Kanye West Compares His Fashion Design Aspirations to "12 Years a Slave"

He also explains what it means to be a scholar of clothing.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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Kanye West went on a podcast with his buddy Bret Easton Ellis, and the two had an hour-long conversation about film, creativity, content, and the user experience in the modern age. Needless to say, it was pretty safe to assume that Kanye was going to go on one of his celebrated stream-of-thought monologues in which he connected the dots between various aspects of pop culture, design, history, fashion, and music. This one did not disappoint.

While Kanye's recent press circuit has caused people to ridicule his long-form answers and cultural critiques, they do at least offer a level of thinking that's way deeper and more insightful than the usual pre-packaged answers celebs and musicians give while promoting their latest endeavor. There may be hyperbole involved, but Yeezy's claims and cultural criticism has sparked conversations that otherwise would not have occurred, including ones that focus a spotlight on the fashion industry and the people who work within this system.

Stream the whole podcast here, but enjoy a few of the fashion and style-related tidbits below.

On having his creative freedom taken away:
"I felt like the main character [in Twelve Years a Slave]. And what I'm dealing with even as a mega-popular rich celebrity, you know, 'Fuck you, who do you think you are to complain about anything?' situation that I'm in. In the past when I've dealt with attempting to create in other fields, or attempting to create in clothing. I've kind of been on this campaign that started with, ironically, my song, 'New Slaves.' Where I was sitting in Paris and dealing with all of these companies that I had promoted, and I saw my friends promote it. And the reason, literally, why they would sell on Barneys' floors is because me and Jay Z and everyone wore it. It'd be something that maybe I kind of discovered four years before then me and Don C started putting it on-trend.

Then you start doing more research and say, 'Hey, I want to be a part of the creative conversation and be able to make money off of that also.' They stop you right there and say, 'You can't be a part of that conversation,' or they'll give you a one-off. At Louis Vuitton I did one shoe. At Nike I did two shoes but they spread them apart over four years and they had the most impact possible. I kind of saw that side of what it was, as a creative, to be free, the parallel to the main character in Twelve Years a Slave. When it was taken away from me, it felt like what it felt like as a creative to be enslaved."

On Zappos' "shit" product:
"I got into this giant argument with the head of Zappos, that he's trying to tell me what I needed to focus on. Meanwhile he sells all this shit product to everybody, and his whole thing is based off of selling shit product."

On the polarity of luxury versus mass-production:
"Particularly in clothing, and I want to do this parallel, it's super luxury box, high up, this dream of what you could have, some Céline bag or Hermès jacket or something in this box of luxury, like they're engineered to a Ferrari level, which they're not. Or it's the knock-off version from Zara and H&M. There's no medium ground of quality like what Apple brought, or what Nike and adidas bring."

On being a clothing scholar:
"The skill set to dress nice is too high. If someone looks at you and says, 'Oh you dress nice,' you have to focus on it so much, you almost have to be a scholar of clothing to be a well-dressed person."

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