“Fashion killed rock and roll. Fashion killed contemporary art, and turned it vulgar. And if hip-hop artists are not careful it will also kill hip-hop.”
– Jean Touitou, Founder of A.P.C. (via Style.com)
Gianni Versace is rolling over in his grave. Not only was the legendary designer murdered, but his brand is slowly as well. The cause of death; rappers. I initially wanted to write this article six months ago when Givenchy, Balmain, and Alexander Wang were the victims, but now is the right time. With luxury rap at an all time high, at what point do consumers stop feeding into the garbage coming from their speakers and remain practical? (Do you really need an $120 white tee from the Kanye West x A.P.C. collection? Absolutely not.) First, more than half of the rappers who rap about these luxury goods can’t really afford them. Second, you all look stupid! Kilts, capes, and long shirts that look like dresses? I’ll pass…
“I made Jesus Walks, so I’m never going to hell
Couture level flow is never going on sale
Luxury rap, the Hermes of verses
Sophisticated ignorance, write my curses in cursive”
– Kanye West (“Otis“)
Whether it is considered high fashion or not, it looks ridiculous on most. Although trends are meant to be set, they don’t always have to be followed. Enter Migos; if you aren’t familiar with the Atlanta-based trio, allow me the honor of introducing you. Quavo, Offset (currently incarcerated), and TakeOff have been buzzing the streets and Internet with their latest mixtape, YRN, filled with nursery rhymes and catchy choruses. One of the songs from mixtape, titled Versace, took off and sprung the attention of Drake, who later added his own verse. The simplicity of the hook, not only has everyone singing it, but scrambling for every last nickel in their piggy banks to afford the brands clothes. For example, at the 2013 BET Awards in June, DJ Drama, J. Cole, and Brandon T. Jackson all showed up in the same sweater. Not only was this embarrassing for all three, but the Migos Halloween costume officially indicated that hip-hop has killed the brand.
“Versace, Versace, Versace, Versace
Versace, Versace, Versace, Versace
Versace, Versace Versace, Versace Versace
Versace, Versace Versace, Versace Versace”
– Migos (“Versace”)
With respect to the BET Awards wardrobe incident, Complex author James Harris said it best, “If anything, this serves as a very public reminder that style is not achieved by simply copping an expensive and/or rare piece and throwing it on. Creating a representation of your personal sense of style and aesthetic takes much more than that, and should be much more about attitude and perspective than price tag and brand name.” Therefore, let’s leave the styling to Kanye and A$AP Rocky who actually collaborate with designers like A.P.C., Givenchy, and Raf Simmons and appreciate the way the clothes are made.
“I rather buy 80 gold chains and go ign’ant
I know Spike Lee gone kill me but let me finish
Blame it on the pigment, we living no limits
Them gold Master P ceilings was just a figment”
– Kanye West (“Clique”)
Of course the ultimate goal in hip-hop is to make money and live comfortably – the American dream – but there’s a right and a wrong way to do this. In the latest episode of Complex TV’s The Combat Jack Show, Yonkers MC Styles P was asked what the, “dumbest rapper shit he’s ever done” was. His response; “waste money.” He continued by saying, “Living by hip-hop standards is the stupidest fucking thing you can do.” With that being said, don’t be surprised if you see the veteran rapper riding the Metro North rather than walking the streets of SoHo! It’s always good to see a artist with longevity realize the importance of good credit and paying taxes rather than trying to maintain a high fashion wardrobe.
I’ll leave you with this riddle – a white rapper from Seattle, WA named Macklemore walks into a thrift shop with only $20 in his pocket. 4 minutes later, he comes out with three platinum singles and almost 900,000 copies of his album sold independently. On the other side of the United States, an Atlanta rapper named Ca$h Out buys a condo for his wrist and signs with LA Reid’s Epic Records, but most likely can no longer afford the condo he lives in and a debut album nowhere in sight. Oh yeah, don’t be surprised if Trinidad James is in a Cash4Gold commercial in the near future!
Update: After doing a little research, I have found some more interesting statistics on this topic. Last week, I visited the Versace store in SoHo, NYC and spoke with a salesman. After telling about my article, we began to discuss sales, and the overall business of the company. He told me that he is surprised how a predominately gay fashion line has completely crossed-over into the hip-hop culture. Furthermore, he said that all mens shoes and clothes are constantly sold out in the New York and Atlanta stores and the demand is hard to keep up with. On the other hand, sales in the women’s department aren’t as strong. As you can see from the pictures, Versace is a supporter of The Notorious B.I.G., as well as The Christopher Wallace Foundation. In fact, they even sell the glasses and jewelry he commonly wore supporting the brand. Fascinating stuff.