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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 November 2005, 11:17 GMT
The price of being hip
By Denise Winterman
BBC News Magazine

Hip-hop artist Skinnyman at the Urban Music Awards
Skinnyman keeps his label on
Trousers practically round the knees and sports shirts the size of a two-man tent, hip-hop has spawned many fashion trends. So don't cut the price tag off your new hat just yet.

"She was like 'do you realise you've still got the price tag on your hat?' I was like 'yeah, it's fashion'. She just walked off like she was a bit scared."

One of the UK's most promising hip-hop artists, Sway, recalls a recent encounter in the street with an elderly woman.

What the pensioner confused for absent mindedness is the latest fashion trend to be adopted by the hip-hop fraternity. At last week's Urban Music Awards in London, price tags were swinging from most of the baseball caps being worn.

Like so many hip-hop trends before, it is all about putting your wealth on show for all to see.


"Coming from the manor and being the type of person I am, when you get something new, you want people to know it's new," says Sway, who beat 50 Cent and The Game to win best hip-hop artist at this year's Mobo Awards, despite still being unsigned.

"So when you've got a tag on your hat it means you've just got the hat."

Urban youth consultant Glen Yearwood says the trend is all part and parcel of hip-hop's "bling" culture.

Sway wants people to know his caps are new
"It's about displaying what you've got," he says. "Urban culture in the UK is fuelled by the hip-hop culture of Jamaica and North America.

"In Jamaica it's usual for kids to keep labels on clothes and this is the UK's own definition of that trend."

G Money, DJ on the BBC's urban music radio station 1Xtra, says following the trend is not just as simple as leaving the price tag attached.

"It's all about the brand as well and it has to be New Era [a brand of baseball cap], you don't just do it with any old cap," he says.

"The tag sort of acts as a flag, letting people know what you're into and what you're about."

And while the trend may make little sense to those outside the hip-hop scene, it's easier to understand than some fashions that have gone before it - even to those in the know.

"Back in the day it was all about leaving on the plastic hook used by the shop to hang up your baseball cap," says G Money.

"I don't know why I did that, but I did. It's just fashion."

Your comments:

Surely its simply so they can take it back to the shop and get a refund after they've worn it once?
Alex, Northampton

So what's new? Lewis Carroll started that trend about 150 years ago!
Martin Brooks, Windsor / UK

I live in New York city and despite growing up amidst the hip-hop culture and being a big hip-hop fan myself, have to concede that most of hip-hop fashion makes no sense at all. It's simply a diversion, something to do, rather than having any particular wisdom behind it. In my time I've seen baseball hat fashion go from bended brim to straight brim and back again multiple times, styles that include rolling one pant leg up, having only one sleeve on on a T-Shirt, and so on - all of them make no sense except to convey to others that those doing it are 'cool' enough to differentiate themselves by creating or leading new fashion trends.
Tariq F, New York, NY

Sorry, no... not new. This trend appeared some years ago here in Manhattan. Maybe even as long ago as ten years now.
Lon Hutchison, New York, USA

It won't last. A young chap swaggered onto the bus I was travelling on the other day with a large cardboard label swinging from his cap - much to the amusement of two young children who proceeded to giggle and point at him for the entire journey. They were just doing what everyone was thinking. And what happens to the label when it rains?
fi, birmingham england

If there's a garment I want to buy which displays the maker's label to the outside,I ask the shop assistant to remove it before I buy it.Otherwise I want to know how much per month I would be paid for wearing the label for all to see.
Eamonn O'Malley, Dübendorf,Switzerland

Im natural hip hop, I didnt even know I had my tag still on!!!!!!!!!!
Angela Martin, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

I think it's terribly sad that we're harking back to a primitive era where obvious wealth is a sign of status. Unfortunately, as a society we never seem to get past this and see people's talents and abilities as a reason to revere and respect them rather than how much money they can drape themselves with. I'm afraid I find it all rather vulgar, but then again I'm not an expert on fashion so maybe they know something I don't.
Mona Starr, Leicester, UK

What has happened to the good old British reserve, to look poor when you are loaded. It is so much classier than bling.
Patricia Gibbs, Washington Tyne and Wear

I do not believe that people who are not familiar or associated with a particular couture should stand as such critics towards the scene. The Urban culture is consistently condemned for one or another reason by hypocrites whose affinity and cultural behaviour is far more incredulous than our own. The tag on the side of a fitted cap signifies individualism and as has been said, group identity. Additionally if you take a walk through some of London's most prestigious areas such as Knightsbridge for example, you will find individuals walking the High Streets with Jeans hanging off their behinds which merely signifies the influential ability of Urban music, furthermore these individuals are in no way related to the Urban couture. Aroma ( 89ers ) Ole Skool veteran
Christopher White , East London

Does anyone else yearn for the days when youth culture involved more than just 'Look how much I payed for my hat, which is exactly the same as yours, and yours and yours'? Its too depressing for words...
SL, London

Brilliant idea. Next time I buy something from a charity shop I'll definitely leave the tag on - after all, "The tag sort of acts as a flag, letting people know what you're into and what you're about."
Susie Schofield, Dundee, Tayside


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