Biggie Smalls was known for his style on the mic as well as his wardrobe style. He had the gift of gab and the gift of garb so to speak. In this article, we will be looking at some of the clothing brands and clothing items that Biggie wore during his career. He took many chances fashion wise and pioneered several trends which persist until today in the rap world.
Biggie wearing a Karl Kani raglan shirt | Photo courtesy of karlkani.com
Biggie, as many will know, was from Brooklyn, and he repped this hip-hop brand from fellow Brooklynite, Carl "Kani" Williams. Initially, the Karl Kani brand got its start as a "Big & Tall" brand but eventually became a staple hip-hop fashion brand. The bright colors and bold street look fit Biggie's personality.
The Kangol 504
Biggie wearing a classic in hip-hop fashion: A Kangol 504 cap | Photo courtesy of kangol.com
The Kangol Driver's Cap is a classic piece of headwear which had been previously picked up by Golden Era rappers like Slick Rick as well as the early B-Boys. Biggie just brought it back to prominence in the 90s and made it his own.
The Red and Black Lumberjack
CJ Wallace wearing one of Biggie's early outfits
Biggie famously rapped in, "Juice", which is one of his autobiographical tracks, "Way back, when I had the red and black lumberjack / With the hat to match". Although we couldn't find a picture of the man himself in this getup, check out Faith and her son CJ (Biggie's son) in this cute picture.
The Turtleneck Sweater
Biggie was able to make turtlenecks cool
A 70s hangover, think Starsky & Hutch, That 70s Show, or late the late Apple creator Steve Jobs. Here Biggie showed once again the ability to think outside the box. He combined the Turtleneck with a Carhartt jacket and voila a brand new look had emerged.
The creator of BAPE sent Biggie one of the first BAPE camo jackets | Photo courtesy of BAPE.COM
In the early 90s, a lot of East Coast rappers were wearing camouflage jackets. And the only place to get one was at an army surplus store or in the outdoor sporting goods section. However, a Japanese designer (and hip-hop fan) with an acute sense of trends decided to make his won jacket. The brand was called BAPE. Once again Biggie was trailblazing in the fashion world.
All Over Print
In today's streetwear scene, All Over Prints are all the rage. However, back in Biggie's day, this was not the case. This is another example of Biggie's willingness to go outside the box. Even though he was a street rapper, he was not afraid to wear bright colors and these flamboyant prints would eventually become a staple of hip-hop fashion.
The Coogi Sweater
Rare photo Biggie wearing a Coogi t-shirt on a boat circa '95
MTV stylist Groovey Lew states that Biggie got inspired from a kid in his own neighborhood named Walt G. Lew says “Big fell in love with this kid’s style right there — just took it to the next level for the world to see. If you weren’t Bill Cosby or just a rich motherf*cker from Australia playing golf, nobody knew about Coogi. Big homie started running around with it, and that’s what opened the hood up to it.”
Due to our current fascination with 90s vintage style, the Coogi brand has seen a resurgence. High profile rappers like Drake and A$ap Rocky have rocked the Coogi sweater lately, as well as MMA superstar Conor McGregor. But, once again, Biggie was the first to wear it, years and years ago.
Biggie chilling with his cane
Unlike the "pimps" out there, the cane was a necessity for Biggie. Back in 1996, he had a very serious car crash which made him permanently dependent on a cane. Turning lemons into lemonade, Puffy and Biggie used this to spearhead their next look. From then on they had a 1920s-inspired gangster aesthetic with three-piece suits and homburg hats. See Life After Death and No Way Out albums.
Versace Shades, Shirts and Houses?
A great photo of the legendary Notorious B.I.G. wearing his Versace shades
It's safe to say that Biggie had a real affinity for the luxury brand, Versace. From the famous Medusa sunglasses to tailor-made silk shirts, and even using Versace fabric to upholster his parts of his house. Biggie was so into Versace that he would even go to their fashion shows.
It was the music video for "Hypnotize" which sparked the madness for Versace Medusa sunglasses in the hip-hop community. However, the sunglasses he wore, were a limited edition, so it's unlikely that anybody could follow suit.
The Homburg Hat
An amazing photo of Biggie on stage wearing one of his Homburg hats
Like the cane that Biggie was forced to use, the Homburg hat became apart of Biggie's new crime boss persona. The wide-brimmed hat went perfectly with his new taste for tailored suits. This look made Biggie seems larger than life. The album Life After Death shows him in this style and it will be the last way that we remember him.
The Jesus Piece
You can see the contours of Biggie's Jesus piece here
Every rapper and his momma have been rocking the Jesus piece lately. But once again Biggie has started the trend. In fact, on this occasion, he might have been the very first. Some sources state that Biggie was to rock it, although it's certain he was among the earliest to wear one.
Biggie recruited Tito Caicedo to create three customized Jesus pieces for him for a total of $30,000. One for himself, one for Lil' Cease and one for his best friend D-Roc. When Biggie died in '97, his son CJ inherited the chain. Later Jay-Z would borrow the chain and wear it in the booth for motivation.
Fact: Biggie rapped about his Jesus piece on "I Love The Dough" which also features Jay-Z.