Monday, 15 July 2024

Lil Yachty

Greetings from the mega wardrobe

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The all-round positivity and weirdness that permeates the work of Lil Yachty from Atlanta can be found in many of the titles of the songs that he sings, raps or collaborates on: ‘Oprah’s Bank Account’ with Drake, ‘Gucci Flip Flops’ and ‘Fuck up a Sack’. Anyway, Miles McCollum, as he is called in his passport, is bizarrely prodigious and absurdly successful, with his releases enjoyed by millions of fans, even if he sings completely off-key. When he isn’t making music, Yachty buys vintage clothes and rare deadstock shoes pretty much constantly, and his three walk-in wardrobes are filling up fast. He trawls the internet, travels the world and employs special clothing hunters in order to get the pieces he’s after. Despite being fabulously wealthy, he loves selling his old garments to people. It’s second nature for someone in a generation where buying and selling old clothes – the economics of resale, the obsessive collecting, the camaraderie – is as much a hobby as it is an enterprise.

From Fantastic Man n° 33 — 2021
Interview by ELIOT HAWORTH
Photography by GUNNER STAHL

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ELIOT — Hi. How’s it going?

LIL YACHTY — I’m just putting on some clothes. Then I’ll turn on my camera.

Okay.

One second. Hrmmmm.

No rush.

I can’t find no clothes. I was in bed. I’m in a robe, so I’m just gonna be in this robe.

Robe is fine. [Phone camera turns on]

What’s the word?

I’m not bad thanks. Your robe looks nice and beige. Where’s it from?

This is Skims, Kim Kardashian’s brand.

How is it, is it comfortable?

Yeah, it’s soft.

Did you buy it or did they send it to you?

They sent it to me.

Where are you calling from? Are you in a wardrobe?

I’m in one of my closets.

How many do you have?

Three.

Nice. Are most of your clothes vintage?

I hate new shit, man!

Why?

It has to be super cool. It has to be super, undeniably cool, but other than that I hate new shit. I like to support young designers, local designers, up-and-coming designers. But other than that, I just love archive. Archive and vintage.

How come you don’t like new clothes?

Honestly, just because more people have it. You’re more liable to see it.

So, part of your interest in old clothes is finding things that other people don’t have?

That’s the whole part of the thing.

How do you distinguish archive from vintage? Or are they interchangeable?

Oh no, I think they are very different. Vintage is…an old shirt is vintage, right. Hold on. Okay, look at this.

What are we looking at here?

This is a vintage shirt, right? It’s a bootleg Disney shirt, with a black Mickey Mouse on it. It’s a vintage shirt. Now, an archive piece is a little bit more high-in-demand. Let’s see if I can find something archive in here. Ah, this! This is an archive piece: a Raf Simons hoodie, from the ‘Consumed’ collection, 2003. This is archive. This is a statement piece, you know? Archive is more like vintage designer. That’s how I feel about it. This is a Saint Laurent astronaut jacket from 2016. I love this jacket. I remember this jacket from when I first came into music, when YSL switched to SLP. I was shopping at Saint Laurent super heavy, and I saw this jacket. I didn’t really care too much for it at the time. But I got older and my tastes kind of changed and I got a bit more respect for it. I thought, “Damn, that’s a really nice jacket,” so I bought it recently. Here’s another 2002-2003 Raf Simons jacket. These are archive pieces, know what I’m saying?

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Everything seen here and throughout is from Lil Yachty’s vast collection of vintage clothing.

There’s a clear difference between vintage, being a bit more thrift shop, and archive, being a bit more designer.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be thrift shop. But when it’s high-fashion designer vintage, I think that’s what I’d call an archive piece. High demand, low quantities: that’s an archive piece. This is just my personal opinion, by the way. I’m not saying this is how it is.

No, of course. This is just your own personal taxonomy.

Right. Really, I just wear what I wanna wear. I don’t have too much care and I don’t really give a fuck. If the eye likes it, you know, we’ll wear it and then figure out what brand it is after. Most people figure out what brand it is, and if it’s not a certain brand, they won’t wear it. I’ve seen it happen multiple times. That’s hype-beast behaviour: people without a sense of style who just wear what’s popular.

So, you don’t look for things by specific designers and try to seek them out?

