About, And For, The Culture
So so so many of you people like fashion. Or well, you like "fashion". I put it into quotations because now adays it's so easy to look at something and be like "damn that's fashion being fashion" or I even see stupid shit online and i'm like "fashion strikes again". Maybe you think your instagram icons are "fashion oriented" or "fashion forward". Most of the time you might be right but most of the time you're wrong. Supreme isn't fashion. If your favorite brand is Palace, you might not know too too much about the real world of "fashion".
The important thing I want to get across is that it's not about FASHION. Let me tell you right now; Fashion Is For Adults With Money. Why? Read the next paragraph. But this is about culture.
That's a word that gets thrown around a lot, and mentioned in memes and stupid FourPins tweets and Hypebeast clickbait posts, but I want you to learn about it.
For me, I jumped into this internet world at the right time. I always say I was a few months late because I was never walking around SoHo in New York with Ian Connor and I was never making $75,000 at age 17 off embroidered hats like Austin Butts and Gianni Mora, but this whole "culture" thing started and was curated over the past two to three years. For a lot of you kids, and a lot of people in general, it's all new to you. That's the point of this, to kind of highlight where it started from, and show you the big players in it. CULTURE, as it is, is what brings you to this blog. OHKAY is created because we made a culture out of it. Being a teenager and being able to have internet friends around the world proves that culture expanded out of New York, out of LA, out of Paris, and reached the world, all through Instagram.
Culture, for me, is understanding the scene from head to toe. From Virgil, Ye, Ian, DONDA, Raf, Rick Owens, Shane Gonzales with Midnight, all the way through the body of it, being kids like me with OHKAY, Leo with Gully, The Basement Team, Gianni with Helder Vices, Tyler Grosso with Superrradical and all these other internet kid owned brands, all the way down to understanding how it effects you guys and how it shapes the next upcoming culture.
Culture isn't defined by an age group, either. Culture is what makes my friend Leo (Gully Guy Leo) act like he's 18 and make money like he's 25, yet still walk around in his 14 year old body. Culture is why kids like Asspizza at seventeen was scamming the internet for $75K off of a dat hat. Gianni too. Culture is why no one really got their money back when they got scammed by these people. Culture is how Ian Connor put a Midnight hoodie on Kylie and the resell value of it doubled. Culture is why VLONE sells for $250 a hoodie, and why people buy it. Culture is why Ian just put a lightning bolt on a vans shoe and it sold out in a minute. Culture is why I'm working on a Converse shoe right now. It's that youth world. The teenage industry. It's the underlying fact that I can teach you guys how to create better, more efficiently, and easier in an hour, than your highschool teachers could teach you in a semester. It's the idea that you have people you look up to, and when they share their interests, you start buying and feeding into them too. Ian Connor has old Raf Simmons graphics tattood all over his body. When I saw those, I started liking Raf. I'll be honest, that's how it went. But Culture is also why I have the ability to give back, and teach you guys stuff like this. Because this is the stuff that most 18 year olds don't understand. I can't say to a kid in my class "did you see that new virgil piece?". They won't understand. It's hard to find people that truly understand this stuff. So I'm going to try to talk about it.
Fashion is whack. Fashion is the reason why kids spend $1500 on one Vetements hoodie. Fashion is the reason why if you wore that $1500 Vetements hoodie two years ago, you'd look like you were homeless. Fashion is why kids in New York are spending $1000 on an outfit but are freaking out because they can't pay rent. Fashion is why kids lose their friends and make their new ones. It happened to me, i'm sure it's happened to a few other people too. Fashion taught me everything. Well, Streetwear did. Streetwear opened the doors and down the hall was Fashion. I had to look for it, but once I found it I loved it. Truthfully, I learned a lot of stuff from Ian. I know a lot of kids of my bracket did. Ian pioneered the whole "youth fashion" stuff. A lot of you are probably too young to have been around for that era, but it was in like 2015 when Ian was basically creating a culture out of fashion. Raf Simmons, Rick Owens, all that stuff. Rocky, too, through his music. Rocky was rapping about Goyard in 2014 before any "soundcloud rapper" cashed out the Goyard store for a music video.
But for you people that didn't know a lot of this, here's a few interviews that I really really like that touch on fashion a lot, and explain true meanings behind brands.
