Jeremy, you’ve collaborated with some major players in rap. How does it feel to be co-signed by A$AP, one of the leaders of the new generation?
J: I’m very appreciative. I love hearing the stories about what my work means—not only to him, but to the kids he came up with. His friends, all of Harlem. For me that’s my ultimate goal: to touch people’s lives. The real people on the street. Of course I love having accolades from the fashion world and I’m thrilled with Rihanna and Gaga and Katy and everyone wearing my clothes. But when the real kids are using their money—
J: —To buy something to express to the world who they are, to say, “This is who I am because I’m wearing this,” that is the ultimate compliment for me.
Hip-hop is one of the only communities that really started its own trends. It's the only new music that's come along in eons.
You both push the envelope in your respective fields. Is that what’s most important to you, doing your own thing?
A: My own thing is all that matters to me. And it feels good when I get props for doing what’s best for me. I like when people admire it and relate to it.
J: The only box I’m in is a shoebox. That’s my challenge every time—to push the boundaries, to constantly be challenging, and at the same time doing what I feel is right. It’s easy to make something absurd. Sometimes people say, “Whoa”—like what I’m doing is crazy. It’s not for everyone. I have a special role and I take it deadly serious. I spend my life, all of my waking hours, working and thinking and trying to create and perfect new ideas.
How important is getting cosigned by your peers for each of you?
A: Very important, it’s one of those things that you feel grateful for.
J: I feel lucky that people who came before me have given me mad props. I can’t find a better example than Mr. Lagerfeld. It’s so flattering. He’s the most iconic fashion designer of our time. To have him champion me so fully and let me into his world, these are things that I never expected when I was in school thinking about fashion.
Why do you think hip-hop is so fascinated with fashion and vice versa?
A: As black people it was our thing to show that we’re not living in poverty and that we can afford extravagant things—that kind of stuck with us. So when our great-grandparents were putting on their favorite outfits, it was to put on a front for the hard times. And hip-hop is a bunch of people that never had nothing. Fashion is just an expression. It’s an art. It expresses your taste. Good taste is important in hip-hop. I wake up saying I’m going to look the best I can and do what the fuck I want to do. And that’s what it’s all about. I don’t know if I articulated it good because I’m pretty high right now—and I have a lisp and I’m going to Mars right now.
J: [Laughs.] The thing is hip-hop is one of the only communities that really started its own trends.
J: That’s why I’ve always been inspired by hip-hop artists, because they transform things—even just the jean, turning it around, inside out, sagging it—all these different things. Yes, of course we get little things from other music movements, but hip-hop has been like, Pow! It’s really inspiring and it’s the only new music that has come along in eons. Rock and roll has been around—it’s changing forms. But hip-hop is major.
A: That is so crazy.
The beautiful thing between hip-hop and fashion is what’s going on here at this shoot. Some people may ask, “Why are these two together?” But this guy loves your clothes. You love the music.
A: Yes. It can happen anywhere. It can happen in rock. It can happen in punk. It can happen in funk. But hip-hop would cherish it more because it never happened before. It’s the unexpected—like having a black president. We cherish that.
J: We almost had a black Republican nominee—that’s even more mind-boggling!
A: In hip-hop culture, things are changing every day. For Jeremy to do this with me is different. I wear braids and I’ve got gold teeth and I look up to a fuckin’ designer and his name is Jeremy Scott. I’m from Harlem. People know me. I’m certified. I love these designers. I love Rick Owens. I’m just keeping it real. This is what I do. I’m keeping it on a whole ’nother level with you. When this comes out it’s gonna be a talked-about fuckin’ cover. This is going to be talked about for fuckin’ eons and centuries and ’til infinity.
A$AP, you’ve talked about this before, but why do you still think there’s homophobia and ignorance in rap?
A: I’m not homosexual. That’s not where I’m at with my life. But I can still be greatly inspired by a homosexual. It has nothing to do with their sexuality. If I start discriminating against people, that will stop me as a person. That’s ignorant. What the fuck does that have to do with anything? It’s not like I want to date this motherfucker—I’m inspired by this dude. This isn’t about fashion, it’s what he personally did for me. I’m not saying I’m going to be an activist. I want to enlighten those brothers. I used to be like them, but I’m a grown-ass man. I don’t care what another man does with his time.
J: Why does it exist in the world? I don’t know. It’s just one of those things. I don’t know why people care about what other people do. When this becomes an issue in politics, that’s the thing that boggles my mind. I heard on CNN that Republicans won’t get behind Mitt Romney because of abortion and gay marriage. Why do you care?