Sometimes, of course! But I don’t only look for that. You know, if I saw something else that I liked and it wasn’t something I’m familiar with, I wouldn’t say, “Whoa, fuck no, I’ve never heard of this,” you know what I’m saying? 
I don’t want to wear what other people wear. I love Issey Miyake, I love Kapital, I love it so much. I think it’s godly. I think Uundercover is godly. I love old Prada.

Do you buy old Miu Miu?

My girl likes Miu Miu, but I don’t have any. Do they make men’s?

Well, they don’t anymore. But they used to and it was great. That’s a good defunct line to look into.

I’m going to check that out. I love General Research. I love shit that I’ve never seen. I love miscellaneous T-shirts. I love Japanese designers, but their stuff doesn’t always fit me so well. It’s cut small and I’m kind of a big guy. I love old Rick Owens. I’ve got old, colourful Rick Owens shit people have never seen. Yellow, sky-blue. I had red; lost it in a hotel and never seen it again. God bless those sweats.

Do you lose a lot of clothes?

I lose a lot of stuff. I used to have a lot of people around me, I used to have 16 people living with me. So a lot of things would go missing and I really didn’t know who did what.

That sounds stressful.

But I also had a lot of women. Before I found love, I had a lot of women coming in and out of my house. So, you know, I don’t know who took what. I never blamed anybody; it is what it is.

Have you always worn vintage clothes? Where did your preference for vintage over new clothes come from?

Well, I used to be broke as shit. Let’s start there. I was broke as fuck. Broke bitch. All I had was enough money to shop at a thrift store. So I made it cool.

Do you still go to thrift stores?

Not so much now. More vintage stores. It’s basically just a thrift store with a better selection and way higher prices. You know what it is, and I fully take the blame here: as I got older and I got more successful, I kind of got a little lazy. And then I just kind of stopped. Because you’ve got to have time. To go to a thrift store, you’ve got to be patient. I used to be the most patient guy in the world. I would go through every item in that bitch and come out smelling like a fucking grandma. Going through every item, smelling old and dusty, because I went through every hat, every shirt, every pair of pants, every pair of shoes, till I found my niche. I can’t believe I never got bedbugs.

Thrift shops need a good edit. Five per cent might be good, but 95 per cent will be garbage.

Right! It’s just like when you’re going through beats.

That’s interesting. What do you mean?

When you tell people on the internet to send you beats and you get all these beats from all these kids around the world, it’s going to be 95, 98 per cent bullshit, and 2 per cent is some cool shit, and you’ve got to sit there and go through all the bullshit.

And come out smelling like a grandma.

Hahaha! Exactly.

How has success in your musical career changed the way that you buy and think about clothes? I assume the obvious change is that you simply buy way more clothes, but has it changed the way you look for things?

It’s changed the way I look at things, not look for things. Because when I was a kid, I used to pick up a shirt and freak out if it was $100. No way. Now if it’s $100 and I like it, I’ll take six of them. My wallet changed; I didn’t.

How do you find the rare clothes you’re looking for?

I do a lot of internet searching. A lot of surfing and deep diving. Just scrolling and scrolling, page after page, until I find something that I like. Or finding a brand and looking into it heavily. I love Grailed. I use eBay, Yahoo Japan, StockX for shoes. I used to use Etsy, but I don’t use Etsy no more. I’ve got a homegirl who runs a store in Atlanta called No Signal, with nothing but amazing pieces. Her name is Emily; I love her to death. She is a queen assassin of hunting down anything in the world. She can get me whatever I want. If I tell her I want something, she is absolutely going to get it. Going. To. Get. It.

Oh wow, you’ve got hunters. That’s serious.

Yeah, shopper hunters.

Do you miss hunting for things yourself?

I still do though. I shop everyday. All I do is shop. But if it’s some truly crazy and impossible-to-find shit, that’s when I have to get the hunters involved. But I love hunting for things myself, and I will go anywhere in the world to find something. I can be in a car and stop it mid traffic if I see something I’ve been looking for, or that I like, in the window of a store. I also do a lot of travelling, and I hunt for things when I’m abroad. The thing I’m best with is shoes. If there are some shoes I want, I’m gonna get ’em. I’m a demon. But at this point in my career in collecting clothes, I have so much. At this point, it’s just me finding what I think is cool. I don’t really need anything else.

The wardrobe we are in right now looks really full.

It is. The bad thing is, a lot of things I can’t fit anymore because I’ve been collecting for, like, five years, and I was a boy when I started; I was 18. I’ve grown so much, so there’s a lot of crazy amazing things that I can’t fit anymore.