You still need to understand the most important thing: Fashion is run by Brands, and Brands are what control the mind.
Raf Simmons is a brand. Raf Simmons has the power with that brand name to sell a $500 white tee shirt. Why do fashion people buy it? It's Raf. It's that emotional connection. It's that "i want to spend my money on this because I want to feel a part of it".
So, take some time and really indulge in these.
I want to start out with this video, because it's Virgil talking about Off White, but also touching upon the idea of "streetwear and its' cycles". This came out in the beginning of my senior year and I used to watch it in class over and over again on my computer. You can see Ian and Luka spinning on chairs. This was around the time when this culture thing was really growing and expanding, and Ian and Luka were really breaking past the point of being instagram entities and growing into being a part of this "fashion world" that we're all apart of. It's quick, but it's a good introduction. It's crazy because I used to say this quote all the time, and it's true. People back in the day used to collect LV and now the kids like myself are out here with $20,000 worth of Supreme in the closet. Also it's funny because a year and a half later, Supreme and LV did a full collaboration together. Really listen to this. This is really inspiring for me, and forever will be. Everything he says in this pushes me to be the best influence I possibly can for people like you, reading this and learning from it.
"Supreme is my Louis Vuitton. This, to me, is a Margiela of our time"
One of the most iconic moments in clothes and culture for me was Yeezy Season Two. This was when Kanye was in his prime in my opinion. Everything about this is so incredible. The way it all worked, the implicit messages, the meaning behind it. In the beginning you start to see it formulate as a military camp reference. Over the duration of the presentation, you start to see that the skin tone of the models represents the outfits, the tones they portray, and the emotions they bring to the show. Ian is seen smoking a cigarette in the show after him and Luka walk out together. It is something worth observing and studying. There's no HD version of it because it was only shown in theaters but it's one of my favorite shows of all time.
"Young architects can change the world by not building buildings"
Below is a video featuring Virgil Abloh, it was a talk he did at Colombia University. If you didn't know, Virgil Abloh is one of the largest forces in this "youth culture" world. Virgil, back in the day, right around the time that I got into this fashion stuff, was making a brand called Been Trill. He was just printing random pieces and doing "internet wave" type stuff. It was really cool. It was kind of childish, but it was sick. He started off by making Pyrex, which he talks about in the video. Pyrex kind of started the whole "I'm going to buy a blank flannel, screenprint on it, and sell it as my own" before any of the brands started doing that from a Brand Point Of View. Virgil also has been a driving force on the DONDA team. If you don't know what Donda is, look it up. It's Kanye's Creative Team. Named after Kanye's mother, Donda West. Donda is basically made up of eight incredibly talented, somewhat hidden figures. Each and every person has been on the team since the start. Virgil has been the head creative director but just over the past five years has grown to be the famous Virgil Abloh that he is. But he designed the Yeezy shoes. Kanye doesn't design any of that stuff, it's all Virgil. The point of Branding is that the creative team makes it, and they put it under the Yeezy label, because that's a brand with so much power. Anyways, Virgil is one of the coolest DJ's (and smartest, too). I've seen him live in New York at the VLONE Fashion Week Party and he just knows how to understand the vibe, and continue creating it.
So we already know Virgil at this point. You just learned in the Colombia interview who he is, the meaning of Off White, and his attitude and aspirations. Here, we get introduced to another person I really admire: Heron Preston. He's the guy in the Pablo longsleeve. This was at Art Basel which was a crazy event in December. I missed it because I was in London but it was one of the biggest things to happen this year. I think this is a cool interview because they take a step back from "fashion", and they focus on culture. These are the people, the tier, the bracket, that shapes culture. Heron Preston did a collection (which virgil talks about in the colombia video) which made New York City Department Of Works clothing cool. Like reflective workwear. The stuff that trashmen wear. He made it look cool. And every time I see it now in the street, in Boston or Chicago or New York, I think about how he influenced me to look at it in better light. These guys are the reason I love clothes so much. They create what is loved, and for that, I look up to them.
"WHETHER YOU PARTICIPATE IN CULTURE OR NOT, IT'S ALWAYS RECORDING. THE RED LIGHT IS ALWAYS ON."
