Photography by Laura Coulson, styling by Allan Kennedy.
The 28-year-old rapper A$AP Ferg is perhaps best known as a member of the notorious New York rap group, the A$AP Mob, with his own hit singles like "Shabba" and "New Level," as well as his most recent album, East Coast, which dropped this spring. And while he and his peers like A$AP Rocky have publicly demonstrated their love for high-fashion designers like Raf Simons as well as a knack for successful brand collaborations, Ferg in particular is dead serious about his side-hustle as a designer and style savant.
Since January 2016, A$AP Ferg and the Los Angeles-based denim brand AGOLDE have been bridging East and West with collaborative capsule collections, the second of which will be available at The Webster on July 20th and AGOLDE.com starting July 27th. The lookbook was shot with Ferg's longtime friends on his home turf of Hamilton Heights in Harlem, New York, which is where he called W magazine from one afternoon this summer.
What are some of your regular Harlem spots?
Red Rooster is one of my favorite spots in Harlem, and Melba's is another restaurant I go to. It's great place for food, culture, drinks, and lounges are really big.
Has growing up in Harlem influenced your style?
Yes, Harlem gave me a lot of sauce—that's what we call it. It gave me confidence; we were taught to walk with our heads up. If we were broke, you couldn't tell. We were very good at hiding the fact that we were poor people because we dressed so nicely.
This is your second collection for Agolde. How did you first get involved?
I was linked with them through Scott Lipps, who is a good friend of mine. I was able to come in and basically be an intern for a week. I worked nine-to-five just learning; it wasn't glamorous at all. It was denim-making 101, from different zippers to washes. I got to meet all the employees and they showed me laser machines you could only get in Turkey, tumbler machines that use rocks to make jeans look more worn, sandblasters—I was like a kid in a candy store.
What inspired the style choices you made with this collection?
Seeing pictures of my dad and his friends back in the day, like late-'80s/early-'90s Harlem vibes. They wore these huge coats and army jackets. I was also watching Stranger Things and was really inspired by how the denim looked back then—like the kids with the straight, raw denim. It's a very vintage look with modern, shiny embellishments, like nickel-plated buttons and zippers.
The collection is also unisex. Was that important to you?
Definitely. I just got tired of my girl and her homies always trying to take my clothes. They were like, 'You never make stuff for us!' And when they did wear it, I was like, 'Damn, that looks good.' So this time, since I knew that women were possibly going to be wearing my clothes as well, I made the fabrics unisex.
You tend to wear really bold looks when you're on stage. Is your performance style different from your day-to-day style?
They're not that different. I may be a little more willing to experiment on stage with more looks, just because when I'm on stage, it's fantasy; I want to bring people into a different world. When I'm walking on the street, it's still fantasy because I want to be a walking movie. But it's just a little more toned down because I gotta be able to get around and have conversations with people. If they're distracted by my outfit, sometimes it's a hassle. So it's a little more formal, but still low key a costume.
There's this one pair of pants you wear with stars that's very Evel Knievel. Where do you even get that? Who are your influences?
Well, Evel Knievel was the influence for those pants, and I made those pants myself.
Oh, no way!
Yeah, I always felt like Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, and all those icons had staples. Jimi Hendrix had a very psychedelic style with bellbottom pants and he always wore his hair in an afro. Michael Jackson would only wear one pair of jeans, which a lot of people don't know. He didn't own a lot of jeans or shoes. He had one pair of loafers that he danced in. Gucci would send him loafers, and he wouldn't wear them because he couldn't dance in them. So he wore his worn-in loafers and his Levi's 501's and tailored them to a T. He also wore white socks so you could see his dance movements on stage. These are the little wardrobe things that made these people who they are. When Bowie turned into Stardust, he had these amazing androgynous outfits. That's what I think about when I'm creating style for myself, especially when it comes to my costumes. I call them a costume, but I really wear those pants everywhere.
How do those Evel Knievel pants in particular reflect who you are as an artist and a person?
I'm straight stuntin'.
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