What do you do with it? I saw you were the top reseller on Grailed last year.

Wow, I didn’t know that.

You didn’t know?

No!

I think someone asked on Reddit, and Grailed got back to them with a list of the top sellers, or at least the most popular accounts, and yours was at the top.

Wow, I sold hundreds of things, so I wouldn’t be surprised. I’m not crazy surprised, actually, but that’s cool. I sold a lot of shit. I want to open a store so bad, man. You know what I wanna do?

What?

Aw, I can’t tell you because you’re going to publish it and then people are gonna know.

Oh no, tell me!

Okay. I’m going to do a store. I’m going to build an online store, but I’m not going to tell people it’s my store. I’m just going to make a store and I’m just going to start posting shit. I’ve got so much stuff, so I’m just going to start listing my things and selling it, but I’m not going to tell anyone it’s me. Celebrities are always, like, “Come check out my closet on Depop!” Ugh. No. I’m not going to do that. I’m just going to buy a domain, make it look really cool, really simple, and I’m just going to post cool shit on it. I’ll just run a store secretly.

You’ll have a shop-owning alter ego.

Yeah, it’ll be sick! I’ll be like a little salesman. I wouldn’t be doing it for money; I’d be doing it for the guilty pleasure of selling clothes to people. I just love it.

Why do you enjoy selling things to people?

I don’t know. I think if I wasn’t a rapper, I would definitely work in a clothing store.

FANTASTIC MAN - LIL YACHTY’s list of side projects extends well outside the musical realm; he has launched a limited-edition range of Reese’s Puffs cereal, served as creative designer at sailing-wear label NAUTICA, and even started his own cryptocurrency. At the time of writing, one YachtyCoin can be bought for $16.

When you sold things on Grailed, did you find it odd that people might be buying your old clothes specifically because you’d owned them?

That’s exactly what they were doing. I don’t give a fuck though. But I’d want to do it without that percentage I had to pay Grailed!

I’m trying to understand why you would want to sell anonymously with your fantasy shop. Is there a bit of a stigma around being a rapper and then being seen selling your old clothes?

Oh yeah, definitely. Everyone tried to call me broke, which is crazy. I’ve got a million other things I would sell before my clothes if I was broke. But I guess I’m broke for selling clothes. I don’t really care. I’m wearing nail polish right now and dangly earrings. I don’t care about what people think.

This might be an ignorant question, but I’m curious: when you are buying rare shoes, do you only buy a pair if they fit your foot size or do you buy them no matter what the size? Is there a rule?

There’s not a rule. Usually I buy them in my size, but if they are really rare then I buy them in any size.

What’s a really good sneaker that you’ve bought recently that people might not have?

I got a pair of Air Bakins in a blue colourway. Google that.

Okay, I’m looking. [The Nike Air Bakin was released in 1997 and worn by basketball player Tim Hardaway. The shoe was recalled due to complaints from the Muslim community that the stylised “air” on the heel resembled “Allah” in Arabic script, making originals hard to come by and expensive.]

Damn, someone wants $1500 for a pair? They’re tripping. I got mine for $100. I got a colourway that I’d never seen before. It’s really rare.

One thing I find interesting about sneaker collecting is how the resale market and culture have become really established and legitimate over the last few years.

I’m sure a lot of people make their living off of it.

Exactly. It’s a big business, but it has also completely changed how hip-hop culture relates to clothes.

In a way.

I think it’s really significant. I’ve been watching a lot of your wardrobe tours with Complex, where you go through all your shoes. They are really engrossing, but they also make my head spin. Listening to you and the host, Joe, talking about shoes – sometimes it becomes so hard to follow the detailed talk of specific models, releases, colourways, which year was a good year for a certain brand. You could just as well be talking about rare wines.

Hahaha. I love Joe La Puma; he’s such a cool guy. Shouts out to Joe. I would love to work at Complex.

If you think about old episodes of ‘MTV Cribs’, where 50 Cent or whoever is showing you around their wardrobe and everything is brand new and shiny, they would often boast about how they’d only wear a pair of trainers once. It’s crazy that a rapper would now be proudly showing off a room filled with old shoes that are sometimes coming apart at the seams.

