Four years after Taylor Swift got labeled a snake and Kim Kardashian West gained attention for leaking yet another private home video, the Kanye West-Swift feud is (exasperatingly) back in the news. Is it reassuring that the rich and famous can be just as tiresome in a time of crisis as they usually are? Who’s to say, but one thing seems likely: Kanye doesn’t have time to get himself involved again. As the hip-hop mogul revealed in a new interview with WSJ Magazine, he’s too busy focused on a new album, making “the perfect hoodie,” and… urine gardens.
The wide-ranging interview bounces between wild insights into West’s numerous projects. Very briefly, it touches on West’s plans for a new album, which would follow 2018’s ye full-length and last year’s gospel record, Jesus Is King. Apparently, he was planning to spend spring in Mexico writing and recording the effort. He put in a little bit of work in Cabo San Lucas prior to the coronavirus crisis forcing him to return home to his family in Calabasas, California. With much of the music industry on hold during the pandemic, there’s no knowing when Kanye will be able to refocus on laying down tracks.
At the center of the WSJ feature, though, is the run-up to the Yeezy Season 8 fashion show held in Paris earlier this month. The long road West’s creativity took to get there was originally inspired by the bright orange hoodie he wears in the “Follow God” video. This is apparently the latest version of what he’s dubbed “the perfect hoodie.”
In his vision, the hoodie would be made in simple colors like flax or dusty stone (“a palette Jesus might have worn,” as WSJ’s Christina Binkley puts it), versatilely comfortable but “futuristic in its reach.” West would want them priced around $60 for the average consumer, presented “like loaves of bread” at democratic retailers like Costco and Walmart. The goal would be to turn Yeezy into “the McDonald’s and the Apple of apparel.”
“In order to make the Apple of apparel the next Gap, it has to be a new invention,” explained West. “To invent something that’s so good that you don’t even get credit for it because it’s the norm.”
Initially, Kanye teamed with Rochambeau designer Laurence Chandler to begin ideating the perfect hoodie. When it came time to get samples of the product, they turned to Dov Charney, the disgraced founder of American Apparel who was ousted in 2014 over sexual harassment and financial misconduct allegations. Denying the stories, Charney started Los Angeles Apparel — which Kanye tapped to make the uniforms for his Sunday Service crew. “Everyone deserves forgiveness,” said West.
Charney now frequents the Sunday Service performances, while Chandler is the general manager of Yeezy. While Chandler was pushing to see the perfect hoodie finished, West became distracted by a new idea: finally holding a successful runway show in the Fashion Capital of the World. For that collection, he found inspiration in the white, puffy, muslin vest he wore over that hoodie in the “Follow God” clip.
“You can’t take three years off and then come out with a hoodie,” West reasoned, according to Chandler.
Inspired by Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:11, the collection would be all muslin, with no fabric blends. “There’s a Bible verse that says you should not wear a cloth made of two kinds of materials,” said West. He also envisioned the collection as “couture for the service industry.” Kanye even had an inspiration board with the word “Service Positions” at the top and listing jobs like nanny, gardener, chef, housekeeper, security, and assistant — you know, jobs rich people get other people to do.
While Yeezy Season 8 was indeed successful, it wasn’t geared towards the Costco shoppers of the world. “We’re not focusing on prices right now,” noted Kanye. “We’re only focusing on creativity.” That price point ended up being “contemporary,” which WSJ described as “one notch cheaper than luxury goods.”
During the winding road to that collection, the interview also passed by Kanye’s relationship with Donald Trump. With his and Kardashian West’s interest in criminal justice reform, Kanye said he hopes to hire ex-convicts for his apparel manufacturing business. He’s looking for governmental support for that endeavor, as well as building US factories with Adidas, and he’s counting on his access to POTUST to get it done. He recalled calling Jared Kushner from his Calabasas swimming pool to talk about getting ASAP Rocky released after he was arrested for assault in Sweden. An hour later, Kanye was answering that infamous call from Trump himself.
Elsewhere, Binkley was given a look at the plans West has for his new compound in Wyoming. Seemingly designed in the vein of his illegally constructed dome buildings in California, the compound blueprints reportedly show seven rooms as part of “a closed-loop ecology for energy and water capture.” The project includes a vegetable garden, a skate park, orchards, a pond, and something called a “bio pool.” Showers would be run by a “hydrogen pulse detonation pump,” according to West. There’s also what’s been dubbed a “urine garden,” an aquaponic system designed to turn human waste into plant food.
If this all sounds like a lot, don’t think of Kanye as overambitious. “I do not like the word ambitious,” he said. “I’m Kanye West. The word ambitious is beneath my abilities. I’m just a doer… You can see in my eyes there’s not one bit of fear.”