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Who Brought Back the Bucket Hat?

Rick Ross in his bucket

Louis Vuitton showed a fisherman’s cap in matte leather for their men’s S/S 2013 show this week, but it was surely a bucket hat by any other name. Slick and structured, it’s a couture capper on a trend that’s had a bright and sometimes tumultuous life in hip-hop — but with rappers’ lust for Louis, there’s no doubt Kanye’s skull will be topped with one tout de suite. While Vuitton’s intent for the show was to celebrate life at sea, encompassing skintight neoprene surf suits as well as Deadliest Catch-type trenchcoats, the first thought that came to mind was LL Cool J, whose reputation as a panther would not have been so impactful without the Kangol bucket he popularized among hip-hoppers in the ’80s and ’90s.

Of course, tell that to Earl Sweatshirt, who tweeted on June 3, “Me sagan left brain n juan Take credit for bucket hats.” He was referring to some Odd Future members’ predilection for the style, which has experienced a renaissance this year. (On June 12, Sweatshirt admitted his style choices also bled into his dating life, tweeting, “Nobody really fucking with me and my gf his/her bucket game really.”) It’s plain to see why the young rapper thinks he’s the originator — since Sweatshirt was photographed for the New York Times wearing a bucket hat in April, street sightings have increased exponentially, at least in New York City. But then, Sweatshirt might have a little competition as a tastemaker: On June 20, Schoolboy Q, fellow L.A. rapper and bucket hat fan, tweeted, “EverywHere I go niggaHz wanna wear a bucket Hat now, I ain’t sayin I brougHt em back but I see a lot lately lol.” An earlier adopter still may have been rapper Tyga: his video for “Still Got It” dropped in May, his concept was throwback ’90s styles, and his bucket hat was Fendi. The same month, sugar bear Rick Ross copped a crispy Polo bucket for the “Ashes to Ashes” video, amplifying the song’s beachside sway. And what of French Montana, who was wearing buckets three years ago? And of Cam’ron before him? What of Jay-Z, whose early-oughties bucket love was such that he immortalized them on The Blueprint (“bucket low, like fuck it, though”) and the classic, “Izod bucket on, I’m so old school”? Would he wear one once more, if it were leather and Louis? “Bucket hats,” goes a thread on the kanyetothe forum, “are going to be big this summer.”

And yet with the Internet’s memory gap, it might be easy to forget that the accessory was also once so maligned that in 2005 and 2006, when JV G-Unit rapper Tony Yayo emerged as a bucket hat enthusiast in an era after the trend had grown stale, it became a running gag for Nick Sylvester’s Village Voice column. Then again, yesterday I saw a sullen white teenager on the street wearing a Golf Wang T-shirt and a neon ’90s pacifier around her neck, reminding me of the bucket hat’s popularity among ravers and the Madchester scene. Even the Stone Roses resurrected it, a staple of their merch, for their recent reunion concerts in England. Fashion as cycle: the maxim never disappoints.