hip hop in my haute couture
When you consider what pairs well with fine French fashion, you might think about Italian leathers, English tweeds, and, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, Indian block prints. You likely don’t think about the height of 1990s hip hop. After all, its penchant for in-your-face prints, baggy silhouettes, and large doses of attitude doesn’t necessarily jive with clean-lined separates and sharp workwear. But that unexpected combination is exactly what makes Sandro Homme’s collaboration with sportswear brand Helly Hansen so covetable. It’s a refining (and expertly measured toning down) of the swaggering 90s streetwear codes that so many brands — think Gucci, Polo Ralph Lauren — have tapped into this season.
A quick run-down for the uninitiated: Helly Hansen was founded in 1877 in Moss, Norway and largely quietly turned out tough, innovative performance wear built to withstand the rugged Scandinavian winters for over a century. In the mid-90s, the brand became a fast favourite of the booming hip-hop scene, with stars like Funkmaster Flex, LL Cool J, and Mobb Deep skyrocketing the its boldly colored puffers into the mainstream. If you flicked on MTV in 1997, it’s likely you spotted artists rocking HH branded windbreakers and T-shirts with their Jordans.
Sandro’s reimagining of the collection revisits Helly Hansen’s most iconic pieces — though it ditches more outré colors like neon orange and blinding yellow, in favour of styles that highlight the brand’s deep mastery of technical materials. There are of course styles that you could easily see blinged out on tour — hoodies emblazoned with Helly Hansen’s Norwegian flag logo and a shiny, patent-leather looking puffer jacket emblazoned with the brands more modern logo down the back in particular. But both could easily also slot into your weekend wardrobe, adding a streetwear edge to jeans and Ts.
Elsewhere, the line is surprisingly refined, leaning closer to Sandro Homme’s typical minimalist aesthetic. A sporty duffle bag gets a luxe upgrade thanks to richly pebbled leather, and when the collar is undone, a red tartan technical windbreaker — complete with nearly-impenetrable double-layer fabric — looks like a statement-making blouson. Everything pairs surprisingly well with Sandro’s sharply tailored trousers and chic boots, adding just the right amount of attitude to otherwise buttoned up outfits.