When it comes to creativity, not many people can see Jeremy Scott. By now, you’ve read our cover story with Scott and rapper-of-the-moment A$AP Rocky, where the two talked killing it in their respective fields. Before the two got together though, we had an exclusive sit down with Jeremy to talk about his come-up and the work he’s put in to solidify himself as one of the hottest designers around.
Jeremy does things his way, whether he’s working on runway clothing, sneakers, or watches, and it’s the reason everyone from Kanye West to Katy Perry go to him when they’re trying to stunt. Read our full, uncut interview with Jeremy where he talks about co-signs from Karl Lagerfeld, Kanye’s first foray into women’s clothing, and what’s most important to him as a designer.
Complex: How far are you willing to push your designs?
Jeremy Scott: The only box I’m in is a shoebox. [I’m willing to push my designs] as far as necessary. That’s my challenge every time—to push the boundaries, the borders, doing what you feel is right. It’s very easy to make something absurd. I don’t know if people think about that sometimes. I know sometimes people are like “whoa,” like what I’m doing is crazy. It’s not for everyone—there’s
The only box I’m in is a shoebox.
enough stuff in the world that is for everyone, so I don’t need to fill that role. I have a special role and this is mine, so at the same I take what I do deadly serious. I spend my life, all of my waking hours working and thinking and trying to perfect and create new ideas.
There is a balancing act about it, but generally I’ve learned a while back to never wait for myself to be ready. For a while, I was always playing catch up. I was kind of scared to embrace it ‘cause the ideas sometimes are surprising even for myself if other people think it’s surprising. Well hells bells the ding-dongs on my door, and it can still be, but now I’ve gotten really good at embracing it immediately. Because I used to be like, “ooh is this too much?” ‘Cause I don’t feel that way anymore, because I’ve corrected that. I used to be, “oh well, maybe I’m not sure I can do that yet.” Now I kind of go a little more head on.
Do you think your confidence level has gotten stronger?
Absolutely. As an artist, you go through different phases—even the way the design changes and the routes to get there. I sometimes purposely change it to try to see what the difference of the results are ‘cause it’s not only always the end product, but it’s also the process which is very important and can lead so many different ways. It’s kind of a “choose your own adventure,” the way you start out, you’re not sure the way it’s going to go ‘cause you’re kind of manipulating and molding it, putting things together.
You’ve collaborated with a lot of people. Have you ever been told your designs were too crazy by a brand you’ve worked with?
Everyone that I work with has come to me because of wanting the pure essence of what I do. So actually, I don’t really ever have that issue. I don’t think I could work under that circumstance because I think that there has to be the mutual; if I’m going to agree to do this, I’m going to do this because I have a love and respect for the brand I’m working with and at the same time, they should have the trust and love and respect that what I’ll do is the right thing.
What’s more important to you; being able to do whatever you want or seeing people embrace what you do?
Wow, that is actually one of the most unique questions anyone’s ever asked me and nobody has
People are going to love things when I’m being my purest, when the light is shining the most.
ever asked it—everyone usually asks the same bullshit questions. I’ve never thought about that. I think freedom, I really would have to say, because it is so huge to me to have freedom; for my own brand and when I do have to do things that become more collaborative. I don’t do a lot of film work but things in Hollywood are much more collaborative sometimes, and too much of it I feel a little bit like, “okay I’m done with this.” I have such a completely strong persona and vision and world that sometimes in that sense, it’s kind of like it’s only good when people want to couple with that world, I’m not exactly water through cracks. Of course I love when people love it, but I also found that people are going to love things when I’m being my purest, when the light is shining the most. Anytime I try to dull that light or dim it for whatever reason, even things that I think are right for some reason, usually, it just doesn’t, it’s the things that fall to the max.
Is it more fulfilling to be co-signed by other celebrities or other designers?
I’ve had them both so I don’t know, I don’t know what to say. I’ve had it both, it’s an interesting question of course. It’s the people out there wearing it and then the people that are doing the same job. I’ve been very blessed to have so many and from early on, obviously Mr. Lagerfeld being one of the ones that I was so, even shocked and surprised like I never would have thought that this would be someone I’d be friends with, like “whoa.” Then to have not only become friends with him but have him champion me so fully and let me into his world and be like let me see how he works and party to that and do photo-shoots with him and things that I never expected when I was in school thinking about fashion.
What did it mean to you when Karl said that you were the only one who could take over his spot at Chanel?
It’s so flattering. I mean again, the most iconic fashion designer of our time. This prolific supertalented megaman. It’s a huge compliment.
What have you learned from him?
A lot of things. One thing is don’t also be afraid if you want to do pictures and you want to do this, then do it, why not? Not let people put you in a box in that way.
