There is plenty to look at in Jason Derulo’s new video for “Swalla,” from dancers twerking and splashing around in shallow water, to the “Derulo” lollipops, Twinkies and other treats that line a fantasy candy shop. Plus fur coats, crowns, body paint and vodka—not to mention Nicki Minaj perched on a banana-yellow chair in a dizzying rainbow room, wearing a latex bikini and mirrored visor sunglasses, doing her best impression of a modern-day Willy Wonka.
Derulo, meanwhile, wears an ombre clear-to-black long raincoat and camo-print bomber jacket, designs that are actually his own and part of a new collection of menswear called LVL XIII (pronounced Level Thirteen). The singer collaborated with designer Antonio Brown on the 20-piece collection, which will debut at Bloomingdale’s in August. “We just hit it off instantly. We kind of had this weird same wavelength,” says Derulo of Brown at the editor preview that the two held Monday night at Tao in New York City. The duo met after the singer wore a pair of the designer’s sneakers for a performance. “I was like, ‘Man, I’ve got to find this guy. I really want to see what he’s doing,’” Derulo says.
The result of their collaboration is 20-plus pieces (priced from $250-$500) that Derulo and Brown identify as “transformative luxury,” and includes standouts like the camo bomber ($495), which transforms into a backpack. “I think that consumer is not easily fooled. They want to be intrigued, but they also want value,” says Derulo. “It’s not corny because it looks dope.” The “Swalla” raincoat (from $400) also transforms into a shorter version of itself by way of a zippered panel. “I feel like I’m upgraded,” says Derulo of the pieces. “I feel like my sexy is on a different level, I really do.”
Other pieces are less utilitarian, though, like a white shirt with a pouch strapped to the center, which is actually unremovable and too high to even be worn as a fanny pack (with or without irony). And yet another shirt, lined with two panels of buttons instead of one (allowing the center placket to me removed so as to be worn open) would only be suitable for men who visit the gym with the same frequency as the singer.
But for those who actually do, the athleisure-like pieces will strike a chord naturally. “I don’t think it’s a brand I have to shove down people’s throats,” he says. “I always want to step back and allow people to, you know, just try it for themselves. I’ll wear it, of course, because I love it myself. It’s a brand that stands on it’s own.”