Yesterday morning, Kanye West paid a visit to Big Boy's Neighborhood, a radio show on Power 106 in Los Angeles, to discuss why he would hypothetically turn down a job at Louis Vuitton (a conversation America needs to have):
"If I had the opportunity to design now for Louis Vuitton, I wouldn't because the prices are just too extreme. And I don't want to use my message to have kids be saving up that much, to be a part of what the ideas are. And that's the problem, to me, with luxury. "
Okay? That's a bizarre statement for three reasons:
- Kanye was already presented with the opportunity to design for Louis Vuitton, and he jumped at the chance: In 2009, the performing artist developed a line of premium sneakers (retailing around the $1000 mark) with the French fashion brand.
- The prices may be extreme now, but they're projected to rise. Louis Vuitton executives recently hired a new accessories designer, Darren Spaziani, to launch a line of "hyper-luxury" goods to help combat lagging sales in Asia, a cooldown which is partially attributed to market saturation and increasingly sophisticated tastes.
- Luxury fashion brands do promote hollow aspirational materialism, but Kanye's hands are soiled either way. West releases his records through Def Jams and Roc-a-Fella records, both subsidiaries of Universal Music Group, which is the single biggest music corporation in the world — the LVMH of the music industry. He's also on the verge of marrying Kim Kardashian; her hobbies include endorsing products and inviting paparazzi to photograph her Rodeo Drive shopping trips.
Followed with a fairly lucid explanation of how fashion operates:
"One thing that's good — I don't totally agree with everything H&M and Zara do — but one good thing is that they were able to break that idea that creativity and these things you really want, have to cost a million dollars.
That's the whole concept, they take the most talented kids — a lot of them went to [Central] St. Martins in London. That's where Alexander McQueen went and Phoebe Philo and Riccardo Tisci (Phoebe Philo is the designer at Celine, Riccardo Tisci is the designer at Givenchy and of course McQueen is McQueen, who passed away). And then they get assigned to these major corporations. Either the Kering Group, which is Gucci Group, or LVMH.
And what happens is, they have a process where they work on clothes. The same way I work on an album. There might be ten people in a studio, thirteen people in a studio, a knitwear designer, shoe designer, fabrics designer, silhouettes, menswear designer … all that. And then they do these fashion shows twice a year – the clothes get released and they get sold to Bergdorf's or Barneys or something like this — like, three, four months later.
And the prices are really based on this perception, this idea of luxury. They get sold to you, where you see a girl laid out on a rock, on a side of a rock, and it's like, a Gucci ad at the bottom of it."
And then he flashed a surprising glimmer of depth:
But I realized, the only real luxury is time, that's the only thing you can't get back — time with your family. And people need to understand that the true art is just like, life itself.
It was just a glimmer:
You know, it's kind of unfair that with me and my level of communication for the past ten years… You know, people say 'Oh, he's arrogant!' And I'm like no, I'm the most influential person in fashion in the past ten years.
There's a video: