When Kanye West’s much talked about urban wear collection for French brand A.P.C. was launched a couple of weeks ago on the 14th of July (co-incidentally – or perhaps not so – this is also Bastille Day AKA French National Day) it managed to crash their website and was a complete sell out within seconds of it appearing online. It seems that sometimes you really can believe the hype as even the high prices didn’t deter the frenzy with rabid shoppers snapping up the ultra-small street wear collection of just three pieces: a pair of jeans, a hoody and a t-shirt in a flash.
Indeed it seems that Mr. West can currently do no wrong in the world of men’s fashion with brands and labels clamouring to work with him and be the next hot thing in celebrity collaborations. Kanye seems to have successfully pulled off what so many others before him haven’t been able to do and it seems that he may have avoided the curse that usually falls upon celebrity and fashion mash ups. Although Swedish high street store H&M usually manage to pull it off with popular partnerships with both pop stars (Madonna, Kylie Minogue) and respected fashion designers (Versace, Lanvin, Karl Lagerfeld). They also use celebs in their advertising campaigns; this year sees Beyoncé as their face of the summer whilst footballer David Beckham’s ongoing association with the company is well known.
Celebrity fashion collaborations, however, are much more common in women’s wear so I thought I’d take a look at men’s clothing and see if I could find any other male celebs who had worked with men’s fashion brands to create their own lines and not surprisingly there were nowhere near as many. Whilst many men’s brands, particularly those in the urbanwear and streetwear genres teamed up with likeminded labels (G-Shock and Stussy, Neighborhood and Supreme, Carhartt and Vans) there are not so many stars who get involved with men’s apparel. Maybe the offers just aren’t there, maybe guys don’t fall for the celeb thing as much as women do (although Kanye and A.P.C. would suggest otherwise) or maybe there just aren’t enough stylish famous dudes out there that inspire brands to work with them. However a little digging around on the internet did unveil a few team efforts between entertainers and fashion brands – although most of them do feature Kanye West!
Trainer aficionados will no doubt remember the meeting of Kanye West and Nike which resulted in one of the most sought after shoes ever, the Nike Air Yeezy. These limited edition kicks caused a frenzy when just 3000 pairs were first released in 2009. The Nike Air Yeezy II was released in 2012 and their enduring popularity sees phase three being unveiled in 2015. If you can’t wait until then, be prepared to splash the cash on eBay!
Sticking with everyone’s favourite rapping urban wear designer, Kanye produced another line of footwear with none other than highly regarded French fashion house Louis Vuitton. While this does seem a very odd meeting of minds: street wear + heritage couture = ??? West was reported to have worked very closely with the maison’s director of footwear to ensure that the designs were Vuitton appropriate. The limited collection featured three designs: The Don, The Jasper and The Mr. Hudson.
Leaving the ever busy Mr. West behind for a moment we turn to rappers the Wu-Tang Clan who back in 2006 teamed up with urbanwear brand Alfie to produce trainers, a ‘Wu-Tang Life’ t-shirt and a college jacket which featured the slogan ‘R.I.P. O.D.B’ – a reference to rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard who died of a drug overdose two years previously.
It seems that rap, hip hop and streetwear brands are a match made in heaven as this year sees Nas work with the self-described ‘multimedia, design and merchandise hybrid’ Grungy Gentleman to release an autumn collection entitled HSTRY constituting of 33 garments including leather jackets and flannel shirts. Whether Nas can emulate Kanye West’s popularity is yet to be seen – he certainly has a lot to live up to!
Sticking with urban wear but crossing the pond to the UK now, TV presenter, actor and radio DJ Reggie Yates has been collaborating with snowboard brand Burton to produce a range of women’s and men’s t-shirts and vests that feature his own photography printed on them. The printed designs feature stage shots of the crowd at music festivals, street scenes and huge blown up roses.
Finally, in a twist on the real celebrity joining hands with the real fashion label, American prescription glasses and sunglasses brand Warby Parker have taken inspiration from the Man of Steel himself and launched a range of glasses inspired by everyone’s favourite nerdy news reporter Clark Kent. This collection timed, of course, to coincide with this year’s release of the latest Superman movie, also promises to donate $15 USD from the sale of each pair of Man of Steel glasses to a non-profit organization that provides support for young people who want to become writers. I’m sure Clark Kent would approve!
Which are your top menswear or streetwear fashion collabs? And which star would you love to see bring out a range of urban wear with which designer? Or maybe you think pop stars should stick to singing and celebrity partnerships are over rated. Whatever your thoughts leave them in the comments box. And if you’re looking for urbanwear men’s clothing with a difference, head over to our website and pre-order one of our soon to be launched men’s t-shirts.