Personal Style

Guest Writer, Andy Achimu Reveals His Style Inspirations from the Past to the Present

I recently asked my London-based friend Andy to write an article for my blog, after liasing back and forth over BB and Email; we decided that he would write an article about the main artists that inspired his Style Journey.  The below are the fruits of his labour.  Thank you Andy!

Artists that inspired my fashion sense growing up in reverse sequential order-

1)      Pharrell Williams. Years of influence: early 2000s

FACT: Pharrell Williams is a cool dude and he had a huge influence on me growing up. His style was unique: a skinny dude who successfully merged powder-pushing, project-talk – and all the trappings of luxury that came with it – with the rebellious, middle-finger-up skate culture that came to prominence in the 80s and 90s.

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At the time, skate culture was relatively new to hip-hop heads, and skaters were not recognised consumers of rap/rap-culture. Instead, skaters listened to genres like punk and hardcore. The hint is in the skateboard world’s pre-eminent monthly magazine, the indicatively titled: Thrasher.

Pharrell successfully brought these two worlds together and embodied them in everything from his music to his fashion. He’d make inter-galactic hit songs for everyone from Britney Spears to Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and he’d rock a solid gold watch and canary yellow diamonds with trucker hats, skinny jeans and Vans – and all the while looking pretty damn cool.

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I – as did many other impressionable teenagers as the time – lapped it up insatiably, and no one can deny that Pharrell’s style has played a significant part in modern day pop culture. Gone are the baggy jeans and “Timbboots” of yesteryear; from Lil’ Wayne to Justin Bieber, cool kids the world over now rock retro T-shirts and skate shoes.

I loved everything about Pharrell’s style as a teenager, and so did many others. That’s probably why Esquire crowned him the world’s best dressed man in 2005.

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2)      The Fresh Prince. Years of influence: 90s and 2000s.

Yes! The Fresh Prince provided the first regular taste of hip-hop culture many 80s babies encountered, delivered via the living-room box on a weekly basis. Will, his leather waistcoats and lumberjacks came along at a time when slap-on bracelets (remember those?) and tie-dye was threatening to take hold permanently.

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Will reflected a lot of the fashion around in that era. That included everything from metal peaked Raiders caps, to the illustrious (but now completely garish) silk repeat-print style Versace and Gucci shirts made popular by the 2Pacs and Biggies of the day

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One of the best things about growing up with the Fresh Prince on TV (other than the sumptuous Hilary) was the fact that his style evolved as yours did. So where Will was rocking the turtle necks and acid wash dungaree shorts in the early episodes – a latent fashion hangover from the 80s – Big-Willy-from-Philly’s style had discernibly changed to include lumberjacks and timberland boots more synonymous with 90s fashion.

There was also something pretty accessible about the idea of Will being a street-kid with street-kid fashion, having to conform to living in hoighty-toighty surroundings. In a comical, early manifestation of my own narcissism, he reminded me of me!

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One thing is certain though, Will was cool. My parents can thank (read:blame) the Fresh Prince among others, for the inordinate amount of money they spent on my Timberland collection just so I could be cool!

3)      Ozone and Turbo: Years of influence: Early 90s

While they’re not musicians in their own right, Ozone and Turbo of the 80s cult-classic Breakin’ movies are hip-hop royalty – just think of that broom scene!

These guys had unparalleled influence on my fashion sense as a kid – both directly and indirectly. Who can forget those belly-high, wide-necked ultraviolet t-shirts, parachute pants, the studded arm bands? And of course…the feather ear accessories.

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Looking back, it would be easy to make the case for these two having created some of the most horrific fashion faux-pas’ of all time. But back then, these two were too cool for school or the rules.

Born in the year that the two Breakin’ movies debuted, I never actually got round to watching the movies – and therefore being influenced by them – until the 90s.

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However, my older brother was just shy of his eighth birthday when the second Breakin’ movie came out, and was just getting to that impressionable stage. He already had a selection of studded arm bands and belts, and they were pretty much the coolest things I’d ever seen! They left a lasting impression on me and so one day, tired of getting my ass-kicked (read: telling my parents) by my brother for borrowing his gear, I started to assemble what eventually became an impressive collection of my own tacky breakdance gear.

Ozone and Turbo’s legacy is still evident in b-boy culture of today. Unidentifiable track jackets of the 80s have made way for Adidas track tops of the modern era while some of the very same footwear – think shell-toe Adidas, high tops and chuck tailors – is just as popular today.

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PS. Any movie that conceived the careers of Ice T and Jean-Claude Van Damme was always going to have a profound effect on me…

Words- Andy Achimu

Photo Editing- Biki John