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Jaden Smith — autumn/winter 2018
Jaden wears all clothes Jaden Smith + G-Star RAW Forces of Nature, accessories his ownPhotography Benedict Brink, styling Emma Wyman

Jaden Smith: eyes on the earth

Jaden Smith — autumn/winter 2018

As he launches consciousness-raising new clothing line ‘Forces of Nature’ with G-Star RAW, the Skate Kitchen star talks extreme thrills and harnessing the power of the planet

Taken from the autumn/winter 2018 issue of Dazed. You can buy a copy of our latest issue here.

“People get so lost in the world. They are not in touch with everything they really are,” says Jaden Smith. We’re in New York, the 20-year-old’s adoptive city. It’s here where he filmed this summer’s Skate Kitchen, in which he appears as a skater who assimilates into an all-female skate crew – the only real actor in a group of newcomers. He also just released a new record, SYRE: The Electric Album, the first to be released in its entirety on Instagram. But speaking today, they all appear to be chapters within a bigger plan: to disappear into nature.

Smith was 11 when he had his first big idea to save the planet: designing a sustainable water bottle. Back then, he quietly created JUST Water with his father, which bottles and distributes spring water in a low-impact way, all while acting in a reboot of The Karate Kid and After Earth. Now, nine years later, he has used this same approach to design a sustainable clothing line, linking up with G-Star RAW on clothes that take their design cues straight from the power of the planet as he sees it: extreme sandstorms and waterfalls might line the items, but the technology that dyes the blue denim requires 70 per cent less chemicals, meaning less risk for people and the environment. Wherever he flexes his muscle, Smith’s fans follow – but what they might not know is that soon he could be planning to go live in a forest and record his next album. As he would say: “super intense.”

Why do you like nature?

Jaden Smith: People think that we’re separate from nature, but we’re really still part of it. So I want to remind people that you need to go outside, that you need to experience real nature – because that’s where we really come from.

But how do we get back to nature without completely ditching the societal constructs that we’re following?

Jaden Smith: We need to have the societal constructs and evolve them, and also build structures that are indoor-outdoor and coincide with nature. Like, we can rebuild New York City to have not so much concrete. You could feel the ground more and the dirt. It’s just different ways of building in different styles of architecture – moving to the future.

Your new collection has three insane prints. What’s the inspiration behind these?

Jaden Smith: It’s mostly just nature and old hunting shirts. It’s like, the hunting glasses with the hunting shirts and the camo, and hunting prints. It’s a vibe that people have been on for a while, so I really wanted (my collection) to be another landmark in that genre of clothing.

Did your dad have a stash of that kind of stuff in his closet?

Jaden Smith: Not my dad, but definitely my friends’ grandpas, my friends’ dads. Or kids that tread around New York. They are dressed head to toe like a fuckin’ hunter. There’s something that is so fashionable (about it) – they are totally in another space.

How did the design process work?
I was working with the creative directors at G-Star RAW to look for things that we both could relate to. What I did design is the way that the pants are sewn together, the raw edge. When I actually sewed pants at G-Star, that’s how they came out. Then we took those pants and we made a blended vision between what I would do and what worked with G-Star.

What does sustainability mean to you?

Jaden Smith: It’s us being able to sustain a healthy world. Or to create a healthy world for (ourselves) before we can sustain it, because if we sustain what we have right now... that’s exactly what we’re not trying to do.

So how does that process of sustainability figure into the 'Forces of Nature' collection?

Jaden Smith: The way that the different denims are processed and dyed. Like, they have created a new indigo denim and a new type of dye presenting zero risk for people and the environment.

What is the craziest experience you’ve ever had in nature?

Jaden Smith: Snowboarding is really, really intense. Sometimes you feel like you catch so much air, you go so fast, you’re just zooming down the hill – that’s pretty intense. Or like, almost dying on a surfboard in the ocean. I was in Hawaii for my birthday, just surfing super-big waves. That’s just really intense, especially when there are other people out there. I like paddling in the ocean. Super intense.

“I want to remind people that you need to go outside, that you need to experience real nature – because that’s where we really come from” — Jaden Smith

And the most spectacular place you’ve been?

Jaden Smith: Probably Hawaii or the mountains in China. Or Utah is really crazy, too. Even Italy. They’re all really, really, really beautiful. You’re like, kicking it with nature. I could walk a little bit and jump down right there and then I could be trapped in the middle of the wilderness. Or I could just spring in this direction and then if I looked around, I would see nothing. I would see no humans. I would only see nature.

What’s stopping you from disappearing into nature? Does that appeal to you?

Jaden Smith: For sure. Actually, nothing is stopping me from (doing) that. I’m just working my way up to that. I could be making albums from the forest.

Do you paint?

Jaden Smith: Yeah. It’s just like a bunch of words, all different types. I’m gonna do an art show. I have a really big painting in my room (where) I pretty much wrote down how I felt every day for a year on a huge canvas. So now it just looks like I’ve been trapped in my room for my whole life and I’ve only ever written on this one painting. It looks like someone got trapped in their room and went crazy.

Like that Jim Carrey movie.

Jaden Smith: It pretty much looks like that, The Number 23. I wrote “flex” on it somewhere. I’m gonna start selling my paintings. I already have. Everybody who buys my paintings, they never tell anyone. They never post about it.

Who owns your paintings?

Jaden Smith: I don’t know – seven people, but I have never met them.

Who influences your sense of style?

Jaden Smith: Honestly, (A$AP) Rocky and Tyler, the Creator. I usually go wild and say Poseidon and Sigmund Freud and shit but I’m gonna say Rocky and Tyler, the Creator. Tyler has definitely done a lot of things before everyone else. Even now. Everybody wants to wear pearls now, and his chains look like leaves. He’s crazy.

But you’ve also famously championed gender-neutral dressing.
People freaked out so many times. I was always like, (I’ll) do something and let people respond. It’s like, I’m gonna wait for another few years so people can get over it and then I can do something like that again. It’s just trying to show people the right direction, ‘cause everybody lives in a cage. It’s not about me. I’m just trying to help other people out, like, ‘Just so you know, you could do this too. This is available to you.’

When have people called you out for what you’ve worn?
Every day. Every day I’m wearing something and somebody is like, ‘Oh my goodness, the shoes are too big,’ or something. That’s why I don’t post on Instagram because I don’t have time to read all these comments to understand what everybody feels. People know so much more about what people think they know about me, than I do.

Have you ever reached out to anybody famous, just to meet someone?

Jaden Smith: Well, I’d hit up Chris Pratt and be like, “I have a genius idea for me and you.” And then he’d be like, “Ah, what is it?” and then I’d be like, “Damn, I never thought that Chris Pratt would respond.” So I’d have to think of shit.

Did that actually happen with Chris?

Jaden Smith: Yeah. I still have to think of something to tell him. I have to tell him that I never thought Chris Pratt would respond. Freaking love Chris Pratt.

What are you most excited about right now?

Jaden Smith: I’m on tour with J Cole. I just announced it yesterday. And this collection comes out in October, so I’m really excited for that. I think a lot of my fans are going to be really happy that they can get it. 

Skate Kitchen is out in UK cinemas now. Syre: The Electric Album is out now too. Jaden Smith + G-Star RAW Forces of Nature collection is also out now.