Why Can’t Kanye West do Fashion?
Surely the world of fashion demands nothing more than an self-aggrandizing personality in which you have to actively state that you are better than a thousand other people trying to break the same industry? It demands a ruthless dedication to your art and, in a more practical sense, requires the public backing of established figures in the fashion world. Kanye West nothing but absolutely exemplifies that kind of person. (See: ‘Beyoncé has the best album of all time’ Grammy speech)
So why have Kanye’s repeated attempts to break into the fashion industry been met with nothing but ridicule? From his denied application to the prestigious fashion institute of Central Saint Martins to Fendi’s alleged refusal to work with him to being banned from a Saint Laurent show by Hedi Slimane himself. In the world of fashion, Kanye just cannot establish himself as a major creative producer.
There is a lot to be said for West’s talent. In fact, Kanye’s fashion CV reads pretty impressively.
Previous fashion experience:
- Self-funded fashion lines shown at Paris Fashion Week (2012)
- ‘Air Yeezys’ Sneaker collaboration with Nike called (2009, 2012)
- Yeezy sneaker collection in collaboration with Addidas (2015) currentlycommanding up to $2000 dollars (~£1300) on Ebay after selling out in stores within 10 minutes.Extracurricular activities:
- Nominated for 57 Grammy awards/won 21.
- Six Platinum solo albums
- One of most digitally downloaded artists of all timeReferences: Close friends with Anna Wintour
On paper, he embodies the perfect employee; any arguments of inexperience arestomped on in sold out limited edition Yeezy sneakers.
Therefore, the natural progression of a career in fashion for a potential candidate would be to work your way up to the luxury brands? But here is where Kanye comes up against a roadblock. His fashion ambitions seem to have been limited to sportswear – senselessly seen as a ‘less prestigious’ form of fashion.
The reluctance of major fashion houses to work with him in any other scope than sportswear seems questionable. It does not seem to be a clash of personalities, Slimane and West had been firm friends before the ban and Anna Wintour consistently defends her controversial decision to place Kim and Kanye on the front cover of Vogue. It is not a matter of inexperience or inability as shown by his numerous collections.
So why is he only allowed to create within the narrow scope that his status as a rapper allows him? Why only sneakers? Why only sportswear? Why after proving himself successful in his fashion endeavors does he still find his door constantly being shut when he attempts to branch out into high-end clothing?
Despite huge leaps in diversity, the fashion world still seems to be stuck operating in circles of privilege; only the select few are allowed to create. As a rapper, Kanye does not fit into that mould. He does not have the right ‘image’ and instead is relegated back to what is seen as his rightful place – the black rapper. Any attempts to foray out of this mould artistically are met with fierce resistance and outright refusal. Why shouldn’t someone with his credentials be allowed a chance to join the fashion greats? Yes, he is allowed hugely successful sneaker collections but to work with Fendi? Unthinkable. To meet with the CEO of Louis Vuitton? Never that.
This is where the fashion industry disappointedly falls short. The refusal to celebrate diversity. The denial of less traditional figures into the prestigious inner circle. The rejection of fresh faces, ideas and perspectives.
Not to say that Kanye is the only person deserving of a break into the fashion world or to say he is the best person to represent diversity within the fashion industry and yes, it could happen to a nicer guy. But someone who has openly shown willing to study fashion in an academic capacity – showing the fact he is taking this seriously – is not allowed to rise above the ranks. Is not allowed to operate outside the boundaries of stereotypes. Once again, creativity is only afforded to the right kind of person.
To those who say that West has not displayed any talent for fashion, perhaps he should be given the chance to prove some. If he fails, then fair enough he can be judged on artistic merit alone. However, if he succeeds as establishing himself as a major player in the fashion world, as well as his ego being inflating a thousand-fold, he will have been one of the select few to break this kind of boundary in the fashion world. With his huge social media following and his charitable involvement with underprivileged youth, he has the ability to inspire a new generation into believing that traditionally elite forms of creativity are not subject to any limits. That no matter who you are, you have the potential to earn your place in fashion’s own hall of fame.