t say that what some people might consider hip-hop style or fashion has directly influenced my style in terms of clothing I choose to wear. Throughout hip-hop’s various fashion trends, I’ve usually never worn similar clothing.
In high school and college, I dressed more along the lines of computer geek meets punk meets slacker.
Right now, I dress perhaps more along the lines of conservative, ivy-inspired looks.
What I will say that I’ve come to relate to more now in hip-hop is the idea of having self confidence and not being afraid to flaunt that attitude. This largely drove my style forward: thinking I was invincible if I looked great.
That kind of self-confidence is something I definitely took from hip-hop as I began to listen to it over the past few years. I’d say a huge turning point for me was Kanye West’s “Graduation” album, especially the “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” track. The idea that you haven’t made it yet, but that you’re determined to get somewhere where better resonated with me at my first job out of college that I wasn’t crazy about. The idea of having the mentality of success before you’ve even got it carries over well, I think, into style.
2.) Why do you think hip hop is very much prevalent in men’s fashion blogs?
I have no idea, but I think, again, it’s kind of this idea that both hip-hop’s message in a lot of songs and a lot of #menswear bloggers both have a common theme of aspiration.
In hip-hop, it’s a common theme to upgrade your life from humble beginnings to living large through your sheer hard work, determination and skill. It’s very American and embodies the Puritan work ethic in a lot of ways.
In #menswear blogging, you have to kind of assume that a lot of these guys are younger and at the beginning of their professional careers. Rarely are any of them “ballin’ outta control” and “riding miracle whips”. Still, they have an idea of where they want to be in terms of their life and part of their interest in style — naturally, part of their idea of success is to eventually, over time, find themselves in a position to own nicer things. They might not be there all of the way yet, but they have an idea of where they want to be.
It’s not uncommon for a rapper to begin their career talking about how hard life is, where they’re struggling to get by and their frustrations with trying to break through — for example, Kanye West’s “Spaceship”. But as they move forward, their lyrics morph from looking up to looking down — Kanye now sits at The Throne, rhyming with a different perspective than his earlier self.
I think men’s style bloggers are along the same lines. You covet an ideal initially, but perhaps over time you begin to live that thing you dreamed about as you follow that ideal. It’s a personal transformation, yet you still remain true to expressing yourself in the process.