A$AP Rocky recently spoke with Complex about his views on modern sneaker culture, the direction of New York’s style, and the evolution of his personal style. The interview caught the A$AP Mob leader during a photoshoot for a promotional adidas editorial titled “three stripes,” which features the Harlem rapper in mix-and-match outfits like Parisian designer threads paired with adidas Originals Stan Smith sneakers — a look that the rapper cites resonates with his personal style, especially circa 2011 when his music was making its first breakthrough. Having associated himself with fashion designers like Raf Simons and Rick Owens at an early stage, Lord Flacko eventually came out with his first fashion endeavor with the collaborative Jeremy Scott sneaker in 2013. Since he was a teen growing up in Harlem, A$AP Rocky has made a name for himself as one of the most eccentric and flamboyantly dressed artists on the scene. Check out the interview below.
What makes the Stan Smith such a stylish sneaker to you?
It just looks classic. It’s the finishing touch, especially if you compare it to the shell-toe. When it comes to the Stan Smith, it’s way more smooth and way more classic to me.
How has your sense of style evolved since your first mixtape?
Things that I could never afford, people see me in more often now, ’cause I got the financials to go purchase them. [My style] definitely matured. There’s a lot of things that I used to wear that I don’t wear anymore, and there’s a lot of things that I wore before that I’m in love with now, or things that I wore a long time ago that I brought back out.
You’re no stranger to Raf Simons and Rick Owens. What do their collaborations with adidas say about the intersection between fashion, sneakers, and street culture?
It’s dope as fuck, you know. It’s making adidas look strong. There aren’t too many highly respected designers in the high-end world that other athletic name brands can do a collaboration with. This is amazing: All of my favorite designers are doing an adidas sneaker. Who would’ve ever thought that Rick Owens would do an adidas sneaker, or Raf? It’s crazy.
You’ve said there are downsides to being a trendsetter. You’ll see somebody rocking something that looks good on you and they may not be able to pull it off. How do you know if a trend works for you?
That’s an individual thing. Everybody has their individuality, so you just gotta make it work for you. I no longer concern myself with what everybody’s doing and how they do it. I don’t even care anymore.
Where do you think New York City style is right now?
It’s diverse. I went around the world and I see influences from Copenhagen, France, London, all inspired by stuff that New York does, and vice versa. I like the way fashion is going. It’s just like music—it doesn’t matter what region you’re from, you can adapt to any region for music or fashion. It doesn’t matter like it used to.
Is there still such a thing as a “regional look”?
You can’t tell where anybody’s from anymore. From the way that they rap, look, dress, sound, everything is just one melting pot. I love it.
When people think of who in New York City is absolutely killing it, they obviously think of you. Is there anyone else who embodies NY in the way they carry themselves and dress?
No. [Laughs.] Hell no.
What should those kids do if they aspire to be as jiggy as you are?
They’re gonna be way jiggier than me because they’re younger, they’re more advanced. At the end of the day, this is a blessing, but I’m not going to be who I am forever for New York. There’s gonna be another guy to come along and do it even better than I did it, and I just hope that me and that kid get along, so I can be happy for him.
The best thing to do is stick to your guns. I remember being poor and thinking, “Man, I wish I could afford those clothes that Pharrell is wearing, or Kanye’s wearing.” I couldn’t afford it, so I would get a girlfriend to do it, or I would hustle. All I cared about was my clothes. When I was still broke, I felt like I had more style. I still feel that way—well, maybe not for real. I just feel like there’s going to be another kid that comes along—maybe he’s not even going to be from New York—and he’s just going to represent fashion the way that I did, but better, or in a different form, and that’s all that matters.
What has gotten you in more with models—being fly or looking fly?
Not giving a fuck that they’re models is what got me pussy. Like, I’ve fucked so many models because I don’t give a fuck about them being models. Fuck ’em, fuck ’em, fuck ’em, you know? That’s it.