Top image: A$AP Ferg performing live in Toronto. Photo © CZR-E for The Come Up Show
Bypassing typical menswear-vernacular in pursuit of a fresher form is Astrid Andersen, who’s been crafting a dope, new dialect for lads since 2010. For SS16 she’s partnered with creative-king A$AP Ferg to create a track and accompanying video to properly notch her season, transcending the habitual monotony of fashion collections and transforming it into a multifaceted bomb of creativity.
Her sources of inspiration are organically comprehensive. Her executions on the old-age notion of luxuriousness: even more thorough – finishing off with a feminine warp and a slick insertion of modernity.
Red Bull Studios’ Catwalk Studio provided the kit to help the pair materialise their exacted concept. (Bull’s expertise in maturing fashion-concepts shine through previous projects including ‘Fred Butler x Charli XCX’ and ‘Alex Mattsson x Zebra Katz’.)
Rapper, designer, an almighty creative: A$AP is more than just a hip-hop artist, making this collab truly symbiotic. He inherited his artistic penchant from his father; attended art school; launched his own label; and could tell you more about the explosive Lagerfeld-Yves Saint Laurent spat than the average fashion-journalist. Speaking the same language is a concrete bond that Ferg and Astrid share.
Lewis Firth: Whereabouts did you grow up?
A$AP Ferg: I grew up in Harlem, New York City. I went to an art and design school and now I am a rapper, and have a deal. I never thought I’d ever have a deal. And this is crazy to me. I am busy every second of my life right now. I’m blessed. And I get to hang out with cool people like Astrid Andersen.
LF: Before you rapped, before joining A$AP Mob, you were massively into fashion, right?
AF: My father had a boutique in Harlem. Seeing him work was a massive influence for me. I saw how stuff was mass-produced – simple things like how shirts were embroidered, to more complicated processes like how to get things produced overseas. You know, I own about two silk-screen machines, and I used those to make money way before I got into rapping. I wanted to be the biggest fashion designer at one point in my life. I used to watch all of the fashion shows and documentaries. I followed the competition between Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent, battling each other over who made the best dresses and who got the awards. I was so into that. I’m still into that.
LF: So starting up a business came really natural to you…
AF: Of course. My father had kidney failure, so he became really weak; he wasn’t able to produce product. After high-school I would go down to the shop and print shirts. I think it really helped me, in terms of building my character, and how hard I work. It built me as man.
LF: Especially growing up and seeing your father grafting hard to keep his business alive.
AF: Exactly. I was printing, manually, 1000s of shirts, front and back – you know, four- and five-colour jobs. I had to do it because he couldn’t physically do it himself. He shaped me to be a man before he passed away.
LF: And when did you first come across Astrid’s brand?
AF: I saw her brand in an exclusive boutique in L.A.; the guy that owns it only messes with the dope stuff. I saw a shoot they did all over Tumblr and Instagram, and it just felt like a breath of fresh air. It was a new brand; it was dope; it was hip; at the same time – it was luxe. That’s what appealed to me. She just understood the culture. She isn’t a culture-vulture.
Astrid Andersen: People always ask, ‘What’s your inspiration?’ But inspiration can also be how you’ve been brought up; where you’ve come from; what you’ve listened to your whole life. It’s difficult to put all of that onto a mood-board and send a picture of that to people – it’s not about that. It’s a part of me. It’s not a trend. I’ve been trying to get the point across that it’s not a trend.
AF: I’ve said before in other interviews that Astrid’s like us. She’s not separate from our community. Other designers don’t give a fuck about what we’re really about – about our culture, you know? We’ve got someone who we can really support.
AA: It’s about defining luxury in the time we’re in. My mum thought that the most luxurious outfit on a guy would be a tuxedo. And I get that. That’s her generation. But for me, a tracksuit or a bomber jacket can have that same powerful, successful look.
LF: That’s society telling us what ‘success’ should look like. It’s shit. Suits are wack. Tracksuits are great. There’s no objective measure for success, right?
AF: Right. It’s all about perception. Now we are a group that understands how to define something that feels powerful or luxurious. It’s an emotion, rather than just a price tag.
LF: I agree with what you’re saying: you have multinationals appropriating hip-hop culture to capitalise on it. It’s all disingenuous. Where as with your brand, hip-hop is the brand’s native language.
AF: It’s like they’re trying to sell our lifestyle to us, you know? It was ours in the first place. Astrid makes the clothes for us. It feels like it’s already ours.
AA: In my shop in Copenhagen some of these kids will save up to buy one of my pieces, but once they’ve bought it, they feel connected. Our strategy from day one has been to grow something slowly, instead of tonnes of celebrity associations and abiding by trends. For me, what I really love about Ferg is that you can tell everything he does has drive. Everything feels like it’s more than a song: it’s a world; it’s a character; it’s something that inspires you on all different levels. That was very powerful for me.
LF: So how did the idea of the video come around?
AF: I was working on my album in L.A., and we knew that we had to work on a project together. So I just asked, ‘Why don’t you just come to L.A.?’ She replied, ‘I am so busy, Ferg.’
AF: I said, ‘It’s nice outside, two days isn’t going to hurt nobody. Just come out, let’s do lunch and enjoy the sun.’ We did lunch, but not even in the sun – in the studio.
AA: Me and Ella flew out to L.A. and had a few very nice sunshine-days. It was perfect for me as we were just getting into the spring/summer collection.
AF: It was a divine moment, right there.
AA: We listened to music in the studio and that was inspiration, again, right there. I knew we were going to go to Shanghai. I heard something; I knew it was dope; and things just started to click. We talked about what the music should be.
AF: We played a bunch of tracks for her and talked to my producer about building certain things from scratch.
AA: Then we spoke about how I wanted this film to look. And then he did this amazing track for it.
Astrid Andersen shows SS16 on Saturday 13th June. Stay tuned to HERO for full fashion week coverage, from London, Florence, Milan and Paris. Check out more from Red Bull Studio at their website.