Saying that Kanye West takes fashion designing seriously is a ridiculous understatement. He has very strong feelings about every facet of the industry (and points them out often). But not everyone in the business is buying into the baggy sweats and printed sneakers he’s selling (the latest attack on Yeezy came this week from Tim Gunn).
So in a new interview with W magazine West explains the tense relationship he has with the fashion industry big-wigs by comparing it to four children’s movies: Wreck-It Ralph, The Pursuit of Happyness, Despicable Me and Elf. To make it less confusing, we broke down his thoughts by film for your reading pleasure (?). We can’t guarantee that it will make any more sense to you, but we can promise you will have your newest catchphrase (“I will f–king laser you with alien f–king eyes”) by the end of the article.
On Wreck-It Ralph:
He explains that even though Yeezy is a “leading trendsetting brand now” he had “little to no support on the apparel side” which is why he did a deal with Adidas. “And I basically still had to do the apparel in L.A. and build my own atelier and get consultants and build a team.” Now here comes the movie parallel: “Penelope puts together her car? And she’s like, ‘Made it myself,’ and everybody that has professional cars, they say, ‘Look at you with your little car and you’re going to do this,’ and then they break her car, right? That’s basically the fashion world to me.”
He explains that Renzo Rosso or [LVMH chairman] Bernard Arnault or [Kering chief executive François-Henri] Pinault would shut down his ideas when he brought his “little car” around so he took to Twitter to explain his situation. “Basically it would be like that moment in Wreck-It Ralph, to the point where this year I literally tweeted after doing a fashion show, ‘Hey, I’m $53 million in debt’.”
And to anyone who doesn’t believe that he’s in debt, he says it’s not for you to believe. He put “every dime” into his business and employees, and clarifies: “the people who know what the f–k I’m talking about know what the f–k I’m talking about. So I refuse people who write me off as some rich kid taking a hobby, fashion as a f–king hobby or a fashion plate.”
To really put it much more clearly: “I will f–king laser you with alien f–king eyes [editor’s note: like at the Met Gala, below?] and explode your f–king head. Shut the f–k up – try to write a rap. Okay then. I made this f–king T-shirt, now shut up. And it cost me everything I had and I gave everything I had.”
On The Pursuit of Happyness:
He compares himself to Chris Gardner as played by Will Smith. “Okay, do you know when he was trying to sell the bone density machines? That was like me meeting with the head of [the fashion manufacturing and licensing company] Staff International and I’m like showing him things that I think can, could be considered to be a breakthrough thing, ‘Like, look at these, you know?'”
On Despicable Me:
He compares himself to Felonius Gru. (For full context, just watch this clip.) “And his relationship with his mom? ‘Hey mom, I built this rocket ship.’ Whatever. That’s how it is. I’m talking to a guy who’s the head of a production facility [Staff International] but a really good one because they do [Maison] Margiela and all that and I’m like, ‘Look, I built this rocket ship.’ You know, it’s like I built this amount of followers, we did this certain color palette, we did this, blah, blah, blah. That I designed this, you know, the cool summer shoe with [Giuseppe] Zanotti, and it’s this top-selling shoe. Or I did this shoe with Nike and it was their top-selling shoe and these guys will just look and be like, ‘No,’ but they didn’t realize, like Penelope [we’re back to Wreck-It-Ralph], she’s like, ‘I won a race just like you guys.'”
“I’m the elf that’s Will Ferrell, that’s too big for his hands to make the toys. But he wants to make the toys. Why? Not just so he could play with them, but he wants to bring joy to the world. I am a creator and it’s my responsibility. There is no amount of money, like as I tell my managers right now, ‘What is your opinion of success?’ So many people look at success is just like having money. True, not having money can be a sign of a lack of success and also can deter you from being successful at other things that you do, but if you take guys like LVMH and like Kering, they might only have two or three businesses that are actually profitable and they all work together, but they are successful at taking brands that mean something to people.”
So if you’re trying to make sense of this interview, good luck. But the main takeaway can be that though he makes the “number one requested Christmas present of 2015 Christmas, going into 2016, the f–king Yeezy,” he hasn’t actually reached success yet.
And when the reporter tried to explain that making a best-selling shoe can be viewed as a major win, he actually got upset with the reporter: “I wouldn’t say that you’re on my side. I wouldn’t say that anyone in fashion is on my side. I don’t think there’s anyone on my side.” (Even the NFL turned on him after he gifted players Yeezy cleats and Texans’ DeAndre Hopkins was fined $6,000 for wearing them in a game.)
Is he confident in convincing anyone? Not likely. “I’m saying that to this date they do not understand who I am. They will not understand until after I’m gone. I am misunderstood and there is no one in fashion that’s on my side. Because if that’s the case, then take me and say, ‘Here’s your 80 people that work for you and here’s a straight up, honest deal for it.'”
If you need him, he’ll most likely be working on that rocket ship.