Fresh off debuting his extensive Adidas line, Kanye West gave a lengthy interview to Style where he waxed on many fashion-related topics—including A.P.C. boss Jean Touitou's controversial, racially tinged remarks that lost him a Timberland gig. The whole thing is, like any Kanye interview, very much worth reading in full; we've rounded up some of the things we learned from reading it below.
1. He doesn't consider himself a designer in a traditional way
"I just want to propose a solution to problems that me and my wife and my friends face. I sit with a group of problem solvers and say, 'In this situation, I would like to have this.' And then from my art background—from my heart background—I have a perspective on color that I've always wanted to get across."
2. Designing clothes has given him a sense of self-awareness.
"I had to learn what my voice was because I was still coming off of doing crocodile this and almost irresponsible takes on designing clothes to make up for a lack of skill. And now I have a real purpose to what I want to present."
3. He loves working with Adidas.
"Adidas is the perfect place to be. If someone was to say, 'Hey, do you want to go to a high-end house now?' I'd absolutely say no. I'm not trying to [sound] presumptuous, I'm just saying that if in my wildest dreams I was presented with the opportunity, I would absolutely say no at this point. Because I'm only concerned with making beautiful products available to as many people as possible."
4. When it comes to fashion, he doesn't read his own reviews.
"I don't read the reviews, because it's some kind of backhanded compliment or something focusing on not the main point. It was really difficult to do this. It would be difficult to make a proposition this simple for any designer. So many people told me that it had to have logos or it had to have this, but I fought for exactly what I wanted in my closet. I fought for what was true to me."
"People sometimes ask, "Why does Kanye West pander to fashion in this way?" I don't pander to it, I'm trying to learn from it. Because I believe there's some information in it that can help people have better lives. And it's being held and blocked and not given to the people. So this is very much a Robin Hood approach that I have to making clothes."
6. He thinks ready-to-wear fashion should be a thing of the past.
"I believe the category of ready-to-wear should be removed. I'm biased, but I think the best red-carpet look of all time—if not, one of the top five—was my wife's look at the Grammys. You know what [Jean Paul Gaultier] just did. He said, 'Fuck the shit. I'm making real shit. I'm doing perfume and couture.' And by focusing on that, he delivered … I just think for me as a person that dresses the most photographed person in the world, I get bored with ready-to-wear really easily. Here's this glamorous being, this modern-day Helmut Newton girl, and you just get this 'mid' thing. I just feel like we've been hit with this barrage of extreme medium. And you never go and ask, 'Hey, can I get an extreme medium?'"
7. Kim Kardashian is his fashion muse.
"She was always my muse, now she's become other designers' muses. Or designers' muses, because like I said, I don't want to disrespect designers by calling myself a designer, I just think I have a vision of something that I want to do. But God has a special way to teach people through life. I guess I got a little more credit for my second collection than my first, for whatever that is worth. But soon as we started dating, fashion people were really opposed to the idea of reality stars. And all the relationships, the somewhat friends that I had somewhat built up, completely turned their backs on her and me. They already had their back to her, and now they turned it to me. The so-called traction that I was getting in the high-fashion world was completely thrown out the window and I was finally allowed to go to school, where every day I was in my mom [Kris Jenner]'s house, in my little brother's old room, Rob's old room, re-tailoring a Céline skirt, re-tailoring a Saint Laurent jacket, re-tailoring a Zara top, re-tailoring Wolford … And day by day by day, [Kim and I] learned, we got better. We looked at the photographs together and she improved my style, we improved each other."
8. He's sorry people had to wait for his Adidas presentation as it ran late.
"I apologize that people had to wait. That's definitely not something I did on purpose. I actually had no idea what time it was. I wasn't looking at the clock or in charge of that. It's literally my first proposition in three years. So I apologize for the wait, to the people that had to actually wait at the New York fashion show. I apologize to the kids that had to wait in the 42 theaters where we streamed the show across the globe, I apologize to them for the wait. Let me just explain something to everyone. I'm sorry. I'm a human being. I've got opinions, I'm not always right, I'm not always on time, I don't always say things in the proper way, but my intentions are always extremely pure. My purpose is extremely just."
9. His grandfather's funeral first inspired him to pay attention to fashion.
"I went to my grandfather's funeral and my cousin stood up and told this story about how he won best-dressed in high school because his mom was a tailor. And I looked to the left of me and the lady was just as—and I hate this word—but just as chic … I dislike the concept of chic being the highest compliment for a human being. I'd rather someone be nice than to be chic. But regardless, this person that was sitting to the left side of me was both nice and chic. And to the right side, this person was also extremely nice and chic and a real person in Oklahoma City. And I looked at the entire funeral and I said to myself, 'This looks just as good, if not better, than fashion shows that I go to in Paris.' And I realized that it had all been a scam, that it had all been smoke and mirrors to present this concept that a straight black guy out of Chicago that's a rapper, that's married to a reality star, could somehow not design a coat, that can't design a T-shirt, that can't have enough of an opinion."
10. He thinks focusing on racism in fashion is distracting.
"Racism and the focus on racism is a distraction to humanity. It would be like focusing on the cousin from your mom's side versus the cousin on your dad's side. We're all cousins. We're all the same race. To even focus on the concept of race, it's like—perhaps people give me an extra cookie for the fact that my color palette is so controlled and I'm black. When someone that's like, racist, comes up to me at A.P.C. and says, 'I thought it would be a bunch of animals on your shirts,' because they heard that I rapped. But it just makes the journey interesting. We came into a broken world. And we're the cleanup crew. And we're only cleaning up by helping each other."
11. He hates elitism.
"I hate the concept of limited edition completely. I hate the concept of separatism. Elitism. Classism. We're all equal. The only thing that's valuable is time. It's the only thing we can't get back. The only luxury is time. Let's stop playing games with each other and let's start helping each other. If someone really feels that there's something that I can improve on, do like Pat McGrath and come to the fucking show and help me. Do like Vanessa Beecroft and come and help me. Because I'm not here for this to be about me. I'm here to help people. I'm here to help the 14-year-old version of myself that couldn't afford shit."
12. The London riots in 2011 inspired the Adidas line.
"...I was living in London at that time and saw the way that the kids wanted the clothes and I didn't have the skill set to do the more inexpensive clothes. This designer said to me one time, we were looking at something online, 'This looks like a really bad couture designer that no one knows.'"
13. He's got nothing but respect for Ralph Lauren.
"Ralph is the god. And that's all I want to say about Ralph."
Lead image: Vivien Killiea/Getty Images