Does Fashion Determine an Artist’s Image?


Over the years, music and fashion have undeniably evolved dramatically. Some say that there is a correlation between the two; I am one of those people. In recent years, musical artists have made use of fashion to simultaneously create a sense of credibility and bolster their image. 


Hip-hop artists such as the influential trio, Run DMC, used fashion as a way to build their persona and connect with their audience – unconsciously bridging the gap between music and fashion. By popularizing the Adidas tracksuit and Adidas Superstar sneaker, these artists paved the way for Adidas supremacy. However, times have changed since the trio’s influence in 1986. Although fashion and the genre of hip-hop have moved in different directions, the appearance of an artist still plays an instrumental role in their success. 

Cardi B


As music and fashion continue to evolve, so does technology’s impact on the surrounding world. Artists are now being discovered through social media, after posting videos ofthemselves rapping or singing on different platforms. Additionally, the emergence of platforms like Instagram have allowed celebrities to embody certain narratives, showcasing their style in a new fashion. For instance, Lakeyah is a female rapper from Milwaukee who signed to a powerhouse label, Quality Control Music, home to influential artists such as Migos, Lil Baby, and the City Girls. As she breaks into the music industry, her Instagram feed is becoming a mixture of promotion for her music and the outfits she wears at events/concerts she is performing at. This is true for big name artists as well. Cardi B recently disclosed that she maintains her image in order to remain marketable when the time comes to release new music, an effort many other rappers agreed to taking on as well.


This newly-established fashion standard in music has played into whether or not an artist will be successful. Some may say that this is because women need to appeal to both men and other women. To achieve this task, her appearance should capture the attention of a man while her lyrics capture the attention of a woman. This can be seen in the ‘90s during the height of Lil’ Kim’s career, as well. The vulgarity of Lil’ Kim’s lyrics had to balance out with the liberating outfits that she wore. Her ground-breaking fashion choices and lyrics caused her to become a pivotal figure in the third-wave feminism movement.


Lil Baby

When Hip-Hop started to transition from “Happy Rap” to storytelling, artists like Run DMC and LL Cool J wanted to use their fashion as a way to connect with the audience and represent the unseen. They both popularized the outfits worn by inner-city youth and initiated trends that have lasted until today, such as the gaudy jewelry of rappers like Lil Baby. Some may say that it’s a fashion statement, while others see it as a symbol of status. Whatever the case, their fashion has become inseparable from their music, and both together make up who they are as an artist.


Today, many up and coming artists are basing their styles on current trends and status symbols, as well as connecting their fashion to the music they sing. Many are creating and maintaining these personas with the use of social media, which has marked a significant change from both areas in the past.  Ultimately, fashion’s influence on the perception of artists has evolved from a form of expression to a standard that all upcoming artists must meet.