Did each of you want to stand out from a young age?
J: I did for sure.
A: When I was 20 I got fed up with doing shit just because it was the popular thing to do. I became miserable trying to keep up with trends so I started setting them on my own.
J: I always felt there was a fire burning inside me that was different, that was stronger. I grew up on a farm. I was removed from everything.
From an early age I was wearing things in a different way. Once in seventh grade I was wearing like seven shirts all together and I would say, 'My mom told me to dress warm today.'
A: That is fuckin’ amazing! You grew up on a farm? You see what I’m saying right now? He grew up on a fuckin’ farm! I grew up in Harlem and my music sounds like it’s from Houston, from Cali, or Westbumblefuck, for that matter. He grew up on a fuckin’ farm and look at this. Look at this!
J: I always felt that I was supposed to go on to do something else.
A: Did it take getting off the farm for you to become more creative?
J: I was already. From an early age I was wearing things in a different way and starting to figure out how to get things that I could either customize or make myself. Even with what I was given, I would totally twist it, turn it, put it together. I remember once in seventh grade wearing like seven shirts all together.
J: And then I would say, “My mom told me to dress warm today.”
J: I had all these different concepts that I would come up with, and every day at school was like a fashion show. The only reason I wanted to go to school was for people to see what I was wearing. I’m a lot more tame now because I have a fashion show. I used to have to have it all on me. I bought a Flavor Flav–style clock from the captain of the football team in my French class. I was always mixing different cultures, and there were people who said, “You shouldn’t do this because you’re white.” Especially in a place that was not urban. And I was all about hip-hop, and mixing different things with my high-fashion inspiration.
A: I told you it’s all about balls. You got to have balls to do it. Who can take that criticism? Someone with big fuckin’ balls, honestly. I’m serious. That’s what it takes. What designers inspired you?
J: When I first realized there were fashion designers I think I was 14. Gaultier was doing unusual things. I was also inspired by so many diverse things—hip-hop, punk, and even stuff at the mall. Everything was converging, and I would customize my own stuff so that I would have things that were personal or unique.
What would you consider your breakthrough moment?
A: Right now. [Laughs.] Also when I signed my deal. You know that was a crazy fuckin’ deal to happen for me.
J: I feel like I’m always having a breakthrough.
A: That is so crazy. I should’ve said that!
J: [Laughs.] But it’s true. There are always so many goals and new things I want to achieve, and I feel so blessed for everything and so humbled by people’s support. When I turn on Twitter there’s people writing “I love you,” and they don’t even know me. It’s such a nice feeling. We all have bad days, and I don’t take it for granted. I really don’t, ’cause I’m a people person. I want some love.