The baggier the better, that’s the motto. Or at least according to hip hop’s fashion where
the baggy jeans, or ultra wide jeans, know no limits when it comes to sizing. Popularized in the 90s, wide denim came at a time where a huge cultural shift was settling in. Moving away from the rockstar born in the 50s to the hip hop artist such as Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G., fashion was bound to follow. Hip hop and the baggy jeans became one, with artists from Wu-Tang Clan, Aaliyah, TLC, Eazy E and countless more were all rocking the baggy fit. Worn as a sign of rebellion, hip hop put its middle finger to the sky and wore the unconventionally sized fit just because.
Making its grand entrance through breakdancing, notably M.C. Hammer’s 1992 U Can’t Touch This music video, ‘baggies’ became a fashion staple born out of practicality. While Hammer’s pants, funnily enough adopting the nickname ‘Hammer pants’, were cuffed at the ankles. This was a feature that would eventually loosen up, creating a straighter silhouette throughout the decade, such as in Kriss Kross’ Jump. But as wide denim became more and more popular, so did breakdancing, creating a cycle of mutual popularity.
The 90s saw a huge sportswear influence on fashion, trading the questionable 80s leg warmers and flashy leotards for the loose-fitting and free-flowing pieces we now remember. Breakdancing was not the only sport that took the spotlight in the pre-millenia decade, as skateboarding found its grips. Skaters all over adopted the baggy look, further pushing their rebellious identity. In fact, the loose-fitted denim embodies this very idea, rejecting society’s preconceived notions of ‘appropriate-wear’, and oozing a too-cool-to-care aura. Think Rody Mullen who carried the baggy fit from denim to cargo shorts. Baggies were not also a symbol of hip hop’s takeover but also a staple for skaters which, to this day in one size or the other, has stayed a part of the relaxed look.
But no one did it as baggy as Soulja Boy, whose name is even referred to when speaking about baggy pants. Known for wearing the most oversized trousers, and matched it with oversized everything, the early 00s rapper cemented a silhouette that influenced countless subcultures to come. The new it look became one where the challenge was to make sure your pants stayed above your knees, due to the sheer size of them causing them to never sit right on the waist. Keeping up with the ‘simply not giving a f*ck’ attitude, the under-showing, whether boxers or thongs, trend was born and stayed for decades to come in the rebellious youth’s ways. The Crank That artist influenced so many, even the more unlikely such as Avril Lavigne’s Sk8ter Boi era or Billie Eilish’s style.
Unfortunately, the reign had to end someday. And by the late 00s and early 2010s, famous figures such as Kanye West pushed for slimmer fit and the baggy jeans were no longer. Replaced by its antagonistic cousin the skinny jeans, the former creeped its way back into our lives in a straighter fit. While the ultra-wides have tried to make a comeback where all things make a comeback, TikTok, it seems as though no one can agree on whether to bring them back or not. Nonetheless, they will always be remembered as a symbol of an era-defining period for hip hop, as well as becoming the uniform for skaters and break dancers alike.