Just when you’ve had enough of fashion documentaries along comes this ensemble. With its opening salvo of animated B-Boys hanging out against graffiti-strewn project buildings to Afrika Bambaataa’s Planet Rock you know this is going to be fun. And it is… until it belatedly turns into just another fashion documentary.
he Kangol hat, the fat laces, the baggy jeans, the loud colours – the Fresh style dominated electro and hip hop in the 1980s; one French rapper here admits to being attracted to the image over the music. Making his directorial debut, Sacha Jenkins takes the viewer on an entertaining trip chronicling the rise of hip-hop fashion and how it and the music influenced each other over a thirty year period. After an overview – how clothes meant status and how people would mirror the animal kingdom and change appearance to attract a mate – Jenkins drops us right into the middle of 1970s New York where gangs would use personally tailored jackets to align themselves with their gang’s colours; once peace was forged between the warring factions, the ‘battles’ moved to the microphone but the style remained.

ldquo;They may not have had the best apartment or the best car but they had the best clothes.” Jenkins moves through the labels - Puma, Polo, Tommy Hilfiger, Run DMC and ‘My Adidas’ – and what it meant to the wearer, which was a great leveller between star and audience who found themselves wearing the same style. Fresh Dressed is energetic and insightful (one could be identified as being from Brooklyn, The Bronx, Harlem or Queens solely down to their clothes) and Jenkins keeps things moving through the years at brisk pace.
0s Electro morphs into hip hop, which becomes mainstream in the 90s. As the rise of the music is charted, ‘urban’ clothing companies emerge - first to style the hip hop fans in their area but then grow into global brands (Dapper Dan, Shirt Kings, etc). Cross Colours dress Will Smith in Fresh Prince and Jamie Foxx on In Living Colour. Tupac sports Fubu. Snoop in Kani. Rappers start their own lines that are supposed to be extensions of their music: Wu Tang Clan and Wu Wear, Puffy Daddy and Sean John, Kanye West and Pastelle. Eminem’s Shady, however, was deemed a cash-in.
nce Fresh Dressed makes it here, where the cool and funny retro footage is dumped in favour of runways and dull talk about high fashion, the documentary loses its energy and bounciness. But there’s a good hour of fun up until then, and it’s nice to see Kid N’ Play back in action too.