So branching off from Virgil, I think it's really important to talk about the Ian and Shane interview. This interview is really cool because it's not very often that Ian will talk on camera, and this came out in a time where No Jumper was just starting to get big. Actually, this and another video that will come later were two of the reasons No Jumper popped off like it has. But in this, Ian and Shane talk about so many things, from Midnight to Raf. Which is cool because we'll see Ian in a discussion interveiw about Raf in a more professional light in a few scrolls. But this is an interview I can watch over and over again. And if you wanna skip around it and not watch it all, look at the bio of the video for the breakdown of topics. It's really important to listen to interviews about people you love because you get to learn so much about them and it's really really important to understand someone that you look up to beyond just instagram and twitter, so to hear them talk, it's like you can appreciate them so much more.
Sticking to No Jumper, because No Jumper truly is the best podcast out right now, I think it's important to put this in.
If you didn't know, Yachty became a "famous celebrity" in March/April of last year. Ian Connor is the reason Yachty blew up, which is spoken on in this interview below. Ian is the reason that Yachty was the one in the Yeezy Season Three show, then the world saw his face. Now, he's a Target, Sprite, and Nautica embassador. In this, he hadn't blown up yet. Yachty says "Souncloud the only way I put stuff out" which I love to go back and hear, because now Apple is paying him millions to make Apple Exclusive stuff. It's true that Yachty is one of the faces for the youth at this point, and he might not be into "fashion" like that, but he's still a huge face for the youth and the culture. He talks about how Ian found him, how he found Coach K, how he blew up on soundcloud, becoming "Lil Boat", getting shut down by Carti before he blew up, looking up to Gucci mane, and more. The breakdown is below but i think it's dope to listen to this.
"Yachty Gonna Be A Brand!" - Coach K
A big event for culture was Yeezy Season Three. I can talk on this first hand because I was there on the floor and I got to shoot photos of the event. This was a big day. Kanye basically told the world "It's fashion week, i'm showing my Yeezy Season Three". But it was more than that. What he did was rent out Madison Square Garden, sell it entirely out, and make it a listening party for the album The Life Of Pablo. It was like no other event i've ever been to in my entire life. It was surreal. There's no good youtube video of all of it with audio, but watch this below. Basically Kanye had the entire world watching. Everyone was signing up for Tidal because of it. Everyone was tuning in. They saw this new image that turned into being "Lil Yachty", they saw Ian, they heard the new Thug song, they saw the "fashion show" but they saw the party that Kanye created. At the 44 minute point when everyone's dancing you can see me in front of Kanye like a little down and to the left in a fur hooded coat dancing around. This was a crazy time. The importance of this was that it WASN'T a fashion show, it was a way for Kanye to be like "guess what, I'm going to sell out MSG and the entire world is going to love my new album".
Moving onto kind of the founding father to the entire ASAP thing, and the big brother to Ian, is an interview session that Rocky did at Oxford University. It's pretty long but Rocky speaks on protests against brutality, his major label being the internet, signing with RCA in 2011, tumblr helping them blow up, the importance of the internet as a platform, working in the grime scene to make ALLA album, and being inspired by London.
"You don't need a big label to get exposure, you just need the biggest platform in the world right now: the Internet"
So as far as "culture" goes, it's all a big timeline of all the big people creating big things and paving the way for a lot of the other people below their brackets. Over the summer, Theopolous London was saying some bad stuff about Ian on Twitter about how he "put ian on" then when Ian surpassed him, he gave no homage and all that. Ian wasn't having it, and at the VLONE x Off White store in Paris at Collette, Ian decided to punch Theo. Bari beat Ian up in the street and this was the first time there was solidified beef between Ian and Bari. It was a weak punch, but that's Ian being Ian. This is what started the beef:
"Don't Act Like You All Hollywood"
Since all of this went down, there has been a public feud between Ian and Bari, mostly on twitter. Ian leaked the news that VLONE was printed on GILDAN after Bari announced he'll never like Ian again. Ian over time has tweeted about how he wants to forever be friends with Bari and how he always looked up to him and stuff. If you know this beef, you know what i'm talking about. When Bari first previewed the VLONE Nike Air Force 1, Ian tweeted "Now I gotta to make a shoe". Guess what, that's what drove him to make the Revenge Storm shoes, aka a Vans shoe with a lightning bolt.
