I recently interviewed fashion designer and champion of the gender fluidity movement, Harris Reed
, for Soho House magazine. One of my favourite quotes from the piece reads: ‘My work now relates to those points in my childhood. Like, ‘F**k you: you bullied me for wearing rhinestone flip-flops, so I’m going to give you 300m of deadstock sequined fabric and you’re going to suck on it. You’re going to take it.’
It was a quote that sprung to mind yesterday when Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, turned up to Riccardo Tisci’s SS23 collection for Burberry wearing a wraparound black leather suit, a black hoodie, a pair of toe-separating black ‘Tabi’ socks by Maison Margiela, and some black jewel-encrusted flip-flops.
Ye looked a bit loopy, sure – like a hip-hop, high-fashion version of Grizabella the Glamour Cat – but he also looked kind of brave and bold, if not as boundary breaking as Reed, then at least like someone who’s unafraid to take risks with the way he dresses.
It’s not the first time Ye has made headlines for dressing in an, ahem, unexpected way. The world’s content-hungry style titles duly rallied when he went through his ‘dressing like a sewage worker’ phase (all black leather wader boots from Red Wing and beaten-up black denims galore), and the blacked-out gimp mask he wore in the ‘Heaven And Hell’ music video acquired as many column inches as his concurrent social media meltdown in the wake of his break-up with Kim Kardashian
It is the first time, however, that Ye has pushed at gender boundaries with his clothes. Even in his most outre moments, the artist has stuck assiduously to an arch-masc aesthetic, which has felt as fashion forward as it has an extortionately expensive simulacrum of the blue-collar uniforms worn by Americans the country over.
But what does Ye’s latest controversial turn mean for your wardrobe? The key lesson to learn is that, well, it’s kind of possible to look passable wearing just about anything these days so long as you do it with confidence. In the same vein as Evan Mock
, Justin Bieber and other key proponents of the ultra-messy chaos-core movement, Ye, like a contemporary emperor in the famous fable, is flaunting his new clothes and making the ridiculous look, somehow, sublime.
It’s a method regularly deployed by Ye’s friend and collaborator Demna Gvasalia, the creative director of Balenciaga. During his tenure at the storied Parisian fashion house, Gvasalia has honed the alchemic ability to transform once maligned items of clothing into must-have garments.
Take, for instance, Crocs. Once the preserve of gardeners the world over, thanks in part to Gvasalia putting platform versions of the shoe on his runway, the rubber slipper has since become the must-have shoe for cool people looking to make an anti-style statement. Questlove wore a pair of gold Crocs on the Oscars red carpet a few years back and Bieber’s rarely seen out of them.
Our prediction, therefore, is that thanks in part to Ye, but more to the likes of Harris Reed – who has spearheaded a move towards people dressing however the hell they like for his entire life – is that sparkly flip-flops will be the Crocs of 2023. You heard it here first.