The High Top Fade (or Hi Top Fade) is an 80s classic hairstyle that was particularly popular amongst African Americans. It involved shaving the side and back of your heads real low and combining it with a modified afro puff that reached to the sky (the higher the better)!
High Top Fade In The 80s
Although not as popular with the masses as the Jerry Curl, the high top fade could still be found everywhere. While it was easier to create, the Jheri Curl wasn’t all that easy to maintain, because the upkeep required chemicals to achieve that trademark shiny look.
After a while, most black guys didn’t want to bother with the mess. They wanted to be different, but they wanted something easier to maintain. Thus came the High Top (or Hi-Top) Fade.
The High Top Fade
This is a variation of the regular flattop, in which the hair on the sides and the back of the head was cut off or shaved while the hair on top of the head grew out.
By 1986, just about every black guy was sporting the look, spurred on by its popularity among popular rappers and in the NBA, where an increasing majority of the players were black.
Famous High Top Fades
Among rappers, the look was promoted by the rap group Kid ‘n Play and a young Will Smith, along with a tough Queen Latifah and the androgynous Grace Jones.
Will Smith Rockin The High Top Fade
The popularity of the look in the NBA was inevitable, given the percentage of African Americans in the league. (In contrast, the NFL and MLB had about the same number of white and black guys, and NHL was almost completely filled by white guys.)
The High Top Fade also added several inches to a person’s height, and in the NBA trying to look taller was a trend that never went out of style. People regularly padded official height measurements, and the hi-top fade made players seem taller.
Among the most famous NBA players who sported the hairstyle included:
1. Patrick Ewing
The team never won a championship because of Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, but Patrick Ewing nevertheless is slated for the Hall of Fame. He’s 7 feet tall and was the most dominant center in the Eastern Conference, and his high top fade made him even more intimidating in the paint.
Patrick Ewing’s High Top Fade
2. Kenny “Sky” Walker
The guy once beat Spud Webb and Clyde “the Glide” Drexler for the 1989 Dunking Championship, so he deserved a few inches more for his alleged height.
Kenny “Sky” Walker Rockin The High Top Fade
3. Scottie Pippen
Playing Robin to Michael Jordan’s Batman, he was underrated during his long career. Still, most experts peg him as one of the 50 best NBA players of all time.
Scottie Pippen Rockin A “Mohawk” Version Of The High Top Fade
4. Robert Horry
“Big Shot Bob” sported a high top fade early in his career. It may have helped his game, since he is the only NBA player to earn 7 championship rings with 3 different teams. (John Salley was also a member of 3 different championship teams, but he only has 4 rings).
Robert Horry’s High Top Fade
Is The High Top Fade Still Popular?
Though the high top fade is not as popular as it once was in the 80s, the look has never really died out.
You can see the hairstyle on current NBA player Iman Shumpert of the Cavs, who started wearing a high top fade two years ago when he was still a Knicks player.
One nephew of President Obama also wears the hairstyle, and it’s still shown on TV in the series Empire. Though not as often seen as it was decades ago, there is still a loyal contemporary following of the hairstyle.
Though the high top fade is not as prevalent today as it once was, we still remember it as one of the cooler hairstyles of the 1980s.