It’s around 10 a.m. in Los Angeles and Tyler, the Creator is energetic and cheery over our audio-only Zoom call—despite telling me he’s drunk when I ask him how he is.
He’s en route to some destination. In the middle of a question, the audio goes completely silent for 10 seconds before Tyler jumps back in. “I’m driving down my hill, so there might be moments where I could sound like I’m breaking up, but don’t hang up. I’m still here,” he says.
I can’t help but try to visualize the hill he’s on, the house he’s just left, the car he’s driving, or the outfit he’s wearing. Since he entered the music industry, initially as part of the Odd Future collective, almost 15 years ago, Tyler’s been very good at creating worlds we want to be a part of, or at the very least intently observe. With every album release, we’ve watched Tyler grow up, evolve as an artist and musician, and make his ideas, big and small, come to life—whether that is creating flavors like Snowflake and Pluto Bleu for Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams through his brand Golf Le Fleur or adding a bike rack to a Rolls-Royce, which he hasn’t been able to accomplish in real life but made happen in the “Lemonhead” video off his latest album Call Me If You Get Lost.
Another one of his interests is design. Tyler started designing merch for Odd Future out of his grandmother’s house that was eventually sold in over 300 stores, including an Odd Future shop on Fairfax that would close in 2015. Eventually, Tyler pivoted from merch to introduce apparel brands Golf Wang in 2011, and Golf Le Fleur in 2017, which coincided with the opening of a store on Fairfax.
Many celebrities have dabbled in the fashion business, but very few have been able to maintain lines that consistently release good ready-to-wear collections that go beyond merch. And while Tyler does still make merch, he has always wanted his collections to feel special and well made. In 2014 he told Billboard: “I don’t want it to be like fucking Rocawear or, I don’t know, a lot of things that come and go.” Instead, he’s invested in steadily building up Golf Wang and Golf Le Fleur with a small team of designers that he oversees.
“I never liked making Tyler, the Creator merch. I never liked it. I never liked putting my face on merch. I’ve done it two or three times probably,” says Tyler on our Zoom call. “But when people call Golf Wang merch, it’s like, it’s not fucking merch. It doesn’t say Tyler, the Creator on everything. These are actual clothing pieces. It’s a store. It’s ran like a line. Don’t call it merch.”
The Summer 2021 collection, which dropped last week, includes a buttery leather utility vest in soft shade of green, a wool varsity jacket with a lining that features a Black cowboy graphic, and ivory workwear pants with hot pink stitching. They are wardrobe staples with special details that feel distinctly Tyler, who says he’s still very hands-on.
“I still edit the lookbooks. I still make sure that the blacks and shadows are right. Like I still give a fuck about all of it,” says Tyler.
Here, we talk about growing Golf Wang and Golf Le Fleur, how meaningful his BET Awards performance was for him, his new interest in vintage Cartier watches, and what he hopes listeners take away from Call Me If You Get Lost.