Q & A WITH TIM LANSDEN
Q: Why do young men wear their pants below the buttocks?
A: To be hip and fashionable. Most of them have no idea that the fashion originated in prison, and some kids do it because they have no positive role models at home.
Q: Is it possible to wear the hip-hop/urban style without wearing the baggy pants?
A: I think so. If you wear them slightly below the waist where they’re bagging just a little, you can still look hip and decent. I like the look with a long shirt hanging out the waist. For a dressier look, tuck the shirt in and let it blouse over the pants.
Q: How do the young men keep their pants from falling down?
A: That’s the crazy part. They have to hold them up with their hands. They typically wear several pairs of shorts, usually different colors, so that the shorts will show.
It’s not unusual for some fashions to raise eyebrows. The topless bathing suit did so in the 1960s, and ultra low-rider jeans have in the last decade. One modern trend among young men, though, has caused the masses to wonder: How can they walk?
The urban, hip-hop pants that often hang below the buttocks of young men who wear them is a fad that crosses cultures and continental divides. And it appears that the slouchy style continues to grow in popularity.
“I like to wear my pants below my waist to a certain degree, but I don’t like them below my bottom,” said Tim Lansden, 30, an employee at M&J Shoes, a footwear and clothing store in St. Elmo.
“You can still achieve the hip-hop style without exposing your backside. Young men look so stupid walking around holding up their pants with their hands. And what’s really crazy is that they’re wearing belts.”
Suzanne Bishop, owner of Frankie & Julian’s, a fashion boutique on Frazier Avenue, says there’s “a lot of hip-hop style — baggy pants, big jewelry and oversized clothing — in Chattanooga, but you see a lot more of it in big cities like New York and Atlanta. In fact, Atlanta has become a big hip-hop hub.” Some might be surprised to learn where the style originated.
“Sagging began in prison, where oversized uniforms were issued without belts to prevent suicide and their use as weapons,” reported The New York Times last year. “The style spread through rappers and music videos, from the ghetto to the suburbs and around the world.”
Artist Richard Arthurs, 45, a native Jamaican vacationing in Chattanooga, said the low-riding pants first appeared in his homeland about three years ago.
“There are a lot of us in Jamaica who don’t like the style,” Mr. Arthurs said.
Mr. Arthurs said youngsters in Jamaica are mimicking fashions worn by rap artists from the United States.
“Just because a kid wears the baggy pants doesn’t mean they’re bad kids,” he said.
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...