T.I. recently caught up with Hypebeast to talk about his AKOO brand, which celebrates its fifth year in business. Perhaps what was most interesting, though, was what the rapper had to say about what brands inspire him and high-end designers exploiting hip-hop. He also dropped knowledge on what he thinks about musicians receiving flack for designing clothes.
In regards to the negative criticism surrounding his venture into streetwear, T.I. says he doesn't care about that and that he's faced opposition before being a southern artist in hip-hop. "People been telling me what I wasn’t supposed to be doing for a long time and I’m still here doing it," he said. "I’m not really tripping on what other people’s opinions are. I’m more so concerned off of what the consumers opinion is."
When asked what brands inspire him, he referred to Ralph Lauren and Versace. "Ralph Lauren Denim & Supply really reinvents the Ralph Lauren brand," he said, adding that although what Ralph does won't necessarily translate into his own brand, he "salutes and acknowledges their progression." He went on to say that from a business standpoint, he respects how Versace was "open-minded enough to respect the culture of our lifestyle enough to reposition themselves and re-market themselves in a way I think yielded a great margin of profits for them."
He also was very candid about what he thinks about high-end designers who don't want to associate themselves with hip-hop, admitting that part of the blame falls on the consumer. "The power of the urban market is in the dollar," he said. "Black people spend like nobody’s business. We are the most spending race I think there is. You can have a black man that makes $14,000 or $15,000 dollars a year, and you can have an Asian, or a Latin, a Mexican, or a Caucasian who makes $14,000 a year. That black man is going to spend way more money on Gucci or Louis or Jordans or AKOO. Where they look away and disrespect our contributions to their bottom line, the only way we will receive that respect is if we enforce our power, here in the dollar."
Read the rest of the interview here.