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The Journal - Black Denim Hero image

Unbound by genre: the black denim silhouette

Fashion has always been an integral part of music, maybe not as crucial as beats, chords, words, and melody. But no matter which decade or genre you dip the proverbial toe in, clothes have been a massive part of the artist's personae. And the black denim silhouette reigns supreme.

Pop music – whether it be hip hop, punk, black – or any other shade of metal – wouldn't be the same without black denim jeans and jackets. It's been a wardrobe staple for artists and musicians since the 50s. And even though blue jeans have been the topic of many a song, black denim has given artists their savvy and cool.

The Clash is considered by many as one of the best-dressed bands in pop music history. They may not be as synonymous with a black denim silhouette as, for example, the Ramones. However, black jeans definitely played an essential role in the Clash aesthetic. And when they put black denim in the mix, they wore it better than most bands.

The Ramones wore denim. And even though they mostly wore blue jeans, the cool and indifferent aesthetic conveyed through the black and white imagery still appeals to many people. And those monochrome images still sell black denim, like hotcakes.

Black Denim in the Pre-Kanye-Wearing-Skinnies-Era

In 2016, Kanye West had a social beef with Wiz Khalifa, in which West let Wiz know that he, Kanye West, was to thank for putting people on to skinny jeans. We won't argue with Mr. West, but seeing the pop cultural significance of the black denim silhouette, everyone knows it's been around since the early days of hip hop.

Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five had their biker gang vibe and aesthetic with disco and glam. Leather, suede, or denim didn't matter; The Furious Five wanted their pants really tight.

Run-D.M.C. – a trio you probably picture wearing German tracksuits, bucket hats, and laceless shell toe shoes rather than jeans – used fashion as a revolt against conformity as much as their music. In the early 80s, a community leader in Hollis, Queens, labeled people wearing jeans and sneakers as felons. So they would wear black, slim-fit black denim and bomber jackets.

Another prolific hip hop group that favored slim, black jeans were, Compton's N.W.A. They adopted a more casual, sporty take on the black denim silhouette and wore them with coaches' jackets, white sneakers, and Raiders hats.

As the 90s progressed, jeans gradually became looser, then relaxed. And stayed that way for a few years. So, Kanye West wasn't wrong; he may have helped reintroduce the slim and tight-fit jeans midway into the 2000s, but the black denim silhouette is alive and well since the 1950s. And every day, artists worldwide put on black denim and help keep the silhouette at the height of cool.

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