Sundance documentary “Fresh Dressed” examines NYC black fashion culture

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]From Cross Colours to Fubu to Kani, hip-hop fashion continues to make a statement. By utilizing different brands, each person ensures his or her own unique style. Director Sacha Jenkins takes a closer look at the evolution of hip-hop culture by diving into the world of fashion in the Sundance Film Festival documentary, “Fresh Dressed.”


“Fresh Dressed” illustrates the desire to wear the best fashion. Using New York black communities, Jenkins finds New York fashion natives to explain what it means to dress “fresh.” This documentary marks the timeline of hip-hop customs and identifies how clothes became a large part of that culture.

“How you dressed was like armor,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins described how he could look at one person and instinctively know where they originated, whether it was the Bronx, Harlem or Brooklyn. Each area of New York had its own fashion representation. People who lived in one area would distinguish themselves from another area by wearing a certain type or form of clothing and “creating [their] own looks, based on their environment,” Jenkins said.

“Fresh Dressed” exemplifies how clothes represent each person’s identity. Buying name-brand clothing and being “fresh” was more important than having money. People would keep “fresh” by creating their own style, which would range from thick-laced shoes to patched denim vests.

According to the documentary, the best clothes seemed to be the top brands, which included Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. As more people spent money on name-brand apparel, more people wanted to have clothes that were distinctively their own. The need for specific black American “fresh” apparel was at hand, and Dapper Dan saw the need. Dapper Dan, a hip-hop tailor in the ‘80s, shared his story in this documentary. He designed clothes to look like expensive brands and sold them while adding a little bit of flair to each piece of clothing.

“I blackenized [the clothing],” Dapper Dan said.

His business supported the black community by giving people the kind of clothing they wanted. Other fashion enthusiasts noticed what Dapper Dan was doing and formed their own businesses, creating an array of black American brands. Each designer was out there to create his or her own distinctive brand.

Many known fashion designers and icons were featured in this film and gave their take on what “fresh” meant to them. These designers and icons included André Leon Talley, Kanye West, Karl Kani, Daymond John, Carl Jones and many others. Their styles created new heights for future designers and a new definition of what it means to be “fresh.”

Being “fresh dressed” was and still is an important motive, as fashion gives people the opportunity to express their own individual style. Though it may seem a trivial factor, clothes determine a person’s personality. Clothes are a form of expression that each person uses as a way to represent his or her individuality. “Fresh Dressed” takes the audience through a journey of attention-grabbing brands that shaped hip-hop’s culture.

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