An Opportunity Missed: Kanye x APC
On Friday or Saturday night, I can’t remember exactly, they were both bourbon soaked evenings where I had little care for the goings on in the City of Lights, images of the latest Kanye West x A.P.C collection began to be disseminated on twitter. On first glance, I liked it. Even with a bleary eyed second glance the following morning, it seemed solid, interesting, if a little disjointed. I was actually pleased for him; he’d produced a capsule collection which would go a long way to silence the doubters. And this feeling didn’t come from being a huge Kanye-stan, rather a growing weariness to the circus of press, hype and commentators which surround all of his fashion endeavours. It gets tiresome and generally detracts from some fairly nice clothes, I thought.
That would have probably have been the end of this matter. I would have paid it no mind and I certainly wouldn’t be sitting here writing a post on his latest collection and feeding into the media circus I bemoaned only two sentences ago. But here I am.
The frenzy which surrounds Mr Wests sartorial exploits is one which has been fuelled by himself due to a perceived marginalisation of his creative ambitions by the industry that he loves. 2013 was the year of Kanye, in his words, deciding to “turn up” on every radio station across the US. He was, after all, “culture” and people would listen, albeit not knowing exactly who this Bernard Arnault character was that he kept referring to. Some even had the audacity to question why a man with a personal wealth in excess of $100 000 000 couldn’t start his own label without the large-scale investors he was publicly courting, or begging, depending on how you look at it. Those people didn’t get it either, they didn’t have the answers. We were not only dealing with the new-age Rock Stars here, but Ringo Starr and George Harrison had been ousted to make way for DONDA; an all-singing, all-dancing creative agency who were definitely the most creative people in the world, ever. Eventually, Kanye got his adidas deal and Jean Touitou of APC confirmed that there would be further instalments of their collaboration with the Chicago-native. Those who still gave a fuck were in for a treat.
I liked the first Kanye x APC collab; not enough to buy anything but it was cool. Despite being lacking somewhat in cohesion, I liked the collection presented this weekend even more. And I still do. However, there was a photo retweeted onto my timeline last night which basically pointed out the stark similarities between items Kanye has been wearing for the past year and the pieces from his collection. You can see the photo here. Basically, Kanye had bitten everyone from Balmain to DRKSHDW. Now, I’m not naïve, ideas are borrowed every day; particularly in fashion where your designs are constricted by having to fit the same shape all your peers are designing for. Designers draw “inspiration” from other brands, it happens, but if you’ve spent the previous six months complaining about being shut out of the fashion industry despite your apparent creative genius and wealth of fresh ideas, then proceed to illustrate your point by heavily borrowing from other designers, it suggests they were maybe right to shut you out in the first place. This was only Kanye’s second foray into menswear and the first was little more than a range of basics; I could forgive an established designer for eventually running out of ideas, but this just indicates that Mr West may be a charlatan, albeit a very tasteful one. The reason the latest Kanye x APC collection looked like it was lacking in any semblance of a theme is because Mr West was seemingly going down the route of cutting and pasting from his expensive wardrobe. For someone that has interned for six months at Fendi, you’d eventually realise the levels of contempt reserved for fast-fashion companies and subsequently avoid that business model in your attempts to ingratiate yourself with the upper echelons of the couture world. Evidently Kanye disagrees.
Kanye’s mission is to ‘elevate the taste’ of people, he’s a conductor who straddles a number of juxtaposed worlds. He’s also a great showman, an insightful guy and a fantastic beat-maker. And while his Jackson 5 sample on Jay’s Izzo was so perfectly executed that it acted as a springboard for his music career, the same tenets of sampling cannot be applied in this sphere. This isn’t producing an album, a different set of rules apply. This isn’t even streetwear, where sampling and subversion are lauded if done correctly. Kanye, however, wants the respect of fashion’s big players; and if you’re going to completely disregard the rules put in place by the community from which you crave acceptance the most, you’ll struggle to retain credibility for more than a season