This interview below came out a month or two ago and I think it's really sad because of that bracket, it was really bad that this happened. So to see them all friendly and talking about the future is unique and you won't ever find that in a different setting.
"We're all a family. That's what it is. Family"
Now I am moving into one of the last pieces, which shows the evolution of it all, and brings Ian into a panel of real fashion enthusiasts. There's this panel called Show Studio and they basically are one of the most highly credible panels and they asked Ian to be a part of it to judge the Raf Simmons Calvin Klein show. Raf, over the past year, has taken over as CK creative director. Click THIS to go to the page to watch the CK show during NYFW and below is the panel discussion about it. I think it's unique because they talk about how the BRAND of Raf influenced their opinion on it.
"I don't know how I'd feel about it if it wasn't by Raf. Maybe that's the fun of fashion"
Before I close this out I just want to speak on something really quick. This article was up for about twelve hours and I got a comment on it (i'm going to leave the comment up below so you can read it and see what i'm referring to). It was something about how the kid who commented doesn't think I should talk about of associate with "ian because he doesn't want the brand to be ruined by that". But I just want to point something out. Ian Connor is the reason that this internet wave exists. Ian is the reason that there IS a platform out there for kids to make clothes. Ian is the reason the first kids ever started making clothes, getting their clothes on rappers, and setting high price margins. Ian is the reason for so much stuff that trickles down into every day streetwear culture, a lot of kids just weren't around back in the day to witness all of that. You can hate Ian, that's cool. I don't hangout with Ian. I just worked with him in the past and I still admire a lot of things that he does, because without him I would have never learned a lot of the behind the scenes information and mindset to a lot of this stuff. A lot of stuff was said about Ian over the past few months, and the only person to really speak on it was Rocky. Complex sums it up pretty well, and I'm not here to be Complex because that's Complex's job, but click HERE to read that. It's a good interview but it's pretty long. In it, Rocky says
"On top of all that, I feel like when you treat people mean and you do things like fuck girls and you never call them back, you give ‘em a reason to be like, ‘Man, fuck this ni**a. I hate this ni**a.’ If you realize, he never went to jail for that. Never been arrested. Never been charged. It’s all word of mouth shit. There’s evidence of girls talking about a week before they did this, talking about, ‘Oh, I’m not fucking ni**as for free no more. I’m about my business this year.’ Pull the tweets up. Y’all know what it is. And this can happen to any of y’all. Be careful and treat women nice."
Not to piggyback off of what Rocky said too hard, but the girl who initially claimed that Ian raped her, months later went online to talk about how it wasn't really assult and how they straightened things out. So you can say you don't like Ian, you can not like Ian. That is totally cool. I just needed to include that in here because before the end of 2016 when all of that arose, Ian Connor was the King Of The Youth. That's something that every kid of my age bracket knows and trusted. Ian is the reason a lot of this shit exists in today's world of "fashion", if you know it or not. And he's not a bad dude, he's just a fucking weirdo.
For me, I've always watched the people of this culture and i've seen it unfold over the past two years. It's only over the past year that I got really involved in it, traveling and meeting everyone on the internet but it's crazy to see how the people above are the ones who are literally riting the culture and writing the bible for this "fashion" and "streetwear" world. It goes a lot beyond them, but they're the ones that really made an impact for me. I talk about Ian a lot because ever since I was younger, he was one of my biggest inspirations. I guess it all came full circle when i was 17 back in Boston, I booked Carti and Ian for a show and I got to pick them up at the airport and kick it with them for the entire day. I learned a lot about them and a lot about myself. That was the time when I learned that even the people I looked up to and loved, they were just people, too. They wear pants and tie their shoes and just know how to use the internet to their advantage. It was cool, but it was a good realization point for me. Ian told me that the most important thing to do is to inspire the kids of the culture. By being yourself, all of that is possible. That's why I go out every day and do everything I can to inspire kids because realistically my job is to continue making products for this brand, and selling them to you guys, so that I can expand and grow this brand, but my real goal every day when I wake up is to inspire at least one kid because if I inspire a kid a day, I'm doing my job correctly.