If there are two things rapper Wiz Khalifa is known for besides his music, they’d have to be his love of weed and his creative sense of style. Whether in a Twitter feud with Kanye West or in a music video for one of his chart-topping hits, Khalifa’s affinity for fashion is never out of sight.
It is unsurprising, then, that the “Black and Yellow” hitmaker was tapped for award-winning menswear brand Rag & Bone’s latest campaign. Entitled the “Men’s Project,” the campaign features iconic culture-makers like Mark Hamill, John Turturro and Mikhail Baryshnikov, shot on Super 8 film in settings chosen by the subjects themselves.
Billboard chatted with co-CEO Marcus Wainwright about the brand’s relationship with Wiz, and why British tailoring makes sense on a kush-loving rapper.
What makes the Men’s Project unique?
We’ve been trying to do stuff differently to the classic campaign, of some top model in an unrealistic environment, because I don’t think that resonates with people as much as it used to. We gave the subjects a lot of control of the image. They styled themselves, they chose the location and what they wanted to do in the picture. It was about shooting them the way they see themselves — but they just happened to be wearing Rag & Bone — as opposed to being all about us.
What drew you to Wiz specifically for this campaign?
We were trying to find people who had forged their own path, and had a very strong sense of their own personal style. And that’s certainly true of him. It was also a natural extension of the relationship we had with him, after doing some clothes for his tour and dressing him for the Met Ball. He was all over the press for that; he was wearing a white tuxedo we made, and he owned it. It really highlighted how good something classic and well-made can make anyone look. We do a lot of tailoring and custom suiting, because I grew up in England wearing tailor-made stuff.
Where do you see Wiz’s audience and Rag & Bone’s audience overlapping?
I think people get very caught up in fashion with asking “Who’s your guy, what’s your demographic?” Rag & Bone has nothing to do with any of that. Our approach to clothing is about the authenticity of the people wearing it and the authenticity of the clothing. We tried to instill that into not just the clothes, but the people we chose and the process of the image. It’s not really about fashion or who’s cool at the moment. It’s not about fame or notoriety; it’s about a point of view. We were drawn to people who have protected their integrity by staying completely authentic to who they are, and we felt that with Wiz.
You mentioned that all of the subjects picked their own locations to be shot in for this campaign. Where did you shoot Wiz?
We just shot in places where people felt comfortable. We shot him at Brooklyn Bowl, a bowling alley, in quite formal British tailoring. It’s not the sort of thing you’d normally see him in, but he looks solid and genuine.
What has been your favorite part of working with Wiz?
When you’re working on a full-on “pay-to-play” campaign it’s not really the same connection. But when the subjects are personally invested in it, and very excited about the process and loving the pictures and how they look, it’s very gratifying.