To become an influential fashion figure, chances are, you had to be influenced by someone else first. For the [artist id=”13432″]Notorious B.I.G.[/artist], that person was a flashy kid from Mount Vernon named Walt G.
According to veteran stylist Groovey Lew ([artist id=”1244169″]Diddy[/artist], [artist id=”1163822″]Jadakiss[/artist]), Biggie’s trademark look — Coogi sweaters and Kangol caps — was born when the Brooklyn roughneck first caught wind of Walt’s outfits.
“We used to go to [Manhattan club] the Grand on Sundays,” Lew told MTV News recently. “And my man had all the Coogis and the Kangols. And I got the pictures where G got his Kangol on and his Coogi, but Big had on Army jackets and Timberlands. So [Big] fell in love with this kid’s style right there — just took it to the next level for the world to see. If you weren’t Bill Cosby or just a rich mother—-er from Australia playing golf, nobody knew about [Coogi]. Big homie started running around with it, and that’s what opened the ’hood up to it.”
The colorful clothing line originated from Australian clothing company Coogi, which launched in 1969. But it wasn’t until Bill Cosby’s Heathcliff Huxtable sported them on “The Cosby Show” in the ’80s that the textured sweaters really took off. When Biggie donned the sweaters during performances — and, notably, on the cover of The Source with the Twin Towers behind him — the look exploded in the hip-hop scene.
“Let’s be realistic: Big was a fly dude to be that fat,” Jim Jones told MTV News. “If he was that big and telling us what to go wear, you knew he had a lot of splash to him. Back then, Coogi [sweaters] was like one of the finer things to buy. They were like 300, 400 [dollars] a pop. If you got the special-edition ones, they was running you like 600, 700 — you know, the [ones with the] fruity colors. It was just a thing you needed to have. So when you was running through [New York club] the Tunnel with that bottle of Cris in your hand and a Coogi on, girls is looking at you, like, ’That’s a G right there. What’s in the pockets?’ Big definitely set the standard for splash and swagger when he was coming up.”
MTV News has some B.I.G. things on the horizon surrounding “Notorious” — stay tuned for more this week!