by George Wolf
“Being fresh is more important than having money.”
That might be easy for the far-from-broke Kanye West to say, but when he says it near the start of Fresh Dressed, it serves as a modern law of physics that director Sacha Jenkins is eager to reinforce.
His effortlessly likable documentary traces the history of hip hop fashion, not only spotlighting the breezy fun of kids expressing themselves, but also pointing out the social and economic struggles that parallel each generational shift.
Let’s face it, it’s always fun to look back on style trends of years past, but Fresh Dressed has a more serious aim. From the slave-owning origins of the phrase “your Sunday best” to street gang affiliations to corporate boardrooms, Jenkins shows how fashion can be as effective as music in giving voice to those longing to find one.
To that end, Jenkins mixes historical footage with interview segments featuring icons of both sound (Pharrell, Nas) and style (Draymond John, Karl Kani), though it isn’t long before you notice how few women are providing a viewpoint. Surely, women experienced these cultural changes in different ways, and the film would benefit from a more balanced perspective.
Really, a similar lack of depth becomes the main shortcoming of Fresh Dressed. It quickly gets your attention with solid execution and topics that seem long overdue, but then seems satisfied with merely starting conversations, not seeing how far they might go.