Everyone already knows about the Beastie Boys’ indelible musical legacy. They’re Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, the best-selling hip-hop group of all time—and they played a vital, irreplaceable role in helping hip-hop cross over to the mainstream. But the Beasties had an equally undeniable, if often overlooked, impact on fashion and style as well.
Over the group’s 30-year run, they evolved from punk to hip-hop to skater to suits, setting the stage for the mashed-up street wear culture that we still obsess over today. Along the way, they predicted, or helped jump-start, dozens of microtrends, from hood-ornament necklaces to ‘70s revivalism to snarky hipster gear. Mike D even helped found X-Large, one of the first and most influential streetwear brands. Here, we track the trio’s two-decade sartorial journey, talking to the following Beastie experts and associates along the way:
- Cey Adams: Legendary graphic designer and long-time friend of the Beasties. Created the cover art for the group’s debut single, “Cookypuss,” and several T-shirts and posters over the years
- Eli Bonerz: Co-founder of X-Large
- Glen E. Friedman: Iconic photographer who captured many of the group’s most enduring images, including the cover art for Check Your Head
- Alan Light: Author of 2006 book The Skills to Pay the Bills: The Story of the Beastie Boys
- Ricky Powell: Photographer, downtown legend, and so-called “fourth Beastie Boy,” who was a close friend and behind-the-scenes lensman for the group for over a decade
Alright now, hear this: Click on to check out the Beastie Boys’ Style History.