You’re the first designer to really re-imagine the sneaker. Can you talk about the adidas collaboration infiltrating the sneaker market? Tell us about the adidas collaboration and the freedom they gave you and how you thought about getting into sneakers.
The first project was the I sign project, in which I ended up using the Forum. There was 100 pairs only done of that and the thing was, I was actually drawing the wing at that time but there became a time crunch. That’s the only thing that’s ever a pain in the rear about anything about my job and any person I collaborate with is deadlines. The only other people that have deadlines so bad are
I basically did think, you know what? I’m gonna make a new Jordan.
journalists and writers. People don’t understand the deadlines sometimes are insane, so I kind of had to go with the ideas that I was working on with the textile, but I was already starting to draw the wing, but it hadn’t been fully realized. It came out when Y-3 started in 2002. As the wing became the cult item. You know how no one steals anything in Japan, two different stores told me the shoes got basically robbed out of the store. Every time they come back on eBay, my mom will see it and [say] they’re at 7,000 dollars.
I did the adiColor a couple years after that ‘cause the first one went so well, then we did the apparel and footwear for that one with the track suit inspired by Keith Haring again. It went really well and had such a success that they came back and asked me to do this continuing project. And that was the thing that was most important to me. Of course it’s nice in a way to do one thing, but I like the idea of dialogue that can grow and that was what was so seductive about doing this and having it continue so it could evolve and I could create. I basically did think, you know what? I’m gonna make a new Jordan—nothing about the look of it, but just like, okay everyone’s been so fascinated with the shoe for so damn long. Well here, here’s mine. I looked at it like an icon from the get-go and I design a year in advance so I had to design two collections before you saw one. So I already was carrying it over and was already reinforcing it. So that it would be what it’s thankfully grown to be and then been able to do the variations like the 2.0 or the winged sandals and winged flats.
I love that people think of me and the wings, because the wings ultimately are always going to mean optimism. Is it flying through the air to make a slam dunk? Or is it a Greek statue, or is it an angel? There’s all these different elements and the freedom again of flying and a bird and an eagle soaring. I think that’s always something; it’s very interpretive but it’s always positive interpretations and I think that’s what I really like about it too.
What big things do you have coming down the pike, anything crazy?
I do, I have a big thing but I can’t talk about it yet—it’s a big one. But everything else is continuing stuff with Swatch and continuing stuff with adidas and doing a pop-up store in Miami—I think we open December 5 or something like that. And working on trying to get a store here in L.A.
Do you like designing for men or women better?
It’s almost like two different kinds of things in a way. When I think about my own collection, I think about this fantasy of this woman and this kind of world and this kind of thing I create for her, and then everything I do after that is derivative of the story I’ve created for her. But actually, when I design, I think about myself and what I would like to wear and I think about my friends, what they would like to wear, so in a way it’s the two halves of my brain. Even the women stuff comes as a derivative of things I’ve already started and vice versa.
You linked with Bjork back in the day, and now you’re the go-to with every noteworthy celebrity. How does that feel?
It’s great, I feel very blessed that I have a quality of someone who can dress Bjork and Nicki Minaj. Bjorkstill wears stuff, she has the wings, she has the black wings she’s addicted to those. She’s so funny because she told me a homeless man jumped out from behind a trashcan and he said something about a Red Bull and she didn’t know about the ad campaign. Crazy right? But I didn’t want to tell her, ‘cause they say Red Bull gives you wings. Being able to dress so many diverse people—I’ve dressed everyone, I don’t know where to choose from—different shapes and sizes and musical genres and everything. To be very genuine in it, for people to find themselves in my world in different ways, it makes me really happy. I love that and basically everyone I work with too are people that make music I love, and who I’m inspired by. I’m not fake about it, not just doing things without everybody, working with the greatest people; Rihanna, Katy, Gaga, and Madonna and Kanye and Wayne and newbies are coming out that are showing mad love.
[Kanye] mixes it in with street stuff that he loves and he loves that hood deluxe.
How did you feel about Kanye’s first foray into fashion with the women’s line?
I think he did a good job. I felt like it was way better than most designer shows. I don’t go to shows but I see online, he put his heart and soul and passion out there. And again, you know what? The fact that he was able to not be put in a box already, to come up and walk out and say this is my work, people should give him just credit for that alone. That’s hard, that’s hard. I’m sure most of those people were expecting some kind of Macy’s line and he wasn’t trying to be that. ‘Cause a lot of people don’t know that he comes over to my house, he’s got like some, I don’t know how many thousand-dollar Apple cover that’s like a snakeskin thing. It so makes sense that it’s his collection, the things you’ve never ever ever seen and could never afford, and he’s just so into that. And he mixes it in with street stuff that he loves and he loves that hood deluxe. And I was like, “oh yeah, this makes perfect sense” and I thought it was great. I’m really proud of him.