-Kazeem Kuteyl, Staff

“Snapbacks back, snapbacks back” a song by hip-hop artist, Tyga bellowed from the speakers as I took my seat at Chris Brown’s F.A.M.E. concert this past September. It’s a bold move, even for famous rappers, to take credit for a movement that has taken street fashion culture ablaze.

While the increasing popularity of snapbacks may not seem like a big deal to some, it is interesting to note the impact music culture has on street fashion and how it can generate certain movements. For example, Kanye West was photographed numerous times wearing wooden bead chains, specifically the “Jesus Piece” made by Good Wood NYC. I bought three pieces from the website myself, and while walking downtown Toronto and partying at my favorite clubs, I’m beginning to notice more people wearing the same wooden bead chains purchased from Good Wood. This same idea of celebrity impact has furthered the resurgence of snapbacks on the streets. In Chris Brown’s 2010 music video “Holla at Me” featuring Tyga, Brown is seen wearing a vintage L.A. Raiders snapback and likewise, Tyga is wearing an L.A. Raiders Starter cap. Since the video dropped, snapbacks filled the street wear shops in many large cities.

An individual who has largely contributed to the snapback movement is Nick Matas, owner of Laces Toronto- a popular sneaker boutique in Vaughn, Ontario. Matas is considered to be a pioneer of bringing back snapbacks to Toronto, which is evident by both the slew of customers in his store, and how long Laces Toronto has been selling this particular style of hat.

“I started in August 2010. I own my own sneaker boutique, and we saw that the snapbacks were coming back so I went on Craigslist and looked for snapbacks,” explains Matas. “At the time they were so rare to find, so I found a dude and he had vintage- I mean 80s vintage- hats. We got them, made some money, and I eventually sourced out the manufactories.”

What’s interesting about Matas’ response is the particular timeframe that he began selling snapbacks. Chris Brown dropped his influential music video in April 2010, and Matas started Laces Toronto in August 2010, mainly focusing on selling snapbacks.

As an avid fan of street fashion culture, Laurier Brantford student Sahaj Bhathal, believes Chris Brown and Tyga largely influenced bringing snapbacks back.

“Music culture plays a huge role with street fashion,” says Bhathal. “Rappers especially are fashion icons. Kanye West and Tyler the Creator are examples of people that dictate what the new trends are going to be. Even certain brands like Supreme are brought to mainstream culture because of hip-hop groups like OFWGKTA.”

The craze of snapbacks has also come to Brantford streets rather unexpectedly. Mickey Cole, a sales associate at popular hat store Lids in Lynden Park Mall, says they received a slew of snapbacks three months ago and are selling them quite fast. Desiree Smith, another sales associate at Lids, adds in “I get groups of guys coming in asking specifically where the snapbacks are located.”

Snapbacks are going to remain in vogue for a while. New styles of the hat are being created everyday. For example, now stores are coming out with snapbacks where the snap and the brim are made entirely of snakeskin. Fashion blogs like hypebeast.com and lacestoronto.com have posted numerous photos of Kanye West, Jay-Z and Big Sean wearing them already. Although, the snakeskin version of snapbacks are high end and can retail for up to $400, I have no doubt that the fashion heads will fall for it. As long as we have fashion icons like Kanye West, Chris Brown and Tyga leading the pack, the forward momentum of innovative street wear will always exist.

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