Why Kanye West Is Not in Fashion in the World of Style
- Rapper Kanye West, right, and radio host Sway.
In a major rant at radio host Sway Calloway this week Kanye West went full tilt against the fashion establishment that is preventing him from unleashing his artistry-in-apparel on the world:
“I am Warhol. I am the No. 1 most impactful artist of our generation. I am Shakespeare in the flesh. Walt DisneyDIS +0.52%. NikeNKE -0.06%. GoogleGOOG -0.48%.
Now, who’s going to be the Medici family and stand up and let me create
more? Or do you want to marginalize me til I’m out of my moment?”
Dear Kanye Warhol-Shakespeare-Disney-Google-West,
So you want to be a fashion designer! You actually did launch a
fashion label. A couple of them. There was Pastelle, which you announced
in 2006 and cancelled in 2009 without actually producing it, despite a
lot of teasing.
And there was Kanye West, or DW Kanye West – people were confused
about the name, which come to think of it, might have been a hint there
could be a problem with the branding. You showed that line in Paris.
Everybody who is anybody was excited for you, and all the right people showed up – except for Lindsay Lohan, what was she doing there? – so you had the attention of Anna Wintour and Terry Richardson and Carine Roitfeld, which most young designers would just die for. Chanel Iman walked in your show and Karla Otto did the publicity, so honestly, you had the best opportunity any newbie designer could possibly have.
And it was, it really was, unforgettable. I will never again look at Fred Flintstone
without recalling your fur backpacks for Spring 2012. Your instincts
improved the second season, but the go-karts at your after party were
more memorable than the clothes you showed. And then you walked away in a
huff. None of that dusting yourself off and trying again, letting your
backers – and stores – know you’re in it for the long haul.
Yet for some reason, neither Mark Parker, Francois-Henri Pinault nor Bernard Arnault – the Medicis of fashion today – will hire you to design apparel for Nike, Kering or LVMH.
Let’s see – what could the problem be?
You have 21 Grammys and six consecutive number-one albums. Given who
you are, I imagine that retailers would forgive you the bad design –
there’s plenty of it on store racks every day. But there’s something
that even retailers can’t overlook.
In order to be sold, clothes have to be produced. Regularly. Stores
expect labels to deliver new styles every month to three months, year
round. You said it was a fashion label, not a capsule collection. Didn’t
your pals in fashion, like Ricardo Tisci, Peter Dundas and Olivier
Theyskens, tell you about the “commercial collections” that they don’t
put on their runways – the ones designed by their assistants, which
stores gobble up?
I’m going to let you in on a secret. Fashion designers work through
other people. They glad-hand their investors, build their brands through
public appearances, and inspire design assistants to get the draping
right – in the colors and prints they cooked up in their brains and then
handed off to someone else. All that is pretty much a full time job.
Even Victoria Beckham and the Olsen twins gave up their entertainment careers when they turned to design.
Also, and this is just a little thing – Francois-Henri Pinault might
take it to heart that you called him, in your very entertaining rant
about how he won’t give you the time of day – by his dad’s name,
Francois. Another thing — not all French luxury executives are named
Francois. Mr. Arnault is Bernard. And he’s a stickler for details, so
here’s hoping he doesn’t see your tirade trending on YouTube.
You told Sway that you have lost $13 million a year chasing your
fashion dream. Yet there are rumors that you are at it again, and as
always, perplexingly. Among the evidence were posts on LinkedIn seeking
to hire a head of production and a chief financial officer for a Kanye
West clothing project. The ad refers to your “success in high fashion” –
uhh ohh – and says your brand will “bring accessible style to malls and
other outlets across America and around the world.”
You go, Mr. Warhol-Shakespeare!