Young Thug's Revolutionary Hip-Hop Fashion: 'When It Comes to Swag, There's No Gender Involved'

Ramona Rosales
Young Thug photographed on Aug. 28, 2016  at Lightbox Studio in Los Angeles. 

On the cover of his new mixtape, Jeffery — which recently debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 — Young Thug wears a ruffled periwinkle gown, an image that sums up the inventive rapper’s approach to fashion: “When it comes to swag,” he says, “there’s no gender involved.” He has worn a frock with trousers for Calvin Klein’s 2016 global campaign, a skinny tracksuit for Puma’s Classics collection, and, soon, he’ll don another statement gown, for his wedding to swimwear designer Jerrika Karlae (“There will be two brides,” he says).

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While his Jeffery look — geisha couture meets Mortal Kombat’s Raiden — isn’t exactly the get-up you’d expect on a face-tattooed Atlanta MC, it works on the 25-year-old rapper who’s known for barking and squawking between spitting lines about guns, sex and drugs. “When I seen that dress,” he says, “I felt like God gave it to me.”

Sitting in a Los Angeles studio in tight jeans and chains wrapped around his neck like pearls, Young Thug recalls the seeds of his sartorial rebellion. “When I was 12, my feet were so small I wore my sisters’ glitter shoes. My dad would whoop me: ‘You’re not going to school now, you’ll embarrass us!’ But I never gave a f— what people think.”

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Now, he has more fans than critics (“People like, ‘Man, you changed my life’ ”), plus collaborators who understand his nonconformist vision — like Jeffery gown creator Alessandro Trincone. “Whoever he is, he ain’t regular,” says Young Thug of the designer. “The n—a reminds me of me.” 

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 17 issue of Billboard.