At the Spring 2019 fashion weeks, bold patterns and mixed prints made a real splash, with designers from Paco Rabanne—who went all out with florals and paisley—to Gucci, who couldn’t seem to decide if its collection would be monochromatic or entirely mismatched collisions of patterns and fabrics.
While bold sartorial choices are par for the course of high-end fashion designers, the mixed messages from a very *different* designer—namely Kanye West—were the ones that left us scratching our heads this week.
Yesterday at his meeting with The FADER, West appeared in a Make America Great Again cap that he said he redesigned to “put positive energy into the hat” and a sweatshirt he designed that said “Colin Kaepernick” on it. Two statement pieces, two verryyyyy different styles and consequently, serious mixed messages.
— Andy Cohn (@andycohn) September 27, 2018
Both the shirt and the hat are big political statements, with one in support of President Donald Trump and the other in support of Kaepernick, an activist and football player most famous for taking a knee during the national anthem at NFL games to protest racial injustice.
Trump is vehemently not a fan of Kaepernick, having taken to Twitter several times to criticize the athlete’s activism. Most recently, after Nike featured Kaepernick in its 30th anniversary campaign, Trump subtweeted Kaepernick saying, “Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way? As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!”
Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way? As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018
For fans of West, it’s a confusing time. After years of taking political stances and rapping about the injustices Black people face in the United States, West’s outspoken support for a president that practically enables white supremacy is confusing, to say the least. And with his newest album, YANDHI, dropping this Saturday, he should have attempted to catch onto why his fans are so upset before turning them off even more with such a conflicting outfit.
Kanye West wearing a MAGA hat and a Colin Kaepernick sweatshirt to the Fader offices to push Yandhi is peak cognitive dissonance and clickbait, but more importantly it’s a 0/10 fit
— 𝖇𝖗𝖔𝖆𝖟𝖆𝖞 (@broazay) September 27, 2018
It seems like West is trying to do what those Fashion Week designers are doing—combining the unexpected, hoping to create harmony out of conflicting concepts until they create something visually stunning. In political terms, it looks like West is trying to make compromise work in our increasingly divided world. In his song “Ye vs. the People,” West raps, “See, that’s the problem with this damn nation/All Blacks gotta be Democrats, man.” There’s a clear frustration with rigid partisanship, but fighting racism isn’t partisan.
Kanye West thinks he’s revolutionary wearing a MAGA hat and a Colin Kaepernick sweater…
Really all he’s doing is saying he doesn’t care about anyone except Kanye West pic.twitter.com/3Pd0FijPDM
— Frederick Joseph (@FredTJoseph) September 28, 2018
To an extent, we have to feel for West. With all the controversies and (necessary) political fights, we’re burnt out too, and it’s tempting to just ask why we can’t all just get along. However, with extremism on the rise not only abroad, but even in Canada, we can’t brush problems like racism under the rug and pretend everything is compatible. These days, trying to bring back even a more *moderate* society often means taking a clear stance.
For West, this outfit wasn’t stylish, it wasn’t edgy, it was just… bad. Until the president finally gets the significance of kneeling during the national anthem and acknowledges his anti-Black racism, making Trump and Kaepernick match is just another one of Kanye’s fantasies that we can’t comprehend.
Stacy Lee Kong: “If It Feels Like Racism In Canada Is Getting Worse, That’s Because It Is”
I Used to Be a Black Kanye Fan But Uh, That’s Cancelled
Annoying “Fashion Designer” Kanye West Accused of Ripping Off a Print