Hip-hop changed. We are the change. I’ve never been that way. Growing up, I couldn’t afford to be that way, and by the time I got money I was in love with vintage clothing and it was part of how I dressed. I love Lil B, The BasedGod. He wore dirty Vans. That’s all he wore, and I copied him. I wanted to be just like Lil B. I was wearing dirty Vans.

Do you have any shoes that you can’t wear because they are too rare?

Nah, I have rare shoes but I’ll wear any of them. Even the expensive ones. But only rarely; usually I wear my bullshit beat-up shoes.

What’s the most expensive pair of shoes you own?

Probably $15,000.

What are they?

Some Eminem Jordan 4s. Some shoes are way more expensive than that. That’s nothing, man. I know some people with some expensive shoes.

Can I ask you about something that’s been bothering me?

Sure.

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You said earlier that you couldn’t find any clothes, but the whole time we’ve been talking, you’ve been standing in a gigantic room filled with clothes…

That’s true. But it was more me thinking, “Damn, how do I want to dress for this? Do I even want to get dressed or do I just want to sit in my underwear and a tanktop?” And that’s what I really wanted to do. That’s more what I meant.

Where’s your underwear from?

I’m wearing Neiman Marcus underwear. I like white underwear.

Can’t beat it. And your socks?

Nike. Everything is white.

How are your wardrobes divided? One for shoes and two for clothes?

Yes! How did you know that? You been stalking me?

Just a guess.

I’m kidding. Okay, let me show you the other ones. I’ll find some stuff I’ve gotten recently. So, my girlfriend’s about to move in – I’ve mentioned her about five times already, you should put in here somewhere, “He really loves his girlfriend,” give me some cool points – so I’m making a bit of room. Okay, this is my bathroom. God, I feel like an aunty in this robe. Look at how I’m holding it. [Points camera at bathroom mirror] I’m clutching it to my chest just like an aunty would. I didn’t realise I was doing that. I’m getting old. And here’s another closet. Again, it’s filled with stuff. This is something really cool that I bought recently: it’s a vintage Dior pillow. I bought it because I have a vintage Dior beanbag. It’s next door. What else is in here? Some vintage Bape jeans with big writing on the butt – I like big writing on the butt. Vintage Prada track pants. What else is in here… A cream Chrome Hearts beanie. Kapital jeans. This is an old Balenciaga vest. Some ROA boots. I love ROA boots. Some more sick vintage Prada pants with a sickass fucking stripe down them. This is an Undercover flannel I bought for my girlfriend. I’m trying to encourage her to dress less preppy.

You said she’s moving in soon?

Yeah.

Are you excited?

I am. Very.

Are you going to share a wardrobe?

I’ve really got to make space for her.

Do you have space or are your wardrobes already full? They look quite full.

Well, I have two houses. I have this house and then the house next door. That’s where all my people live, so up here’s a bunch of open rooms. I’m turning some of them into more closets. Here’s my sneaker closet. And then this room… This is just a room filled with clothes. But I’m going to turn it into a California-style closet, where it’s loads of wall-mounted shelves. Very light. God, look in here, even more bags. There’s clothes everywhere in this house. All of this is mine, all my clothes. This is my bag of cool pillows.

Do you think you have more clothes than you’ll ever wear?

Probably. I want it, I need it, I gotta have it. I have so much stuff man. My garage, too, is filled with clothes. Filled!

You need to set up your shop.

Yeah, I need to do something with my life… You know, when I first started collecting clothes, I also started collecting women’s clothing, for when I one day got a girlfriend. That’s what’s in all the bags over here. I’ve been collecting for years and I’ve finally got a girlfriend. I’m going to make her wear all this stuff.

Does she find that weird?

I don’t think she actually believed me until I showed her all these bags and bags of clothes. Brand new with tags, vintage Chanel, Vuitton, Prada.

How did you go about shopping for a theoretical girlfriend?

It was hard! Because I had no idea what size she would be, so I had to buy all sorts of sizes. I had no idea what she would look like. I just knew that when I one day met her, I’d want her to dress nice.

That’s very romantic, but also bizarre.

Yep. Love’s crazy, bro.

Okay, you’ve shown me so much. I’m happy to let you get on with your day. What else are you doing today?

Hmmm, nothing. I might go to the studio and record some music. Maybe. I’m supposed to shoot a video at six, but… I don’t think I want to. We’ll see.

CONTRIBUTIONS

Photographic assistance by Emilee Ramsier.