I grew up in Chicago, which was a big influence on me. There was a big DJ scene in the city, and I was really into skateboarding and hip hop. It motivated my goal of creating a dialogue between high-end fashion and streetwear. The street influenced me more than anything.
I started off wanting to build skyscrapers, but even as I was studying architecture, I was designing T-shirts on the side. Both disciplines are about being creative and very design-focused.
Steve Jobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Michael Jordan – they are not [household] names because they [just] did it nine-to-five. [These] are people in the world that dedicate themselves to practice – and that’s always been me.
When I took over [as Louis Vuitton’s menswear artistic director], it was an incredible feeling. I have to applaud the CEO Mr [Bernard] Arnault and the whole of the Louis Vuitton family for embracing me. It’s an incredible company with such a successful legacy – but what impressed me is that they were open to doing things in a new way.
I am super proud [to be the first African-American designer of a major French fashion house]. To me, it signifies hope that the world is becoming more diverse. I take pride in the fact that there might be some kid in, let’s say, Alabama who thought fashion wouldn’t be possible for him, even though he wanted it, and because I am here, he will be like, “Maybe I can do this.”
You know who I am most inspired by? That kid that hasn’t had the chance to showcase their brand yet. Those kids motivate the work I do every day. That’s the muse for me: the next generation. And I want my work to inspire people like them.
When I was younger, somebody once told me that they would much rather be a citizen of the globe than of one particular place, and I really took that to heart. I am here to have a great experience [in the world]. For me, that’s what being a global citizen means.
[My wardrobe staples are] simpler than you think: white tees, black tees, [Nike Air Force 1s], denim jeans and a black hoodie. I am all about being creative, but there are some things you just need.
London is one of my favourite cities in the world. When I am in London, I enjoy myself, yet I feel like I always get so much work done. I love all the little areas like Soho and Shoreditch. Shoreditch House is one of my favourite places to work – I always have so many productive days there.
You know where I take a lot of inspiration from? Airports. When I am in cities, I am in the office, but at airports I am around real people from all around the world just doing their thing.
I am away from home about 300 days of the year, so it’s pretty much non-stop travel. I don’t really vacation either – it’s all business, so I pack for business. I always have a RIMOWA carry-on suitcase, and in that I have a hoodie in case it gets cold, a pen, blank sheets of paper and a fully charged iPhone. Long-haul flying is a great [time] to get work done.
This article was originally published in the September 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine