There's always someone who's cooler, better, and smarter than the rest. He’s the kind of guy who isn't afraid to take a risk, or just flat-out see something that the average population doesn't. That counts double for current day since the Internet has made dressing well easier than ever. We're always a click away from the latest batch of style essentials you need, a spectrum of style icons to model your wardrobe after, the best/hottest/coolest/most important/brandiest of brands, and even prescribed style risks to take. Still, even among these well-dressed, tightly edited lists of style icons, there's a division of dudes who are just cooler—who made the leap, broke the rules, and defined the future of fashion as we know it. These men are one step above the best-dressed men in history, these are the 10 Fashion Rebels Who Changed How Men Dress Today.
If anyone can popularize a hat that's most accurate comp is the logo for a sandwich chain, they deserve to be on this list. Pharrell might be the icon on this list that is flamed the most. Even if we may not co-sign every one of his looks, it's Pharrell's willingness to dress exactly how he always wants that makes him a style icon and rebel. Pharrell might be taking a lot of shots with his outfits, but he's hitting at a Kevin Durant-like clip. He has designs for plenty of cool guys and girls through his BBC line, creates dope one-of-a-kind clothing for himself by doodling on it, and has collaborated with huge brands like Uniqlo and adidas. He inspired legions of followers looking to copy his expert mix of luxe-meets-streetwear—but if we've learned anything from charting Pharrell, it's that he's always one step ahead of the game.
Rick Owens is the designer who spawned a thousand copycats. During his 21-year career as the designer of his eponymous label, Owens has refused to change his aesthetic; and in the past handful of years, he's really seen his vision bear fruit. Menswear designers are currently trying to play catch up to Owens' signature draping, black aesthetic; plus, Zara and H&M can't produce knock offs influenced by his style fast enough. Rick Owens has persevered through thousands of trends, and his unceasing design sensibilities have pushed through to define how generations of men dress today.
Kurt Cobain is a rebel in every sense of the word. Nirvana’s influence on the grunge genre reached further than just music—suddenly guys were cutting and patching up their jeans and putting flannels over T-shirts to look more like Cobain.
Cobain emerged from the ’80s, a decade defined by over-the-top outfits and flashy materialism, as an icon for the outsiders. His wardrobe consisted of clothes that were mismatched and hardly maintained—like clothes that had been selected during a blindfolded trip to a Seattle thrift store. The thing about Cobain is that he didn't care, and while generations have tried to emulate his look, it was his ability to look toward no one that made him a true fashion rebel and icon.
Before Marlon Brando your favorite laid-back essential, the white T-shirt, served exclusively as underwear. Men before Brando were slaves to the suit and button-up shirts. But when the ’50s icon took to the silver screen in movies like, A Streetcar Named Desire and The Wild One—wearing a white T-shirt and a biker jacket—he forever changed how we viewed the undergarment. The swagger that he pulled these looks off with inspired generations of men to try and emulate the casual style of dress. You can thank Brando every time you are well on your way to having three perfectly good outfits, after only dropping $5 on a three-pack of Hanes.
Andre 3000 may have only dipped his toe into the proverbial fashion pond, but the ripple effect greatly affected the generation of rappers who followed him. Up to the point when ATLiens was putting Atlanta on the map, rappers adhered to a pretty standard way of dress. Even the rappers who were interested in high fashion, like Tupac and Notorious B.I.G., only went so far as experimenting with gaudy brands, like Versace, that already fit their style. However, Andre boldly wore skirts, dressed like a dandy, and changed the perception of how a rapper was supposed to look. Andre's ripple broke open the floodgates for rappers like Kanye West, Pharrell, and A$AP Rocky, who have all made statements with their unique wardrobes and become legitimate forces in the fashion world.
In the early to mid-2000s, Nigo's BAPE took the baton from Stussy and made streetwear the monster industry it is today. The brand's unique all-over print hoodies became a favorite among the hip-hop set, specifically Kanye West and Pharrell, and helped take streetwear to the next level. Nigo also has his fingerprints all over sneaker culture after launching the BAPEsta, a clear Air Force 1 knock off that became one of the most coveted sneakers at the time. The shoe pushed Nike to start implementing the same sort of luxe touches—like patent leather and vibrant colorways—that were originally on Nigo's version.
Michael Jordan may not be the first person you think of when you think style—unless you're on the topic of most atrociously dressed athletes. However, by choosing the brand that promised to give him full attention, Nike, over Converse, which was the sneaker brand of choice for Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Julius Irving at the time, Jordan started laying the foundation for sneaker culture, as we know it today. His signature sneakers have created a fervent fan base, and eventually sold enough to justify Jordan having his own brand of Nike sneakers. Up to that point, sneaker money was diverted to tennis stars, and while adidas' Stan Smith has risen like a phoenix recently, NBA stars are the ones enjoying the signature sneakers now—they can thank Jordan for that.
Jordan was also the first professional basketball player to wear longer basketball shorts—a custom style he requested from the NBA apparel-providers at the time, Champion. Longer shorts have been the norm both on the court and in the streets, ever since. Can you imagine balling with your bros in short-shorts? Jordan really is the GOAT for preventing that.
During the ’80s, it was obvious that the blocks of Harlem were bubbling with new modes of music and dress. Unfortunately, it was also a time when corporate America was more interested in shutting down hip-hop's involvement in fashion than inviting it to the party. Until Run-DMC, that is. As the commercially successful hip-hop group at the time, Run-DMC defined and brought the music's athletic style to the mainstream. The group's song "My Adidas" provided the breaking point for when companies could no longer ignore hip-hop without sacrificing their profit margins. Adidas couldn't resist a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden all holding up its shoes, and subsequently handed Run-DMC the first multi-million endorsement deal for a hip-hop group. With a number of artists currently tied to the brand, including Big Sean, Pharrell, Pusha T, and Kanye West, "My Adidas" seems just as trend-setting as it did when the group performed it at MSG in 1986.
The ’90s were a rough time for men's style. Boot-cut jeans, corny short-sleeve, button-up shirts, and bad haircuts hadn't been eradicated from most guys’ looks. Remember Guy Fieri? We’ve come a long way since those dark days. Luckily, at the turn of the century, the then-Dior Homme designer started shrinking everything from jeans to T-shirts for guys like him, who appear to just be several toothpicks glued together. Admittedly, Raf Simons probably sparked Slimane when he sent skinny suits down the runway for his namesake label. But Slimane took it one step further, making everyday clothes for skinny guys, or men of all sizes, looking for better-fitting clothes. Girl’s jeans are no longer in vogue, but we've since reached a happy medium where clothes fit well, without showing every crease underneath.
Kanye West's influence on how men dress today is undeniable. We've been following the book of Yeezus for just over a decade now, from the beginning to current day, where his obsession lies more with plucking the coolest trends off the runways of Haider Ackermann, Raf Simons, Balmain, and Givenchy. Labels that should probably be cutting ’Ye a check for the amount of publicity he's brought them. West is rarely the very first to do something in music or fashion, but he takes the best trends that were bubbling below the mainstream and enshrines them on the top of a Yeezus-sized mountain.
While there were plenty of rappers before West who were interested in style, few have tried to present a women's collection during Paris Fashion Week, interned with Fendi, and collaborated with Louis Vuitton, Giuseppe Zanotti, Nike and adidas. You could easily argue he has made it cool for a generation of men to be interested in style and fashion.
By Cameron Wolf from COMPLEX.com