Kanye West is currently making press rounds in promotion of his divisive album, Jesus is King. And between carpool karaoke in a plane and having to deal with Kanye literally preaching to his fan base, it’s getting to be as exhausting as you’d expect a modern Kanye press cycle to be.
Which is what makes his recent sit-down with GQ so fascinating. In celebration of the release of GQ’s creative-director-at-large and longtime Kanye associate Jim Moore’s new book, Hunks and Heroes: Four Decades of Fashion at GQ, the pair sat down in Chicago in front of a live audience for a sprawling interview that delved into the careers of both icons. While the conversation was meant to revolve around Moore’s contribution to men’s fashion, because it was an interview with arguably the century’s most important rapper, it leans heavy on the Kanye commentary.
Kanye is with a friend here, which is nice. The two swap stories about everything from Kanye’s earliest forays into fashion, to the Fear of God fashion label, and Virgil Abloh. There are no controversial statements, no obvious hypocrisies, or weird political endorsements — just Ye, talking about subjects he’s passionate about. It’s a little bittersweet but it’s a nice reminder that recent creative slump aside, Kanye is still one of the most interesting artists of our time.
Check out the full interview here, or read up on some quick highlights if you don’t have the patience to check out a full Kanye interview in 2019.
On Ralph Lauren Inspiring Kanye’s College Trilogy
“That’s the kid with the pink Polos. We were talking about Polos. We weren’t talking about Izod or Lacoste…. This was the closest we could get to New York city inside of Chicago. Every time we’d come downtown we got to visit the Polo mansion. Even if we couldn’t afford anything.”
On Dressing For Your Mood
“Outfits make a statement… The outfit tells your story. It tells your personality and your character. They’re times where I’ll say, ‘I don’t feel Ye.’ Even when I’m putting these pants on for Sunday Service.”
On Whether the Suit and Tie is Dead
“When we wear chains that are close to our neck, that’s like a tie…. People are always going to want something tailored. We are attracted to tailoring, and tailoring promotes the attributes and it’s also forgiving. A suit can really help out… Stylish people, no matter what size they are, are going to pull it off and express that.
On Falling For Fashion
“I rediscovered fashion through the mall, like Girbauds and Chalk Line and Starter. And then I discovered, you know, Polo, going to see my dad and in Takoma Park, Maryland and people would be wearing, like, Polos with Jordans.”
Who Leads The Fashion Conversation Today
There was a lot of discrimination that we dealt with when we’d go to the shows like 10 years ago and everyone thought that, you know, fashion only came from Paris, when it came from right here in America… America pretty much runs it, because we are leading the conversation of culture.”
On Kanye’s Passion for Fashion
“People used to look at me as like, Oh he’s just this rapper when we would be out in Paris. But I’ve loved being in this community of people who appreciated the art, the suffering, the pain…. When I was in the hospital, there were times where I’d wake up in the morning and I’d go to the office against all corporate odds just for McQueen. There would be days where I’d say, I’m doing this for McQueen right now. I am still living. Because he was killed by the corporations…
The artists and the spirit, the true people who grew up on texture, that had to get up out of a small town and go to a Company Limited to eventually become the creative director of GQ, are the leaders of the conversation. It’s not how quick something goes. It’s not how quick it can be copied. It’s not how much it can be doubled, tripled, ten-xed on the stock market and what the market cap is. It’s the people here who have had their hearts broken because their mama couldn’t afford that jacket that they had to have. [The ones who] at the moment say, ‘We’re going to dedicate our life to this.'”