A$AP Bari (real name Jabari Shelton) doesn’t make music, but he’s one of the co-founders of the A$AP Mob. As the story goes, he met A$AP Rocky and introduced him to the group’s musical architect Yams, and the A$AP collective was formed. Bari has always had an eye for talent, but it’s his taste in clothing that has people talking about him. Including Complex, who put him at #15 on the highly-talked about list of The 50 Most Stylish New Yorkers Right Now. Bari’s the go-to when it comes to the A$AP Mob’s forward-thinking fashion sense, and his ability to pair hard-to-find vintage pieces with one-of-one jeans, hoodies, and other items is quickly establishing him as a NYC trendsetter. The 20-year-old who says he’s never bought an item of clothing online also plans to launch three clothing lines this summer, and a jewelry line. Yup, he’s working. In this exclusive interview he talks about his early days of style, his thoughts on fashion, and the celebrities he thinks dress well. Trust us, you’re going to want to keep an eye on the kid.
Interview by Joe La Puma (@jlapuma).
You don’t rap, was your role in the crew to be the one with the eye for fashion?
That was always my dream. A$AP just became its own self. We were mostly just doing us in our own hood. Wearing high-fashion shit that niggas weren’t wearing. Niggas was looking at us in a different type of term, but we saw that shit in our own vision. It was mostly just about us doing us.
What brands back then were you up on in Harlem that people weren’t really wearing yet?
Raf Simons. Same shit I wear today. I still wear the same shit I’ve been wearing since I was younger. I went to school down here in SoHo at Chelsea High School. Since I was little, like in 6th grade I was skipping school just to go to the BAPE store. It was about me coming down to SoHo and just embracing all of that shit and bringing it back uptown.
Most of these n*ggas be spending all this money on clothes and at the end of the day, them n*ggas don’t have no swag. I’m the type of person that makes something wack look good.
Did you learn about fashion from the Internet or did you just hit up a bunch of shops?
I was straight in the stores seeing shit I like and not even knowing the names of it, just liking the pieces.I still don’t know the names of some of the shit I wear. I just like it because of the cool style of it. I won’t go off the name brands and stuff like that. I still wear $5 T-shirts and still make that shit look crack. Most of the shit I wear, I never spend over $300, or $400. I’ve never had $1000 in my pocket at one time. Most of the shit that I get is from vintage stores.
You’re more about making shit look good, no matter the price.
I’m the type of person that I’d rather go for the cheap shit that looks good rather than go for the expensive shit that looks good. Most of these niggas be spending all this money on clothes and at the end of the day, them niggas don’t have no swag. I’m the type of person that makes something wack look good.
You say you’re not into pricey shit, but what about when you’re wearing labels like Balmain?
It’s vintage. I just come-up. I find Givenchy. White people that only wear shit for certain seasons throw that shit right in the vintage stores, like they’re past that. My outfits might look expensive but I probably only spend $150 on the whole shit. I can get a Balmain tee for $70. You just have to know how to shop.
How intertwined are you and A$AP Rocky when it comes to fashion?
I’ll show Rocky some pieces like, "Yo, you saw this?" he’ll be like, "Yeah," but Rocky tries to be spontaneous with shit, so he'll have some shit and he’ll be like, "Don’t tell me it’s hot, I know this is." It’s no competition. Rocky, he’s in his own little world right now with his fashion. Back in the days, Rocky was just like always like a fly dude, always high-fashion but he wasn’t into the dark fashion and shit. He was mostly wearing Louis Vuitton loafers and he was a pretty type of hood nigga wearing skinny Seven Jeans, polos, and shit like that. None of that tacky shit.
What other rappers do you feel dress well?
Cudi shocked the shit out of me. I used to look at Cudi as a cornball when it comes to dressing because at a point, I stopped fucking with BAPE because all the corny niggas started wearing it. So I used to look at Cudi like, "Oh I fuck with Cudi’s music but I don’t like the way Cudi dress." I think Cudi is one of the flyest niggas now. He throws shit on and it looks right on him, it’s not on some, "I’m trying to do this." Certain shit fits niggas and certain shit don’t. Some niggas be jumping out of character with their clothes.