Ye, and his disciples
We should consider ourselves lucky to now live in a world where anyone can design, and we owe a lot of that to the figureheads who currently sit atop the fashion landscape that dared to challenge the status quo. I attribute Kanye West as being the catalyst that kick-started the new age design and opened the door to so many who would follow in his footsteps. In ‘Ye, and his disciples’ I outline the influence Kanye West has had on his creative peers in breaking down barriers for those who were not classically trained but shared his passion and devotion to the world of fashion. The innovative foundation DONDA helped nurture some of the biggest names in the modern fashion industry with designers like Samuel Ross, Jerry Lorenzo and even the great Virgil Abloh spending time with Kanye at DONDA, and it appears West wants to inspire not only designers of today but designers of tomorrow too.
Kanye West’s Incubator Programme
Ye has recently announced he is launching a new incubator programme, and as the name incubator suggests it will be one designed to nurture, and the intended nurturing will be to allow emerging artists and designers to flourish to their full potential. Kanye West plans to support these diamonds in the rough by providing financial assistance and mentorship to these budding talents in the fields of fashion and design. The first young designer to receive the privilege was Chicago-born, Parsons graduate Maisie Schloss, who was one part of the Yeezy womenswear design team. After receiving the grant, Schloss was quoted as acknowledging “Yeezy is a really special environment for growing and developing a career. When I started I was just an assistant, but the highly creative and unconventional atmosphere allowed for me to have visibility and input in a wide variety of projects, Kanye very generously offered to support me; he truly cares about sharing resources, creating opportunities for creatives to grow and be recognised.”
Talking about her first collection that will debut under her brand name Masie Wilen in Los Angeles, and then later in Paris, with a capsule including 85 pieces, ranging from $100 to $950. Schloss said: “My first collection is inspired by rhythmic gymnastics and robotics, specifically studying how elegant fluidity emerges from rigid systems. Strongly driven by print, the clothes themselves are playful and fashion-forward but rooted in very wearable shapes.”
Virgil Abloh’s Re-Creation Center
Maisie Schloss is just the first benefactor of Kanye West’s new incubator project, but it appears Ye isn’t the only one attempting to help develop the next crop of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed designers. Long term friend, peer, and fellow Chicago native Virgil Abloh has also used his considerable influence in the fashion world to team up with NikeLab to create a unique outpost in his native Chicago, dubbed the Re-Creation Center. Described by Nike as a “Cultural Hub” the space aims to just like Kanye West’s incubator programme nurture young talent but instead of a grant Virgil wants to provide his youthful fanbase with the opportunity to get involved with mentorship opportunities and hands-on workshops. Over the course of two months, the Re-Creation Center will offer exclusive drops, “giveback programs” and specialised panel discussions hosted by local creators selected by Abloh himself. Chuck Anderson, Paul Octavious, Alyx Harch, Thomas Kelley and Carrie Norman and Ann Lui and Craig Reschke will speak on subjects ranging from brand identity to fabric design, with an emphasis on each creative’s area of expertise.
The flavour of the month clearly appears to be community projects, and with Kanye West and Virgil Abloh two arguably self-made design heavyweights, they rather nobly wish to carve a much more refined and straight forward path for which the next generation of collaborators and creative peers to flourish, and for that, I can’t knock them.