The Evolution of Denim in Hip-Hop

Japanese denim is deemed "next level" shit.

When: Early 2000s

Japanese denim brand, Evisu, was a favorite of rappers in the beginning of the millenium. The labor-intensive process, making the jeans on narrow shuttle looms, justified the $300 price tag for many guys. Evisu's huge seagull logo on the back pockets made them easy to spot—and only grew more conspicuous over time. Everyone from Jay Z ("Jigga That Nigga") to Young Jeezy ("Bury me a G") and T.I. ("ASAP") have shouted out the brand on songs. Hong Kong's Red Monkey jeans got a following from Jay Z, Diddy, and got a shoutout from Ghostface Killah on "Ghost Is Back," while Jay Z was spotted rocking a low-slung pair of Samurai jeans with a Hundreds hoodie during 2006's Hangar Tour.

More importantly, it signaled a shift for rappers to look towards Eastern brands as a signifier of quality. European brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Versace have long been held in high regard thanks to their brand cachet, but now rappers looked to the east at not just Evisu, but brands like Samurai and A Bathing Ape for gear that would allow them to stunt on everyone else.

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