In a culture where hip-hop is represented by a gross display of wealth, it's refreshing to hear about an artist rummaging through a dead man's clothes to look fresh. This is Macklemore's niche. The second-hand emcee linked up with Esquire to discuss his thrift store philosophy and his personal take on style. Dig through the best of the interview below.
ESQ: You can definitely see that DIY attitude in Thrift Shop. The song talks a lot about personal style versus brand loyalty. Do you think there is a problem today with the average man's personal style?
MACKLEMORE: Well, I see a lot of people dressing very similarly, and I see brands being cool because of their name and because of who wears the brands, but that’s always been the case. That’s kind of the history of fashion. You know, celebrities wear their clothes and people think these celebrities are cool, and then the clothes become valuable. It gives clothes a commodity factor once a certain individual starts wearing that brand. But do I think there’s something wrong? I think what’s wrong with the fashion world, particularly men’s fashion, is the lack of creativity behind it. That’s what I love about thrift shopping — it forces you to be creative. I shop at Barney’s as well as at the thrift shop, so I’m all over the place, but the one thing I will never do is buy a shirt because of its name, especially when it's $600 for that shirt. To me, that's ridiculous. It’s just a shirt; it’s not worth the money. I would much rather spend a ridiculous amount of money on something nobody else has versus a shirt that I like just because Kanye wore it.
ESQ: Let's say I'm a first time thrift shopper, what are some tips you would give me?
MACKLEMORE: Thrift shopping is all about going into the thrift shop and having no expectation of what you might find. It's about searching for whatever comes up. You can’t go in and think you’re going to find a trench coat and come up on a trench coat. You've got to go in there and check out the women’s section, the home section, the hat section, the backpack section. And the great thing is it's always changing, it's always different — it’s the ultimate hunt.
ESQ: Are there any rules you follow when thrift shopping?
MACKLEMORE: I buy whatever I see, but I tend to not spend money just to spend it. If I’m going to buy something, I don’t want it to just sit in the closet, so I really make sure that it's something I’m going to wear, that I’m going to use. But it all depends on what I see on a given day.
ESQ: So in all your time on the hunt, what was your best find?
MACKLEMORE: Well my favorite is usually the last thing I got at a thrift shop, and the last thing I got was this Pope jacket. I don’t know if that's what you would call it. It's white and gold. Maybe it's not exactly what the Pope would wear, but it's for a religious figure. I got it in Scarborough, North Carolina [during a tour stop] and I think I’m going to wear it on tour with a bunch of gold chains.
ESQ: Do you ever mix your thrift finds with higher-end fashion?
MACKLEMORE: Yeah, that’s the whole thing — mixing and matching stuff from department and high-end stores with stuff from the thrift shops. That’s my personal style, that’s what being a cold-ass honkey is all about.