Men’s fashion week got a whole lot more Fabolous this year.
The Brooklyn-born rapper, 39, who has been a fixture at the designer runway shows in recent years, has been tapped by the Council of Fashion Designers of America to be an official ambassador this year. Billboard caught up with the self-described “casually fly” stylish recording artist as he was about to embark on his official duties —attending shows and taking over the CFDA’s social media among them.
How did this ambassadorship come about?
I’ve been going to the shows for a couple years and we had a relationship from that. They came to me about being an ambassador for the week. I was honored. It includes a lot more than just going to the shows. I’m getting to make connections with the designers, go to fittings and see a lot of behind the scenes stuff that I’m going to explore and share with my social following, and theirs as well.
What shows are you most looking forward to?
I’m definitely excited about the John Elliott show, the Raf Simons show and I always support Tim Coppens — I think he’s doing a presentation for a book launch, I thought that was interesting. I also met the guys Shimon and Ariel from Ovadia & Sons. It was funny meeting them, because they had so much history with my music. They’re from Brooklyn, they kind of grew up in same time, environment and background as me, and we had a lot of things in common. I can’t wait to see what their show’s going to be like.
What were the circumstances of your meeting with them?
We were doing a fitting; I was getting fit with some of the stuff for the show to come. I was there for that, but we ended up talking for about an hour, outside of the fashion world. They pulled out a photo album and showed me stuff from them growing up. We also put together a couple of outfits. We did a shearling look and a parka look and a few different layers underneath each one. They showed me a lot of stuff they’ve got going, and it’s really cool, it’s casually fly stuff. That’s the kind of lane that I try to keep my fashion usually in — not too uppity, not too out of the norm, but little touches that make it special.
What are the perks of ambassadorship?
It’s more about the relationships that are built through the ambassadorship. Of course, you get to go to the shows. But I think the relationship with CFDA is going to be a great partnership. Me connecting to their social and vice versa, you kind of cross-promote to two different worlds and share the experience on both sides. That’s a big perk for me.
Is your following very interested in fashion week?
Some are. I’m sure for some it’ll be new to them, they might not be familiar with some of the brands. That’s one of the cool aspects to it: people getting educated, getting to share their opinion of what they’re seeing — whether it’s their cup of tea or not. It’s cultural, overall. People need culture.
Music and fashion go hand in hand. And a lot of musicians have fashion lines today, whether it’s Kanye West’s Yeezy line or Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma. Do you have any interest in designing?
I would definitely love to go in that field. I’d love to fill a void, and challenge myself a little bit and see how far I can push my ideas.
What might it look like?
If I was doing something in streetwear, I’d try to find some things that cross the lines of streetwear with other lanes in fashion. Streetwear is pretty comfortable. But I think it can also touch different places as well; the partnership of streetwear can be stretched a little bit. Kids growing up now wear streetwear and love high end, and change their look around a bit but still keep it as comfortable as streetwear. If I was doing a brand I would come off of that spin, and just try to mix a bunch of the worlds. That’s where my fashion comes from; it comes from versatility. You can mix and manage different things.
How likely is it that you will do a fashion line?
I’ve had a couple things come to me, in terms of doing some capsule lines. I love collaborations because I love the mixture of the minds. People get excited to see what comes of it, even if they don’t like what comes of it. Even just the story of Wow, what is this Louis Vuitton and Supreme going to be? What is this Moncler and Off-White going to be like?
Who would be your dream collab partner?
I’d love to do some collabs with Ronnie Fieg at Kith. He’s one of the guys who’s taken streetwear, comfortable, casual fly stuff and done a really good job, with great quality in the stuff that he brings to the table. He’s not really looked at as a high-end guy, and he’s not trying to be a high-end guy. He just tries to make dope stuff. I like the way he approaches collaborations.
What’s your first show of the week?
My fashion week starts today (Jan. 31) around 10-10:30am at the Nick Graham show. I want to get a little more familiar with Nick Graham. Some of these shows, they’re an education in the brand. I’ve been to a few shows I didn’t know much about the brand and left knowing more. That’s always cool, you’re being introduced to something or getting a new experience.
Then we’re doing EFM. I’ve been checking their stuff out in the fitting. I’d like to see how they dress it up. It’s one thing to see the clothes on a rack but it’s interesting to see how they are brought to life. I have a break until the evening. I’m doing other things in between there. I’m doing social media, working the Snapchat, and taking over the CFDA’s social media too. We’ll be showing in-between moments, behind the scenes, getting dressed to go to the shows, just bringing the whole preparation to fashion week to social.
What’s your in-between show wardrobe?
Comfortable stuff. Stuff you can look fly in and not feel like you’re being captured, you don’t feel like you’re being held on to. I like to give new brands a shot. I look in the stores and on social media. I like to see what’s cool, see what’s bubbling. It’s not only just being on some Hypebeast, new high end brands, but also the guys that are coming up.
When did you first cultivate an interest in fashion?
I always liked to look presentable. I noticed that what you’re wearing is a representation of yourself and speaks for you before you do. Once I had that mind frame, that’s what brought me in. I thought of it as a representation of self.
In general how would you describe your fashion aesthetic?
It changes. I would say it’s versatile or diverse.
It can be in the streetwear family, or a little more upscale, in the high-end couture kind of vibe. I try to keep it based on how I’m feeling and what I’m doing. I try to keep it in the comfort of that. It’s part of you being comfortable, in whatever you wear and how you’re representing yourself. Versatility in fashion is a major stamp on somebody’s style.
Is there any extra pressure to look extra fly while you’re doing this?
Of course you wanna look fly! But it’s no pressure on me. I love to look nice regardless. I love to feel confident in what I’m wearing. And attend these shows and have a good time within it. It’s only 10-15 minutes of you actually seeing it. The style and representation is what lives on longer than that window.
What does it mean to you that they chose you to be an ambassador?
It means a lot to me. I’ve been a fan of a lot of the brands and really supported them and vice versa. The CFDA, aside from having the fashion weeks, does a lot of dope things for charitable efforts. I just wanted to be a part of it in any way that I could. It’s a great opportunity, and a great look. Any charitable effort is a great opportunity to help, to enlighten, to bring awareness or even to bring people together. Whatever way I can help, using my following or likeness, for anything they have going on, I’d want to be involved with.
Outside of this week’s ambassadorship, you’ve been recording a lot of new material. When will you unveil it?
I got a few projects on the way. I’m trying to release two or three projects this year. One is with Jadakiss, called Freddy vs. Jason, spinning off the movie where two villains come together in one movie. Then I have The Young OG Project 2, the sequel to the 2015 album, and I’m also working on to follow up to Loso’s Way. Audiences now digest music very fast. Before it might have been a lot to release three projects in one year. But now because of streaming you can release them in different ways and still get your point across.