A$AP Nast: “I’ve always had an unorthodox relationship with fashion”

This story originally appeared in iD’s Out Of The Blue problem, no. 366, winter 2021. Credit to Tiffany & Co. Order your copy here.

Since appearing on the scene with A $ AP Mob a decade ago, A $ AP Nast – aka Tariq Amar Devega – has been part of a revolutionary wave in hip-hop. Bursting with the song “Trillmatic”, which dates back to the New York boom-bap of the mid-1990s and advances into the new world that A $ AP Mob were busy creating, the group mixed Harlem rap history with new sounds from the south. He was equally laconic and charismatic. It was also very nice. And over the next decade, Nast made this cool his coin, working with Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton, accompanying their shows and acting in their campaigns, and recently releasing a capsule collection during Copenhagen Fashion Week. We met him in Los Angeles to discuss fashion, family and the art of doing what you want.

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I wanted to start from the beginning and ask you about your earliest fashion memories. What were they? Was it a music video or a picture in a magazine or a piece of clothing?

I don’t know if I remember the first time I got interested in fashion. I have always had an unorthodox and unexpected relationship with fashion. Even as a child I was different in the way I dressed. I never aimed to get into the fashion world or anything like that.

Growing up, which brands did you aspire to? Did you look at what the older kids wore?

A lot came to me from my mom actually, and how she dressed me, and from me not wanting to go to school in the same thing that all the other kids were wearing. I was very demanding. I think it stuck with me – not wanting to look like anyone else, being a bit unorthodox. I just can’t explain it.

How much influence did your mother have in developing your personal style?

It actually played a very, very important role in it. In the late 80’s and early 90’s my mom was a real ghetto girl. He wore spandex, the huge bomber jackets, the Reebok Classics, the knockers. My mom loved the sweatpants and Air Max sneakers. You know? It has always been imprinted on my growth.

A $ AP Nast leaning against the kitchen table photographed by Bladimir Corniel

A $ AP Nast wears COMME DES GARCONS coat and t-shirt. Jacket and pants of the model. MAISON MARGIELA cardigan. UNDERCOVER hat. BOTTEGA VENETA boots. All jewelry (worn everywhere) TIFFANY & CO.

I love it.

He’s always had that kind of style and it stuck with me. I’m still a fan of that stuff, the Air Max, the Reebok Classics. I love tracksuits and tracksuits – that’s where a lot of my style comes from. But then I’ll get weird too, I love the 70s. My grandmother was a very elegant woman, she was very chic, very elegant. I think I got a love for the more elegant and preppy things from her. She wore fur and pearls, she rocked Vanessa Petey.

Wow, fabulous.

So fashion is in the family. But like I said, I’ve never, ever really tried to be a cool guy. I have always liked to dress very well.

How did you evolve in your career, did you start collecting fashion? Collect pieces? Are there things you buy and don’t wear? Or are you looking for rare and vintage things? Tell me a little bit how you approach this.

I’ll just say a little bit because I don’t need everyone to do what I’m doing. But obviously I collect Comme, very Comme from the archive, very Issey and Yohji. I have a lot of that stuff. But I’m always overwhelmed by how much shit I have, and then I have to give things away. It’s the same with sneakers. I’m not a collector, because collectors are hoarders: they keep things forever. I am overwhelmed by what I own. You know what I mean?

You’ve already talked about Kurt Cobain and Tupac as your fashion icons, but what do you find iconic about them?

We live in an age where people don’t necessarily have their own style, but Kurt Cobain definitely had a personal style. It wasn’t just the garment – it was just normal things, a cardigan and a T-shirt, a pair of jeans, Converse – but it was how she wore it. He mixed it with a silly hat, those big glasses. He found his way to wear these garments which were all his own.

A $ AP Nast in the elevator photographed by Bladimir Corniel

A $ AP Nast wears COMME DES GARCONS coat and t-shirt. Jacket and pants of the model. MAISON MARGIELA cardigan. UNDERCOVER hat. BOTTEGA VENETA boots. All jewelry (worn everywhere) TIFFANY & CO.

Totally.

God knows, everyone will probably be wearing blue jeans and Converse at some point. But he transformed it into his personal style. I think this is what I liked about Kurt’s swag; he wore the simplest, most normcore clothing but made it look like his. You know? He did his thing with it.

