Contrary to what some people think, hip hop is not merely a form of music, but an entire culture. A culture comes with, or develops, its own music, attitudes, traditions, and particularly, clothing. The beauty of hip hop is that, even though it started out as pretty exclusive for the African-American population, it has become a shared culture.
This has had a huge impact on the fashion world. 20 years ago, when this fasion was still relatively new, you would not have seen any one but young African-Americans and city kids sporting hip clothing, today it is not uncommon to see virtually anyone wearing fashion considered to be trendy. Businessmen pair suit coats, jeans, and sneakers; women don brightly-colored track suits to do their grocery shopping.
One of the things that makes this style of clothing so accessible, is that it is NOT an all-or-nothing type of thing. Part of this style is often extravagance, but if you think a look may be too much for you, it is completely acceptable, and even encouraged to pick a part of the look to claim as your own. For a woman, this could mean wearing a killer bag by a top fashion designer with your business suit. For a man it could mean loosening up the cut of his pants a little bit.
Most elements of hip clothing integrate really well with other types of clothing, making it very versatile. There is no limit to the style combination you can have. Many brands that people in the hip hop world consider to be staples are staples in many types of fashion. A good bag, great pair of heels, a nicely cut suit coat, or new pair of sneakers can be a humongous boost to a stale wardrobe of any kind, but give an added fun flair.
Some of the brand names that are most influential in hip hop clothing right now are rocawear, Phat Pharm, Baby Phat, Apple Bottom, and House of Dereon. These are actually all run by people who are or have been hip artists and/or producers, so they are at the forefront of hip fashion. There are also very classic brands that have made their way into hip fashion. Gucci, Prada, Coach, and Polo are all very popular among all types of fashion, especially hip hop.
It has never been easier to get or afford upscale brands like the ones found in hip culture. An internet search for your favorite brand, or even favorite artist, will yield results leading you to any one of the numerous sites dealing in hip-hop clothing. There are outlets for virtually every brand, and even sites that get overstocked or clearance items and offer them at a fraction of their original prices. So, whether you like the music, or just the clothing related to being hip, whether you are young or old, rich or poor, hip hop clothing is accessible to you. Do not hesitate to incorporate it into your own personal style.