Friday, April 22nd, 2005

Jeans and Hip-Hop

“Calvin Klein’s no friend of mine. Don’t want nobody’s name on my behind.”

Back from Boulder, no thanks to America West, and in the saddle. This piece, “Who Pays $600 for Jeans?”, in yesterday’s New York Times is some of the best reporting on hip-hop’s impact on style in a long time. Trebay–it should be noted–has probably been the best reporter period on style and hip-hop since the early 80s.

In the last half of my book, I was talking a lot about the shift in the culture industry from mainstream to niche, and what that has had to do with making hip-hop a central global commodity. The rise of $600 jeans is a parallel, and not surprising, marker of that shift.

It’s not that there haven’t always been $600 jeans, it’s that they’re more in demand than ever. Trebay doesn’t mention this, but when was the last time this trend happened? When a niche lifestyle–disco–went mainstream about 20 years ago. The difference these days, and why this is a trend that won’t go away, is that now the niches are the mainstream.

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