The Chicago MC, the self-esteemed “slave to fashion” first set foot onto the rap ground back in 2002. Spanning his career of many albums, sharp with his own taste, KanyeWest was never like his fellow rappers. He would prance around in Ralph Lauren polo bears, rugby shirts and Louis Vuitton backpacks while his peers flocked in tall tees, roomy jeans and oversized jerseys. Years after he’s changed the game in more ways than you realize.
Remember when everybody had a pair of shutter shades?
For a little back story before we establish our case, when rap big daddies found it unlikely to bet money on a guy who looked like a plush wonk, it was Dame Dash and Jay Z of Roc-A-Fella records that gave Ye a record deal. “No one would give me a deal, “West had said during a performance at Webster Hall. “Maybe it’s because of what I had on… I guess they judged a book by its cover.” Ye challenged the standards of hip-hop.
West’s The College Droupout, his debut album, hit hard at changing the mold of what a hip-hop artist has to be like. He took an unprecedented stance of communicating to the listeners with the persona of a regular person. This is exactly the soul young artists have somewhere truly adopted. Hip-hop is a connect. And in it’s essence breathes street-wear. And what’s hot about the climate right now? Catwalk’s affair with street style.
Shattering the matrix of gangsta rap on behalf of some more ‘self-aware’ type of ‘balling’, and not just that, Kanye has given fashion some of its most dramatic shakeups. West’s impact on menswear has been rather massive. While many of you may know Kanye just as a guy spitting flows, his career with fashion has been as long and involved as his days in music. West is not the first but the most powerful of those moguls who cheerfully abandoned gender norms for their high affinity with fashion. Elsewhere, birthing young artists like A$AP ROCKY and YOUNG THUG. “90 percent of my clothes are women’s,” admits Thugga.
Back in 2014, Kanye stood tall, mid performance at London’s Wireless festival and denounced the fashion industry for discriminating against him for being famous and black. “Cause you know damn well there aren’t no black guys or celebrities making no Louis Vuitton or nothing.” Less than four years later, the waves of West’s influence could be felt on the fashion climate. We witnessed his friend and collaborator Virgil Abloh being appointed men’s artistic director of Louis Vuitton. A black American from Illinois with almost no fashion training, resting atop LVMH’s top-selling brand, is a rewarding example for Kanye and the ability of streetwear.
With fashion folks like Riccardo Tisci, Anna Wintour and Phoebe Philo, on his speed dial, Kim K’s hubby has contorted into a credible fashion icon. The man is a visionary, a wizard with the magic to change the way people dress – it’s his creative expression, the hype the man is able to create, that aids him.
Today, if you’re able to pass five blocks away without spotting 10 Yeezy lookalikes, you on the wrong planet. From what began in 2015 as an unfashionable swell of ‘activewear’, Kanye made sure the movement took a luxurious turn of ‘streetwear’ fashion.