Skip to main content

Baggy Jeans

Baggy Jeans

Baggy pants on young men could be spotted early in the 1990s, but they remained a largely "underground" style, worn only by a limited number of people pushing the edge of style, until hiphop replaced grunge as the dominant music form among urban teenagers. By the mid-1990s long baggy shorts became common. Youngsters now demanded that jeans, which had long been a major part of casual dress, be as baggy as possible, with waists several sizes too large revealing the upper band of underwear. Retailers like Gap and Old Navy introduced baggy lines of jeans. Designer Tommy Hilfiger (1951) created an "urban prep" line, copying a street style he observed in which baggy denim was paired with crisp white button-up shirts.

Explanations vary as to why baggy jeans became so popular. Some claim that trendsetters in the hip-hop community adopted the style to copy the pants that prisoners are issued when they are incarcerated. Sagging pants, according to this theory, reflect the fact that prison inmates are not allowed to have belts, for fear they will hang themselves in their cells. Others contend that the fashion for baggy jeans originated with black basketball stars like Michael Jordan (1963), who objected to the short shorts mandated for many years by the National Basketball Association and began to wear longer, baggier shorts. Still others believe that baggy jeans have their roots in the skateboarding and snowboarding communities, where participants needed freedom of movement but also wanted to look different from other people.

Whatever their origins, the baggy jeans trend had a profound effect on the sportswear industry. Jeans maker Levi's, which was slow to offer baggy jeans, saw its sales fall 15 percent from 1996 to 1998. While hip-hop fashions remained popular into 2003, signs emerged that the style was shifting back to formfitting and low-rise boot cut jeans, jeans that fit low on the waist and flare out at the ankle.


George, Nelson. Hip Hop America. New York: Penguin, 1999.

Westbrook, Alonzo. Hip Hoptionary: The Dictionary of Hip Hop Culture. New York: Broadway Books, 2002.

[See also Volume 3, Nineteenth Century: Blue Jeans ]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Baggy Jeans." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . 18 Jul. 2019 <>.

"Baggy Jeans." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . (July 18, 2019).

"Baggy Jeans." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Retrieved July 18, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.