Why Sir, You’re a Dandy Gentleman, You Surely Don’t Listen to Hip-Hop?!
Does musical taste affect style or vice versa? Or are people too quick to judge when a person does not adhere to what is perceived as the style of dress of avid listeners of a particular musical genre?
This New York Times article about boutique and label Brooklyn Circus got me thinking about this very subject. In it, Ouigi Theodore, founder of the label, also known as ‘the bearded dandy’, is quoted as saying, “When I travel overseas, people see the way we dress and say: ‘You guys don’t listen to hip-hop. You’re not urban.’ Yes, we are.”
Now, why would one presuppose that neither Mr. Theodore nor his coterie of friends and associates listen to hip-hop simply because they’ve traded baggy jeans and hoodies for wool trousers and newsboy caps? Statements like these just goes to show how personal style is like a double-edge sword: while style serves as a means of self-expression, it can also lead to misrepresentation, and stereotyping. Mr. Theodore explains that his mission is to redefine black urban street style, and expand hip-hop fashion beyond the sagging jeans that define it to this day.
Perhaps sartorial typecasting isn’t as prevalent in other circles. Surely, I doubt anyone questions the allegiance of country music enthusiasts or jazz pundits to their musical genre of choice based on whether they sport cowboy hats or thick-rimmed glasses. But for urban peacocks, who dare stray from the sartorial model, that’s a whole other story. I can’t think of a musical genre that holds as much sway as hip-hop. No other musical genre has led to branding the way hip-hop has. Urban clothing lines, urban alcoholic beverages, urban jewelry, all elements which have transformed hip-hop into a lifestyle. Perhaps this is why Mr. Theodore’s work is so important. Letting people know that modern-day dandies are also part of the urban landscape will begin a dialogue about style and culture and hopefully spread the message that no one style of dress should come to define an entire community.
Photo via thebkcircus.com