Kanye West‘s feelings are hurt…again. The rapper went to Twitter and poured out his feelings of black sheepdom in the fashion industry. He ended the rant with a link to a You Tube video, excerpting a scene from Wreck It Ralph.
Kanye West used the clip to allude to his fashion industry bullying through the character, Vanellope. All Vanellope wants to do is race cars like the other racers. She creates a race car (different and not “up to par” with other racers) and exhibits her excitement to race. The racers end up beating Vanellope down, reminding her she is a “glitch” and “that’s all she will ever be.” They then proceed to destroy her race car.
Strangely enough, it’s actually very accurate depiction of Kanye’s welcome (or lack thereof) into the fashion industry. He’s been forceful in his attempts to win over the hearts of designers and industry insiders alike, to no real avail. But the interesting thing about the fashion industry is that, no matter what you do, you can’t buy your way into it.
Fashion week is the only “event” that people can’t directly purchase tickets for. I like that it is this way. Fashion week is for the textile creatives, those who purchase retail for the masses, those who write about it to educate consumers and share stories, and for those who wear it. No amount of money can “make” you a longstanding designer.
Look at the list of celebrity “designers” who end up just making clothing for their fans and not even the general masses. Where do we see their items? In the clearance section.
It’s a lesson Kanye needs to learn.
Kanye continues to be vocal about attributing his debt and celebrity status as reasons why he has yet to succeed in the fashion industry. But he’s consistently missing the point.
So, I’d like to take a few minutes to address Kanye directly.
Kanye — Since you said you don’t want white publications commenting on black music, I thought I would serve as your black fashion industry friend to comment on your fashion choices. To tell you what Anna Wintour and Riccardo Tisci won’t.
I applaud your attempts at pursuing your passion and I do believe that you have an opportunity to have a successful fashion brand (and your celebrity will help push this forward). However, the same things you complain about, couple with your mannerisms, is exactly what is turning off our industry towards you.
While I don’t have ALL the answers, Kanye, here 4 reasons why you are in a one-way relationship with the fashion industry.
The same plight of being a celebrity, that you blame for stunting your fashion growth, is the same vessel you use to propel the success you have. You focused Yeezy Season 3 around things you excel in (your music) and turned the show into a paparazzi’s dream. You had more celebrities at your show than pretty much any other designer or fashion house. I understand your “creative genius” in wanting to juxtapose fashion, music, and experience: however, it would have been better received if it was about the fashion, music, and experience….and not your celebrity friends. Was the buyer of Bloomingdales in attendance? Hip boutique owners in Brooklyn? These are the people that you need to be sending direct messages.
You are a big deal and married to a bigger deal. You have built an empire on your music — you don’t need to name drop to be cool. You are cool.
You are trying to buy the one thing you can’t: time.
You are $53 million dollars in debt because you lack patience. It takes time to grow into a successful fashion designer, no matter how creative and talented you are. Michael Costello was on Project Runway Season 8 (not even a winner) and opened his first couture store in Palm Springs at 15. All we see now is celebrities in his clothes and a seemingly-overnight success story. The Internet is not checking receipts and seeing this man was in Vogue at age 14.
Your friend above, Riccardo Tisci, who sent you flowers to congratulate you on your show. He’s earned the status he currently holds. Tisci studied design from the age of 17 and it wasn’t until 8 years after that he had the opportunity to attend London’s Central Saint Martins Academy. It wasn’t for another 6 years after that he would earn the opportunity to be the Creative Director for Givenchy. He “made” it 14 years after being in the business.
Yes, I do believe you can be self-taught and still succeed. I watched your UStreams years ago, when you were studying fashion in France. I know you are dedicated to fashion; however, Kanye, this is a journey and the road is long. You have to do the due diligence and like your beautiful daughter, North West, you are currently in the toddler stage. Focus on where you are sourcing your materials, what type of lifestyle and person you are designing for and featuring your clothes in editorials for creative distribution. Unfortunately, donning your in-laws in your clothing, while important, isn’t enough.
This business is all about deference, my friend. You’ve made a splash, however, you are a fish in a very large, very saturated ocean. It is possible for you to reach the top, but not if you continue to disrespect the greats. Which segues nicely into my next point…
Yes, you are a genius, but know your role.
You make grandiose statements that even people who are the grandmothers (Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington) and grandfather (Karl Lagerfeld) of the industry would have the tact not to do say. You want to steal the new Creative Director of Balenciaga to be the Creative Director of your line? Seriously? Yes, Creative Directors and designers bounce fashion houses. Nevertheless, Demna Gvasalia, doesn’t even have the same design structure as your line. And, perhaps more importantly, you are not Balenciaga…yet.
You’ve got a big…EGO.
You may want to be the boss, but are you qualified to do so? Collaborate? Yes. Serve as a muse? Definitely. Be in charge of the fashion house? Nah, son. If you haven’t had a successful season (deemed in dollars and not hype), then you should be concerned with the House of Kanye before you are worried about influencing fashion foundations.
I won’t harp on this as you recognize the disease.
As a Black, male, despite your success, I do recognize that there are invisible ceilings (even for you). I can’t help but wonder, why you even want to be included in a space that doesn’t want to recognize you. With your genius, popularity, and fan-fare, you need to do what you scream you always want to do: CREATE.
Your relationship with the fashion industry is similar to that of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michele Basquiat. Basquiat, while talented, was insecure and felt he needed Warhol’s talent to be successful. Whereas, it was truly Warhol who needed Basquiat for fresh creativity.
Your Madison Square Garden show sold out in 10 minutes: you created performance art with fashion. Continue to create, Ye. Realize for great rewards, there will be great risk. You deserve to have your creative space love you back. Walk away from this mildly abusive, one-sided relationship, and RISE.