a$ap rocky gets nostalgic over guess' 90s hip hop history
We speak to fashion’s favourite rapper about taking it back to the 90s for his collaboration with GUESS Originals.
"I have many closets," says A$AP Rocky. How many? "A few..." He cracks a smile that would look shy if it weren't exposing two diamond-encrusted gold teeth. It's hardly a secret that Rocky is into fashion. He's namechecked every major designer in his lyrics, from Balenciaga to Ann Demeulemeester. He's starred in campaigns for his friend Alexander Wang. He regularly sits front row at New York Fashion Week and collects vintage Issey Miyake, he tells me.
Recently, Rocky reached out to GUESS to express his appreciation for the brand's role in hip-hop history and how much it meant to him growing up. Not long after, he was flying out to LA, where the brand let him loose in its archive. The result is Archive: GUESS Originals x A$AP Rocky, a throwback collection of men's and women's pieces that look like 1996 but fit like 2016. There are striped tees stitched with "GUE$$ JEANS USA," cute acid-washed crop tops, and skinny overalls printed with Rocky's customised version of the brand's iconic triangle logo.
"It's taking archival designs and adding a new twist," he says. But it's also about nostalgia: "I think this is dope because hip-hop hasn't seen these color ways and patterns since the early 90s."
To introduce the collection — which will hit the racks at stores on January 30 — Rocky and his collaborator artist Kimi Selfridge (AKA Tan Camera), have installed a replica 90s teen bedroom on the Bowery in New York. This weekend, it will open to the public, who will be able to relive their after school golden days with fully operational Super Nintendos, Slimer! comic books, and packets of "Pop Rocky$" candy.
What first made you want to get in touch with GUESS?
I was at home watching the film Menace II Society and the opening scene has GUESS in it, and that film is an urban home classic. It was just listening to lyrics like Nas in 1994, on his debut album, Illmatic: "When I get dress, it's never nothing less than GUESS." And seeing Tupac in GUESS T-shirts with stripes on them in all his videos. This is a capsule collection about 90s nostalgia. This is stuff that people don't know about in this day and age and I felt like it was my duty to put them onto it. Why deprive these kids of that? I would never neglect anybody of culture or information. I feel like that's how you spread love: knowledge. So you give them a different look. Kids don't always want to look like everybody else. This is fun for the kids and it's fun for me. I'm a kid, a big kid. Kimi and I curated this whole thing.
Are the video games you chose ones played growing up? What were your favourites?
Oh man, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Sonic, Tetris, Pac-Man, Crash Bandicoot, man you name it.
I still play that every day. On the Nintendo Wii U. The racing! Do you want to play me?
Yeah! But I really think I'd win.
Nah, trust me. I go hard. The only person that ever beat me was Tyler, the Creator.
In addition to working on this collection, you also released an album this year, and you're touring. In fashion, this has been a big year for talking about heavy workloads — I'm thinking specifically about Raf Simons — how do you balance everything?
I remember visiting Raf and him having anxiety about dealing with Raf Simons and Dior. It's all about maintaining it, and I think that's why he left. I'm young, so I'm not at that stage yet. But Raf did a lot in his day. He worked at Jil Sander, he did a lot. At the same time, he's OG, and he shouldn't have to work that hard. Or maybe he just felt like he'd accomplished what he wanted to. I love what Sidney [Toledano] and everybody there did; their decision to pick Raf was just genius. Dior's smart, that's why I respect them. At the same time, I do wish he was still there. That shit was tight to me. I wanted all my females, any girlfriend I had — if I was to have a girlfriend — I would want her in that. I don't have a lot of females though, so…
If you could be the creative director at any fashion house, which would you choose?
Oh shit. Man. That's not fair. That's like picking a team. It would definitely be Dior. I love what Kim Jones does. And the new Gucci shit, that Gucci shit!
And who do you still want to work with in your music?
Andre 3000 and Adele. I wanted Adele before she dropped this latest album. But that's not happening. There are a lot of people I want to work with still.
You rap about fashion, you're friends with designers, but overall do you think the fashion world is as welcoming of musicians as musicians are of fashion?
I think so. I just hope that the fashion industry doesn't become too overpopulated with... false prophets. From music that is.
Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Photography courtesy GUESS