Six years after releasing his debut album My World, and the universe still hasn’t found a remedy for Bieber Fever. Since emerging onto the scene at the tender age of 15, the baby-faced Canadian has managed to conquer the charts with countless hits, scoop up dozens of accolades and accrue one of the most devoted legions of diehard fans – aka the notorious “Beliebers” – unmatched by any other contemporary pop artist (besides Lady Gaga’s “Little Monsters”).
While we’ve witnessed Bieber’s growing pains undergo Disney-grade teen dream status to DUI-collecting delinquent, the substantial development of JB’s personal style certainly deserves its own shout; over the years, we’ve seen the Biebs transform from purple hoodie-wearing mall kid to swagged-out streetwear maestro.
While we session his fourth studio album Purpose on repeat, we decided to look back at the evolution of Bieber’s style throughout his career. From the middle school mishaps to the tastefully trendy, seeing how Justin Bieber’s style has developed has been nothing if not entertaining – and he certainly shows no sign of slowing down. But then again, never say never.
Mall Kid Who Still Shops With His Mom (2009)
Otherwise known as the “purple hoodie” stage. Sporting a butch-style sweep-cut and looking like he just copped everything from a Zumiez clearance rack, the Biebs was all about that teen-zine mall swag during his early years. Plaid button-ups over unicolored (but sometimes striped) T-shirts and skinny jeans were the usual getup du jour, but other times you could see JB rocking (one of his many) pairs of garishly bright Supra kicks as well as a range of non-Canadian baseball team caps.
But there’s one sartorial staple that defined this stage in the “Baby” singer’s style: hoodies. Purple ones, to be exact. In fact, if I could tap into my synesthetic senses, without even listening to his music, purple would be the de facto color tagged to this era of Bieber’s fame. “One Less Lonely Girl”? Purple. “Favorite Girl?” Purple. “Baby”? Still purple.
I’m Not a Boy, Not Yet a Man (2010)
As his voice began to leap over the hurdles of puberty, JB’s style went along for ride. The purple hoodie still made a cameo from time to time, but with Bieber’s burgeoning fame came a slightly more conscious attitude when it came to selecting his outfits. Melding “Kids Choice Awards”-ready looks with high-street sensibilities and pieces you’d probably find in Usher’s closet, the Biebs found a newfound love for vests, black leather jackets and thick-rimmed glasses. He still flaunted his love of Supras though.
Short Hair, Don’t Care (2011)
A drastic change in hairstyle makes a loud statement in the entertainment industry. So you can only imagine the heartache the millions of Beliebers must’ve felt once JB decided to shave up his signature sweep-cut crown…and he didn’t stop there. Sure he still wore the old snapback from time to time (even sometimes flipping it backwards), but with Bieber’s more mature look came the embrace of a more dapper range of headwear – fedoras, in particular – as well as blazers, ties and designer varsity jackets – shouting out that über rare Junya Watanabe Nordic Varsity Jacket he once wore on The Today Show.
Am I Gangsta Yet? (2012)
We’re all aware that Bieber likes to schmooze it up with a bevy of famous rappers. But while the influence can certainly reflect in the singer’s diction, 2012 pretty much solidified his b-boy swag. Gold chains and watches, MC Hammer-style drop crotch joggers, oversized white T-shirts and denim vests a la Kanye-style were all on frequent rotation whenever Bieber was papped on the streets.
Street Goth Biebs (2013)
The glorious year when streetwear forged an unassuming love affair with gothic fashion. Purveyed by everyone from fashion week street style regulars to the most prominent emcees in the hip-hop game, the look eventually ninja crept its way into the Biebs’ wardrobe too. But the Canadian didn’t just stop at monochromatic colors, Skingraft leather trousers, Rick Owens trainers and En Noir leather tops. Proving that he’s just as “street” as his rapper posse, Bieber was occasionally spotted (in public) wearing a series of menacing facial guises such as gas masks, a skeleton-printed bandana and a Chanel ski mask.
Good Biebs Gone Bad (2014)
JB’s PR team certainly had their work cut out for them this year; in fact, 2014 was really doomed from the start. Just a few weeks after being accused of vandalism in January by throwing eggs at his neighbor’s house, the singer was arrested in Miami Beach on suspicion of driving under the influence with an over six-month expired license and resisting arrest without violence. But this was just the tip of the iceberg for the pop star. Between a 270,000 person-signed U.S. deportation petition, more reckless driving charges, constant plea bargaining and viral racist videos, it seems that the world (aka rabidly hormonal teenage girls) had officially lost the baby-faced teen dream they once knew and loved.
In terms of style, the Biebs continued to adhere to sartorial tropes featured in various top-tier style doctrines; bandanas, bucket hats and distressed denim were frequently spotted on the singer that year. So while his newfound “bad boy” antics didn’t garner many popularity brownie points, at least JB kept his swag in tact.
Hype Machine (2015)
Welcoming the year with a highly publicized Calvin Klein campaign, the Biebs decided (or was most likely advised) to wipe his slate clean for 2015. Between voicing Jack Ü’s infectious EDM summer anthem “Where Are Ü Now,” offering mea culpas with his fans by shedding impromptu waterworks at the VMAs and gearing up for his highly anticipated album Purpose, JB’s road to PR recovery has proven quite lucrative.
Aside from a peroxide dye job, his style didn’t sway too far from the year prior; except I think it’s safe to ratify the singer’s full-fledged hype machine steez – just see the video for “I’ll Show You” for reference (those adidas YEEZY Boost 350s and OFF-WHITE hoodies certainly didn’t slip past our eyes).