What is the perfect dress for you? What’s the perfect look? What is your point of reference, your uniform?

There are always some outfits that I go back to often. One is a pair of sweatpants, a crewneck sweater, some good tube socks and a pair of Air Max. Or another go-to is probably a pair of pants and trainers too, and just a white t-shirt or a hoodie. And then of course I deal with clothes, which varies. You know? I make different types of pleated dresses, some oversized dresses.

How do you fuel your creativity in general? Is it something you have to work on or is it just something that is naturally stimulated?

A lot comes from just myself, from using my imagination, and a lot comes from people watching and watching movies.

People watching are good.

Yes. I will take inspiration from anywhere. I’ll take inspiration from this fire truck that’s passing right now and say, “I want to turn it into a pair of jeans.” People say, “What the fuck are you talking about?”

My God.

I am extremely unorthodox for most of these things. I never really know where my creativity comes from, and personally I don’t give a shit. I do not know. I’m just doing and doing what I’m doing, and it’s working.

“I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing with my life. I’m just doing what I want to do, man. “

So, to be a musical artist in 2021, obviously you have to be a great artist, but there is this dimension of being complete, three hundred and sixty degrees, creative, visionary, with a strong artistic direction and a strong visual identity. Did you always have, from the beginning, a clear vision of how you saw yourself as an artist?

No, I’ve never done that. And I think I don’t know yet, to be honest. I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing with my life. I’m just doing things. I’m doing what I want, man.

Good. So is it really just a step by step sensation?

I take it step by step. I’ve always hated making plans. You know? I don’t like making plans because plans never quite go according to plan. And if things don’t go as planned, I’m fucking pissed off. I don’t want to be pissed off, I want to be happy. I want to have a smile on my face. Every day I wake up with a different person. My mind is constantly changing. I could have a dream tonight and wake up and change everything. But then it could change again tomorrow. It works somehow. It’s messy and it’s all over the place, but it works for me.

What is the best advice you have received?

Simply, to follow your dreams and chase your real dreams and goals, and not chase the money. It stuck with me because where I come from people were always hunting for money. They don’t care what they’re good at, they just want to know how they can make some money. So you should follow your dreams and let the money come later. Don’t chase money and women, chase your dreams. Even if it’s like trying to be the best dad ever. If that’s your goal, stick to it.

Are you good at spending time alone? Or do you work better as a team? How important is collaboration for you?

I hear them both, to be honest. I am a loner who likes to collaborate, especially if the energy is good. Great things come from collaborations.

A $ AP Nast's arm reaches down to put out a cigarette on a jade stone gold-plated ashtray photographed by Bladimir Corniel

A $ AP Nast wears COMME DES GARCONS coat and t-shirt. Jacket and pants of the model. MAISON MARGIELA cardigan. UNDERCOVER hat. BOTTEGA VENETA boots. All jewelry (worn everywhere) TIFFANY & CO.

Last year you went to Copenhagen Fashion Week and launched a capsule collection. What are your plans in terms of fashion for the future? Can you tell us a little about that process, about making fashion alone, about collaborating with brands?

This too was rather unorthodox. And the whole Copenhagen situation was also something my friends and I dreamed of in our backyard just to take us to Copenhagen. We wanted to get some people involved, make it one thing. We wanted to do a show but it didn’t go well, it was like that at the last minute. But we threw a nice party for it. We called it PDP – Please Don’t Pet. He was with me and my brother D33J and some other DJs. COVID has completely slowed us down. It continues anyway, even though I don’t know exactly where it is going. You know what I mean? We are enjoying the ride. It’s nice to do something with friends and that’s it. Makes me happy.

Totally. I feel it is a good place to leave it. That was great. Thank you very much.

Yes, no, of course.

Fresh. Thanks so much for your time.

Thank you very much. Have a good one.

Credits


Thanks to Tiffany & Co.

Photography Bladimir Corniel

Sunny Side Up production
A $ AP Nast wears COMME DES GARCONS coat and t-shirt. Jacket and pants of the model. MAISON MARGIELA cardigan. UNDERCOVER hat. BOTTEGA VENETA boots. All jewelry (worn everywhere) TIFFANY & CO.

All jewelry (worn everywhere) Tiffany & Co.

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