Even before the SS Minnow, the bucket hat was a common fashion accessories for women and was a part of the mod fashion movement. At the same time, across the ocean during the Vietnam War, it is said that soldiers used it as a way to shade themselves from the sun. But somewhere between there and the end of the disco error, things switched and the wearers of these hats moved from well to do/rich white women to inner city, urban occupants with a story to tell.
Perhaps the bucket hat really took off in the black community when JJ Walker from Good Times sported the hat (coupled with his charisma and cool) making it a go to for hard working, fun having brothers in the hood who were just “keeping their heads above water.”
Gaining a lot of exposure during the late 1970’s and really picking up steam in the 1980’s with people like LL Cool J, the Fat boys and Run DMC making it a signature piece of their wardrobe, it became a staple in the hip hop and rap community that has never really cooled off.
Yes it is true that it may have become “unpopular” in the mainstream fashion world, but it was very much alive in the underground hip hop community. It transitioned from kids wearing it as way to express themselves on the turntables and microphone spitting lyrics in rap battles, to dads wearing in on summer vacation with family. Some may argue that bucket hats being embraced by the American public was one of hip hop’s first major influences on people who thought so little of the “fad” music genre. Furthermore, it just speaks to the awesomeness and versatility it possesses.