What Is the Origin of Sagging Pants?

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The specific rationale for wearing saggy pants is still debated by historians, although there is a consensus that the trend began during the late 1980s in prisons, particularly in the Los Angeles area. There are several theories as to why prisoners began to wear their pants low, including that they were instructed to wear shapeless, baggy outfits while serving time in prison and continued to emulate that style following their release back into public life.

While wearing saggy pants may have originated as a type of dress among prisoners, the look was soon adopted by youth, including many gangs. The saggy pants look was also adopted as a signature style of dress among teens and young men who identified with the hip-hop and rap cultures. Saggy pants, like many other fashion trends adopted by teens, have been ill-received by older members of the public. In some places, including towns in New Jersey and Florida, local politicians passed laws prohibiting young men from wearing low-hanging pants in public places. Although the look has received criticism by some, it is considered one of the iconic fashion trends in the history of American youth and continues to be embraced by young men.