A$AP Ferg is gearing up for the release of his capsule collection with Young & Reckless. The collection includes T-shirts, long sleeve shirts, a bucket hat, and even a bullet proof vest with different graphics and prints, including the A$AP Worldwide globe and a purple camo print, all reflective of his personal style—which Ferg says was the whole point. "I just wanted to contribute a sense of my style and fashion," he says.
We caught up with the Harlem native to talk about the collaboration. During the conversation, he also spoke about Ralph Lauren, who he has repeatedly said is one of his biggest inspirations, and what he has learned from the American designer. Near the end, he also candidly mentions re-launching his brand, Devoni.
How did the collaboration with Young & Reckless come about?
Drama, who owns the company, actually hit my people up. He’s been hitting my label and my manager up for a long time, even before we got a chance to meet each other. When I went to L.A., I was finally blessed with the opportunity to meet him. He’s a great guy, and he has a dope team around him. I had seen all the collabs he did with different people, like Cassie, and I just thought it was dope. Then I started noticing how many people were wearing Y&R, but I never thought there would be a real fashion purpose. I just think that when people wear Y&R, it’s because they can connect with the artists who did the collab with them, and that’s what I wanted to bring to the table.
What was your inspiration for the collection?
I just wanted to contribute a sense of my style and fashion, because it just hasn’t been done. Drama and I agreed that it would be dope if I did a capsule collection, because this started off with just a couple of T-shirts. Eventually, I said, "If I’m gonna go, I’m gonna go hard," because I don’t know how to settle for one small little contribution.
So we did the vest, my signature bulletproof vest. It’s a purple camouflage vest, and it’s dope. It has Y&R and Trap Lord on it. We also did a bucket hat, which on one side is camouflage, and if you flip it, inside, the other side is straight black. I tried to put some 3M material on the side, so that when you flip it out, it’s 3M. We got a bunch of T-shirts that we did, dope T-shirt ideas with different logos. It’s a collage shirt that I did that takes you back to my first album.
When you look inside the book, it’s a collage of different parts of my face, which is inspired by Birdman. If you watch the “What Happened To That Boy” video, you got his earring shining, then you got his grill shining, so I kind of remade that. That’s what inspired the T-shirt. So I guess it was a collage of my life and all my inspirations that I brought to the table. I plan on keeping this marriage going with them and with PacSun, because they are really cool people to work with.
What did you want to accomplish with this collaboration?
I wanted it to be stylish, I wanted it to be good quality, and I wanted it to be memorabilia. So when kids buy this, it’s like a piece of good times. They can look back on the piece and be like, “Man, I remember when I got this vest. They not even making nothing like this anymore.” Or when it comes back around, people can show their younger cousins that we used to wear this, that Ferg did this. I don’t feel like people are creating that anymore. I think merchandise now is just another way to make quick bucks.
When I was growing up, I saw the Aaliyah shirts, the DMX shirts, or the collab shirts with DMX and Aaliyah when they had a single together. Those were the dope collage shirts with their faces all over it. They were doing cool things like that. Or when 50 Cent wore the bulletproof vest on stage. That’s what I remember. That’s what I want people to remember. I want them to remember what a great time they had. I want them to buy into a piece of my lifestyle and to be able to feel like me, just by wearing a certain type of piece.
What was your thought process like going into this collaboration, because you used to do art and fashion before, right?
Yeah, my background is in fashion and art. I used to do design before I was actually rapping. I went to art and design high school. I went to NYC Tech for Marketing Management so I could own my own store and shit. That was the initial plan before rapping just came and bombarded my life. That was always the plan—for me to be a big designer—because that’s what I wanted to be before I was a rapper. I think I was always both: I was the designer who knew how to rap. But now, I’m just a rapper who knows how to design. When I went into this collection, I just wanted to bring something fun and different.
Do you have a favorite piece from the collection?
My bulletproof vest and the jersey. Because I have just never seen a camouflage jersey. A camouflage hockey jersey.
Yeah, I saw that one. What’s the price range of the line?
Everything is going to be affordable. That’s what we all decided on. We didn’t want to make anything that was hard for the kids to buy. It’s kids buying it, they don’t have jobs, or they’re probably in college or something. They come home, or online, and they just want to cop something and feel like they’re a part of something.
I think it does make it easier for fans if what they want to buy is affordable.
