It was the 19-year-old Atlanta rapper's first month on the job as the brand's new creative director, but this season he was just in town to take notes—and pictures. It won't be until this fall that we can expect something with his stamp on it.
Before Lil Yachty arrived, Nautica's active creative director, Steve McSween, had been showing the collection to those editors and buyers interested in the clothes. But once the rapper walked in, all eyes (and iPhones) were on him.
"Who is this?" asked one fashion photographer, who clearly wasn't anticipating such frenzy.
"Something boat," responded another.
Like any good teenager, Lil Yachty never lets lack of exposure or experience keep him from having an opinion. And he proceeded to walk around the Nautica presentation on Wednesday arm-in-arm with the brand's president, Karen Murray, whispering in her ear his two cents about each of the looks as a crowd of awestruck fans followed him around.
This wasn't Lil Yachty's first fashion week. He made his debut on the Madison Square Garden stage for Kayne West's Yeezy Season 3 show last winter. And this wasn't his first rodeo with the brand, either. The last time we spoke he stuck his hand down his Nautica boxer shorts and said with a yawn, "I just want to be mainstream." Almost a year later, he was still on course.
"Basically, they gotta be more open," said Lil Yachty of his corporate sailing team. "They took me to the showroom and it was nice stuff, but it catered to only like, 30-year-old men." He then corrected himself: "30-year-old white men." Meanwhile, white men in suits and ties were pushing through the crowd to shake his hand.
Murray smiled: "How great is he?"
This is precisely why Nautica hired the self-proclaimed "King of the Youth"—to help them win the hearts, minds, and wallets of a younger and more diverse consumer. And he's already got a plan: "To capture the youth, you need color," said Lil Yachty. "You need to be bold—like, out there."
For Fall, the company is already heeding his advice, and the collection this season was a combination of '90s nautical prep and classic hip-hop, complete with bucket hats, track pants, and brightly-colored windbreakers. Overall, it seemed like an attempt to compete with other sportswear brands like Fila, Kappa, Adidas, Puma, and Reebok—all of which are having their own '90s revival. But can someone born in 1997 successfully remind his generation of a decade they hardly knew?
Well, Lil Yachty seems to know what's up. "Old stuff is back in," he said. When asked to elaborate on why he thought this was, though, he got real serious: "Well, history repeats itself." Unfortunately, he was not wrong.
Watch Lil Yachty take New York City in the coolest designer fashions, below.