Whether you’re a fan of Kanye West or not, there’s no doubt that he’s making his mark on the fashion industry — and he’s not slowing down. In an in-depth interview with SHOWstudio, West talked seriously about how he’s carving his place in the industry, his influence and the presence of racism.
“It took me being Kanye West to get this far in fashion. I was able to become a multimillionaire and invest in myself because no one else would have in a million years,” he said.
Here are some key takeaways from West’s two-hour interview.
On why he calls himself a genius:
“You know when people try to take the piss out of me for clothing and this and that, they never think about the fact that I never had the opportunity to be properly educated. And if given the means to be properly educated or even given the proper support group, I would completely light the lights up. So, we sell shoes that people want to line up for because we put love in them, we put heart in them, we want to make Christmas presents, we want to make something that people want so bad that it hurts them if they can’t have it. It’s not just a financial opportunity. Of course you need finances but it’s a form of discrimination and racism. Especially with blacks in fashion. And it took me being Kanye West to get this far in fashion. I was able to become a multimillionaire and invest in myself because no one else would have in a million years.”
On how he handles criticism of his designs:
“I don’t care because anyone that is criticizing, most likely they saw the 350s and acted like they didn’t like them because they’re racist and discriminatory. They’re not only racist against black people; they discriminate against celebrity. They discriminate against people with multiple art forms. Or they could say, ‘Oh wait a second, that cut wasn’t that good,’ but they do enough to throw a stab at, ‘Oh that didn’t fall the right way’ or ‘That wasn’t styled the right way.’ But they didn’t do the research on how difficult it was to one by one put together a design team and to fight against the idea of celebrity, to get overcharged because you’re a musician or people feel like you have money, to get completely taxed by the fashion world. And I love it because it’s like going to Harvard. That’s the reason why I’m in fashion. I think it’s the ultimate training because I dropped out of art school.”
Fashion is the highest form of art:
“But right now, the highest art form is actually fashion. What’s funny about that is people in art look down at fashion designers. It’s like a class…I mean, where’s architecture? The most energy currently is around fashion because with music, it’s in question if a song is popular, if that person is really a good artist or not. In fashion, for the most part, if someone is really popular, it’s because it’s agreed upon that they’re an amazing artist. They’re amazing at what they’ve done.“
His Yeezy Season 2 show at New York Fashion Week wasn’t meant to be a political statement:
“It’s a painting. It’s beautiful colours. That statement is not gonna stop the murders in Chicago. That statement is not gonna help people get jobs. That statement is not gonna take guns out of hands in Atlanta.”
Even though he’s a celebrity, he still has to fight to surround himself with the best in the industry:
“Celebrities have always had a way that they were supposed to do business with licensing deals and this and this, but I always approach myself in a luxury way whether it’s calling Nick Knight a million times to work with him or going to factories in Italy or begging Tessiclub which hasn’t called me back yet to use their fabrics because they do Celine and Lanvin. I’ve always fought just to have better paints to work with.”
On whether he’ll be respected and regarded as one of the greatest designers of all time:
“I’m Michelangelo. Of course. There’s a time when I’m sure there were people sculpting better than Michelangelo, but he made David. So as far as that question goes, is there a time that you can go on the internet and find a shoe that people want more than my shoes?
But no one’s being like ‘Man, I know I saw people lined up for three days for your shoes but one day, will you be respected as a designer?’ I designed that shoe, didn’t I? I don’t see somebody else’s shoes getting lined up for. I think there are a lot of fourteen year old, fifteen year old, twenty-five year old, thirty-five year old people that respect me as a designer.”
Watch the full interview here: