Exclusive: A$AP Rocky ‘We were open-minded, we took risks’

The swagged out rapper rewrites the rap gender dialogue and tells us why fashion is art

Fashion Q+A
ASAP 9
Photography by Bibi Cornejo Borthwick

A$AP Rocky flew up on winged Adidas Originals, so it was only a matter of time before he and Jeremy Scott got together to collaborate on a pair. The new trainers are matte, bulletproof mesh in the hallmark black of the A$AP Mob, and pay homage to Rocky's kicks in his Purple Swag video from 2011. Such swift homage speaks for how ready hip-hop and fashion were for Rocky's vision.

He scoured eBay for Jeremy Scott before many of us heard of it, and definitely well before he could afford it.

Though Rocky grew up in Harlem, having access to a (dial up! what up!) Internet connection meant that his influences were disparate. His mind isn't localised; his sound pulls from the South and the West Coast as much as his native New York. And his style is the same kind of beautiful mash-up. He scoured eBay for Jeremy Scott before many of us heard of it, and definitely well before he could afford it. Fashion was a portal to imagine a limitless aesthetic, a platform for originality. It took balls to dress in cheetah print drop crotch pants as a teenage boy in Harlem, now there's a line of at least 300 kids around the block outside the Adidas store on Wooster street, all of whom love a floral print.

ASAP 13
A$AP Rocky Photography by Bibi Cornejo Borthwick

Just yesterday, Alexander Wang's SS14 show unfolded like the wedding of fashion and hip-hop. He peeled the Parental Advisory warning off of Eminem's The Slim Shady LP and pasted it on a sheer sweatshirt.

As it happens, Rocky's come-up coincided with the permeation of sports cuts and gear-oriented clothes in high fashion. And it still continues. Just yesterday, Alexander Wang's SS14 show unfolded like the wedding of fashion and hip-hop. He peeled the Parental Advisory warning off of Eminem's The Slim Shady LP and pasted it on a sheer sweatshirt. Basketball shorts (for laaaadies) are all over the runways, and even editors are trading spiky statement heels in for high-fashion sneakers. Even at night. 

Even from Rocky's 2012 video, "Fuckin' Problems", it was clear he was a style icon. In a fitted white button-up and a navy blue jacket, he looked like the male-version of fall Celine. His look asserts that style is style no matter who you are. Rap's ugliest trope, homophobic lyrics, will likely end with Rocky's generation of artists, because their contemporaries who use fashion as a medium think ahead of society, and, as Rocky says, "They do what they want." 

Dazed Digital: You've said to press before that you don’t have aspirations to be a fashion designer, but after collaborating with Jeremy on these shoes, is it something that you’re thinking about?

A$AP Rocky: I’m always down to collab’, but as far as me becoming a professional designer, I don’t even have the ability or the talent. You’ve got to know how to sketch; you’ve got to know your materials. I wouldn’t disrespect the culture like that. I’m just a consumer and a fan, and that's all there is. I’ve got a couple of cool ideas and that's when I collab’, other than that I’m not a fashion designer.

I’m just a consumer and a fan, and that's all there is.

DD: Jeremy uses a lot of interesting symbolism in his collections; does fashion as a platform for bigger messages have any place in your personal style?

A$AP Rocky: Yeah of course. I think he’s got all those AK47’s and bulletproof sneakers because there’s a lot of haters out there; Jeremy gotta watch out. He’s just preparing himself.

1046211
Photography by Bibi Cornejo Borthwick

DD: Your personal style is quite minimal; you and Jeremy actually have opposite aesthetics. Sitting here now you couldn't be more polar opposite.

A$AP Rocky: That's the beauty of it! 'Cause I get to nit and pick out of what he makes that fits me. Sometimes when I’m picking out stuff, he's like, ‘do you want this?’ I’m like nah. And he’s like, ‘well do you want this?’ I’m like, ‘hell yeah look at that.’ I feel there’s not that many designers who treat their craft like art still; some people are just making clothes. It’s all about fun; when I’m in a good mood and I want to get cosy, I throw Jeremy Scott on.

we were open-minded, we took risks. If you go up town right now, you see people walking around freely in Jeremy Scott.

DD: Do you feel like some of your friends that are designers push you as an individual to take more risks?

A$AP Rocky: Yeah, the Jeremy Scotts. Where I come from in Harlem, you couldn’t get away with wearing it. But we were open-minded, we took risk. If you go up town right now, you see people walking around freely in Jeremy Scott. You wouldn’t have seen that before. People weren’t willing to take the risk.

DD: Why do you think they weren’t?

A$AP Rocky: Because not everybody’s that open minded, we kicked down the door.

DD: What do you think of the more avant-garde and risky fashion designers like Shayne Oliver (of Hood By Air)?  He has a lot of silhouettes that are pretty androgynous, but it's a source of creativity. What do you think about pushing those boundaries? 

A$AP Rocky: I think it’s beautiful for people to do that. I commend people who express themselves through their art. That’s what art is for; it’s an outlet to express yourself. Life is art.

JEREMY SCOTT X ASAP - Feb 2012-1
A$AP ROCKY on the cover of Dazed & Confused, February 2012 Photography by Ari Marcopolous

See all our latest features, interviews, and show reports from SS15, as it happens

More Fashion Week