Kanye West is such a divisive public figure. He's so extremely talented and visionary when it comes to his music that you can't help but root for him. But then, on the eve of his fashion show/album release extravaganza, he goes and tweets that Bill Cosby is innocent in all caps. And as a dedicated fan of his musical work since back in The College Dropout days, I find that I often have to separate Kanye the human from Kanye the rapper/producer. One part of his celebrity profile that many people seem to have separated from is Kanye the designer. Fashion purists turn those noses up in disgust at the thought of a rapper (or any celebrity really) designing a collection and showing during Fashion Week. Only the most insanely loyal fans seem to be the ones willing to stand in a mile-long line for a pair of Yeezy Boosts. But as he premieres both his new album Swish (or Waves or TLOP or whatever) and Yeezy Season 3, his ongoing partnership with Adidas, I think it's time that we all come to a very important realization. Love him or hate him, we need to accept Kanye the designer.
1. Ralph Lauren just sent over a custom made flight jacket for little Saint West.
That's right. Before Saint can tell people to be honored by his lateness for the first time, he's getting custom made threads that are worth more than two months of NYC rent. I don't know about you, but this sounds to me like an official co-sign. I don't see RL custom designing kids' clothes for anyone else. This isn't because of Kim K. This is because Kanye is being recognized as an up and coming force in the fashion business. And game recognize game. Mr. Lauren is including Mr. West in his private club of fashion designer friends. If one of the most esteemed, long-standing designers can acknowledge him, shouldn't we?
2. His Madison Square Garden event is the kind of spectacle the fashion industry is missing.
If you're not a blogger, designer, fashion editor, or model, Fashion Week is boring. Save for a weird prop here or some kooky makeup there, Fashion Week runway shows and presentations follow a pretty uniform standard. And many designers haven't dared to break tradition. Kanye, the king of giving no fucks, is using his fashion show to simultaneously debut his new album. And he's doing so at one of the biggest venues in America with the help of 1200 extras. This is insane! Even if the collection is garbage, people will walk away with something to remember and they will be talking about it long after it's over. The same can't be said for any other show this year.
3. His personal style is next level.
Say what you will about his design skills, but an extraterrestrial ability to dress oneself can often translate to great design. And he’s been cosigned by GQ and just about every other menswear publication for his vision of his personal taste and aesthetic. He has singlehandedly influenced the vast majority of male style bloggers. He's practically turned them into a zombie following all decked out in severely ripped jeans, suede Chelsea boots, and army green bombers. Who else is changing the landscape of men's fashion in such a drastic and almost militaristic way?
4. We love to hate him but we keep talking about him.
Whether it’s a scathing review or a fire emoji, we all keep talking about the clothes. Even if they suck, he’s doing what most designers can’t seem to do. He’s making us talk about fashion on a national scale and he’s making us talk about him. I know that many will argue that he's only at this platform because of his celebrity, but unfortunately, we'll never be able to see the flipside-if a fame-free Kanye would have made it as a designer. His over-the-top antics, outrageous quotables, and outspoken opinion make him a design talent that's just as fun to watch off the runway as he is on it.
5. He's a student of fashion.
Yes, he's filthy rich and can afford to buy the most expensive pieces. But money buys clothes, not style. How quickly we forget that Kanye reportedly interned at both Gap and Fendi back in 2009. He also launched a successful sneaker collaboration with Louis Vuitton in the late aughts. Some of the fashion industry's most esteemed houses are publicly acknowledging his talent. Who are we to decide if he is or is not a good designer?
6. And as a bonus, he likes Wiz Khalifa's pants.
Despite annihilating him on Twitter in that infamous beef a couple weeks back, Ye still took 140 characters to drop some quick praise on Wiz's skinny pants. A true visionary.
I rest my case. It's time to stop being snobby and stop hating him. I'm not asking you to agree about Cosby's innocence. I'm not asking you to agree that Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" was the best video of all time. And I'm most certainly not asking to start watching new episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. But I am asking you to follow the lead of some of the biggest names in fashion and give Kanye the designer a chance. Can you do that for me? Just once?