I got a lot of fans who are not even into fashion. So they look at me and wear what I wear, because it’s cool or looks cool. I want to make stuff for them, too. It’s cool enough for the fashion heads that respect it and love it. And then it’s dope because people who are not even into fashion still understand and love it the same way.
Making it more accessible to everyone.
Exactly. It’s like Polo. It's like Ralph, I guess, in that approach. I did kind of approach it in a Ralph Lauren way, where he has the Chaps line, he got Polo, he got Ralph Lauren, he got Purple Label, he got Black Label. We got the PacSun x Y&R x A$AP Ferg thing for everybody. Then we got TrapLord, that’s for everybody. Then I’m working on a clothing line called Devoni, which I’m bringing back into existence, which is more like, I can get more funky, creative, and innovative with the styles. It’s more abstract. More textures and colors and things like that.
Devoni is your own brand, right?
That’s my own brand, yeah. I designed belts and T-shirts before I was rapping. It was an accessory brand when I started off. Chris Brown owns 14 of my belts. Swizz Beatz owns a zillion of my belts. They were supporting me before I was even anybody. So thank you to them for believing in me when I was just a kid coming up in Harlem designing. I’m gonna revisit the brand and just make it bigger, just do all the things I wanted to do back then that I couldn’t afford to do, but now I can.
What’s that going to look like when you re-launch it?
It’s going to be more avant-garde, and it’s gonna be stylish. A lot of the stuff that I designed has been dope, but it’s been playing with T-shirts from templates and hats. There will be jackets and everything.
It’ll just show people where my mind is at. People probably think I’m just so generic, because I’m just doing generic shit. It’s not that I’m just doing generic shit; that’s all that I could afford to do right now. But after traveling the world, just meeting up with different designers, I’m able to expand a little bit more, revisit those ideas, and make them bigger.
You talk about traveling around the world and meeting up with different designers. What’s one of the most valuable things you’ve learned from a designer?
Well I’ve read Ralph Lauren’s book, The Genuine Authentic, and I just remember one thing. It doesn’t only pertain to clothes, it pertains to everything in my lifestyle. He got shut down a lot of times. He started off working at Brooks Brothers, and then he quit Brooks Brothers to sell ties, because he saw a void that needed to be fulfilled. I guess Brooks Brothers wasn’t making fat ties, so he started off selling the ties.
Then he had seen someone bootlegging the same ties as him on the streets, right next to Bloomingdale’s or something. He felt like his whole world was crushed. Long story short, I think Bloomingdale’s called him up and said, "We need your ties," and I guess that’s how he got his first shot. He started selling his ties in Bloomingdale’s. But then everybody started bootlegging his ties. He looked into doing more things. He pushed the envelope, because everybody didn’t see his vision, or he was a workaholic, the vision was so clear to him; he didn’t let up.
He’ll sit with his tailor, beating him on the head until he gets the right cuts. He used to get into these arguments with kis tailor and all of that. That’s how I am, because I’mkind of relentless when it comes to my vision and when it comes to putting it out to the world. If it even goes a little off, and somebody else does it the way I had it in my head, I couldn’t forgive myself for that. They’ll mess around and change the world because their vision came out the exact way it was in their head. I learned that from Ralph. Go for it, and don’t half-ass.
You mentioned continuing this collaboration. What do you want to do with the line in the future?
I want to do more designs, as far as a collection or a capsule collection. I want to keep it art for now. I want to have fun with it; I don’t want it to be so serious like a job. It is something that I love, so I want to build it within my own realm, and then just release little pieces here and there and share it with the world.
It’ll contain a certain amount of exclusivity for the people, and they will respect the brand more, because it’s not being whored out. Eventually I’ll release stuff, but I just want to keep it dope. The reason why I want to design my own stuff to begin with is because nothing is exclusive anymore. Even your $3,000 Raf Simons sneakers are not exclusive. I went to Paris and bought these Rick Owens for like $500, and I wore them and felt wack, because I felt like everybody else. That’s not me at all.
I used to give my Jordans away after one wear, because I saw somebody else in school with them, and they felt like they could be like me. And I felt like nobody could be like me. That’s where I wanna take this Y&R collab, period. I’m just tired of wearing expensive clothes that everybody else has. It’s kind of stupid to spend $100 on a shirt and $600 on a pair of shoes, and then everybody looks like you. I don’t want to be accepted, I always want to be on the outskirts. Leave me alone, think it’s dope from afar. Copy later.