Kanye West Claims Fashion Favors Gay Men In SHOWstudio Interview
Well, it looks like this normally shy rapper is finally coming out of his shell a little. Just kidding, guys: Kim K's husband will likely always have a lot to say about (basically) everything. In his Oct. 7 interview with SHOWstudio, Kanye West had some pretty wild thoughts on the fashion industry and where he does — or does not — fit into it.
The nearly two-hour long video interview — which is chock full of delicious soundbites, outrageous claims, and fascinating parallels that you probably have to be Kanye to truly understand — comes on the heels of his New York Fashion Week presentation in Sept. 2015, during which he showed his second collection for Yeezy x Adidas.
Kanye has been receiving a lot of flak for the show in the weeks since. Critics have called the styling and choreography gimmicky and militarized, the clothing was summed up as glorified Spanx by others, and even the seating chart was picked apart when people noticed that West's sister-in-law Kendall Jenner was sitting second row, not first.
The rapper-turned-designer offered up reflections on why he thinks the fashion industry and society at large just don't get him. In true Kanye style, he did not hold back.
Kanye made serious waves with one comment in particular, which quickly spread across the Internet like wildfire. "I feel like I got discriminated in fashion for not being gay. In music, you definitely get discriminated if you are gay. It takes amazing talents to break down barriers. Everyone thought that when Frank Ocean dropped that it was going to be bad for his career. The people that break the stereotypes make history."
On its own, the remark arguably came across as majorly whiny, and simply untrue. Especially when you consider industry mainstays like Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Rick Owens, and dozens of others who identify as straight. To be fair, though, West actually isn't the only person to have made such a remark about the sartorial world. In a New York Times piece titled "In Fashion, Who Really Gets Ahead," designer Tara Subkoff said that fashion "is a gay man's profession." (Side note: Is it just a coincidence that her line was called "Imitation of Christ" while Kanye calls himself Yeezus?)
Elsewhere in the NYTimes article, designer Liz Collins had the following to say:
"There are some really deep-seated tensions and resentment that [have] existed for a long time about gender in fashion and who gets things. A lot of those things are not necessarily real, or true, and they may be just suspicions. But you can look at certain examples of people who have had a faster rise to stardom, and the percentage of gay men is higher."
Dana Bachman echoed the same sentiment later on. "I don't show up in the fashion press a lot. If you look at who is touted in the fashion press, it is overwhelmingly young gay men," she said. While the article didn't offer any clean stats about sexuality in the industry, writer Eric Wilson noted that "the Council of Fashion Designers of America [...] is made up of 121 women and 156 men. Since 1986 its annual Perry Ellis awards for young talent have been given to eight women and 29 men (20 of them openly gay)."
Bustle has reached out to Kanye's publicist for comment and will update this article if a response is received.
That's not all Kanye had to say in the interview, though. Here are just a few more thoughts from the beautiful mind of Yeezus. Some are cray, some are soulful, but all are totally Kanye.
1. On Yeezy Boost 350 Critics.
On the poor response to the Adidas Yeezy Boost 350s, which in reality did remarkably well (they sold out in 12 minutes and are being resold on eBay for exorbitant sums many times what the shoes originally cost), Kanye had this to say: "Anyone that's criticizing most likely saw the 350s and acted like they didn't like them because they're racist and discriminatory."
2. On The Very Real Issue Of Celebrity Discrimination
"[The fashion industry is] not only racist against black people, they discriminate against celebrities, people with multiple art forms," he said in the SHOWstudio interview. Months earlier, Kanye tweeted a similar sentiment, calling fame "something I had to overcome."
This may arguably have some truth to it, but one can immediately call to mind successful celebs-turned-designers like Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Victoria Beckham, and even Jessica Simpson, who all have veritable fashion empires.
Within the hip hop realm, Russell Simmons founded Phat Farm, Jay-Z had a great run with Rocawear, Puff Daddy killed it with Sean John, and Pharrell is dominating with Billionaire Boys Club and his collabs with labels like G-Star RAW. None of the aforementioned male designers identify as gay, by the way, so that seems to further invalidate West's claim that there is straight-discrimination in fashion.
3. On Fashion Being The Greatest Art
"The highest art form is actually fashion," he said, and I'm actually going to side with West here.
4. On Trying To Break Into The Fashion Industry
"With me when I work on fashion, I'm sitting here in the woods trying to chop down trees, screaming at the top of my lungs, 'Can somebody just throw me some water,' and everyone's sitting laughing at me. That's the fashion world. That's the critics." It's a tough industry, man.
5. On Comparing Himself To Jesus
West has compared himself to Jesus, Michelangelo, Walt Disney, and Beethoven, and the reason why is actually pretty heartfelt. "I have to define who I am," he said in the beginning of the interview. This is, IMO, perhaps one of the most poignant messages to come from West's mouth, and one that makes sense in any realm, sartorial or otherwise. "All of my aspirations are currently only things that 60-year-old white people do, so I have to define and let people know who I am."
The message itself is brilliant, but as with a lot of West's best work, it gets overshadowed by his own flashy brand of showmanship.
But hey, he's just being Kanye.