Dope Found Its '90s Fashion Inspo In The Least Likely Place

We all have those friends who just know their way around a thrift shop. They're our style inspo as adults, but in high school, chances are they went through some awkward growing pains. And, it's those growing pains that are on full display in the summer comedy Dope.

The movie is a '90s explosion, but it's actually set in the present day, following around three outcasts as they take on their senior year at Inglewood High School. With a cast of some breakouts (Kiersey Clemons, Shameik Moore) and a few familiar faces (Zoë Kravitz, A$AP Rocky), the L.A. centric film is smart and funny with some major style moments — thanks to costume designer Patrik Milani.

Through the power of Instagram and eBay, Milani was able to dress the diverse cast in truly unique, standout looks. We tapped the Italian designer for some pro tips on how to snag a perfect vintage piece and what '90s trends are worth revisiting. Check out our conversation below, and scope all the styles when Dope hits theaters June 19.
Photo credit: Rachel Morrison/Open Road Films
Tony Revolori (Jib), Kiersey Clemons (Diggy), and Shameik Moore (Malcolm).
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You clearly got in touch with what kids wear these days and how they blend different decades. Where did you go for inspiration?

"Social media. I love Instagram. I have a little addiction! I was like, What am I going to do, hang out at high schools and see what people dress like? So, I just put in #InglewoodHigh, and from there it opened up this whole world of these young kids and how they dress. They are just so creative! And, like at any high school, there are geeks and athletes — I started following everyone that had great style."

You had to update a lot of throwback outfits. What’s your best advice for updating a look or mixing trends from different decades?
"It's about picking the right trends, like the brand Cross Colours or an oversized fit. I love that oversized look — it’s a shame, on kids it looks so great. And, Aaliyah was a huge inspiration for me, for Kiersey’s character (left) especially."
Photo credit: Rachel Morrison/Open Road Films
Kiersey Clemons (Diggy).
Were there any '90s looks that you just couldn’t do?
"I knew I couldn’t revisit MC Hammer. I mean, it was scripted, but also, I just didn’t love that look, so I stayed away from it on purpose."

What trends were the most fun to revisit?
"What I tried to do with the kids, since they’re always on screen together, is approach them in a general way. So, I said okay, Kiersey (Diggy) is Aaliyah, Tony Revolori (Jib) is N.W.A. or Run—D.M.C., and Shameik (Malcolm) is more late '80s with the colors and the patterns but mixed with a classic American look. I ended up using a lot of Tommy Hilfiger and Polo."

And, Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) was inspired by Aaliyah?
"I wanted to have Diggy be feminine. That’s why Aaliyah came to mind. She was very sexy and very feminine, but she wore men’s and oversized clothes."
Photo credit: Rachel Morrison/Open Road Films
A$AP Rocky (Dom).
A$AP Rocky (above) is known for his fashion prowess. Did he have a lot of input when it came to the look of his character, Dom, or did he just go with the flow?
"No, he did. And, I loved hearing his input. To be honest, I thought, Oh, he’s huge, so he’s going to be a nightmare. He loves clothes so much, he’s not going to want to do his character. But, it went so well, and he was so mature and so smart and so professional. He’s just bright, you know? He gets it."

We all have our favorite TBT moments. What was your favorite '90s fashion moment?
"This wasn’t my '90s. Mine was completely different: a rejection of the bright and opulent '80s. So, it was Helmut Lang, and back to basics, and everything was beige. But, for these kids, they didn’t have the opulence, so I grabbed for more mainstream culture."
Photo credit: Rachel Morrison/Open Road Films
Kiersey Clemons (Diggy), Shameik Moore (Malcolm), and Tony Revolori (Jib).
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You had to source a lot of vintage gear for this movie. Can you give us any tips?
"It's not about how much you spend. eBay is a great thing, but thrift stores, too. There’s a store in Sun Valley where I got a poncho for one of the characters for $3. I mean, $3 in Sun Valley! I think if you have a good eye, you don’t have to spend a lot of money."