If there's one thing that can be said about the A.P.C. KANYE collection, which released this Sunday, it's that the tiny 5-piece collaboration has spawned a level of analysis and criticism typically reserved for high-art or high-fashion or, well, a Kanye West album. Amongst those reflecting is Alec Banks of HighSnobiety, who today penned an essay discussing his dislike of the "Hip-Hop" T-shirt, the plain white or navy tee that retailed for $120. In his essay, Banks outlines that the "Hip-Hop" shirt is both overpriced and that it furthers the claim that fashion is perceived as valuable based on the tag the piece of clothing boasts above anything else. In this case, he feels that West has exploited consumers by charging an unwarranted price for something so closely tied to hip-hop culture: the "Tall Tee". You can read the entire essay yourself, but I can't help but take issue with this piece on a number of levels:
1. While I agree that naming it the "Hip-Hop" T-shirt might be a bit cheesy or in bad taste, I can't help but think that Kanye did not have 100% say in the naming of these products. Based on the collection's completely general and arbitrary sounding product names ("Hooded Sweatshirt," "Hood Sweatshirt II," "Kanye Jeans," etc.), you have to think A.P.C. simply needed something, anything, to call these items before putting them on their website. Basic human rationality aside, the T-shirt is more a reflection of Kanye's current tastes and aesthetic preferences than it is a reflection of some speculative desire to exploit a relic of hip-hop culture.
2. A.P.C. has long been known for minimalism. In fact, Jean Touitou has stated in interviews that when he started A.P.C., he was told the clothes were unsellable because they were, in fact, too minimal and would not be perceived as valuable. This was back in 1987, so to say that the A.P.C. KANYE collection is not justifiable based on its lack of aesthetic flare misses the point and brand DNA of A.P.C. entirely.
3. A T-shirt—flashy, basic or otherwise—does not have the power to stain or damage the entirety of a culture (though Nas sure tried). Stating such overvalues the influence of this collaboration by perceiving it as anything more than just that: a collaboration. The collection, and the reaction it has evoked, is hyped because it's Kanye West, sure, but I think this fact serves more as a testament to Kanye West's potent fan base than as some greater reverberation throughout culture.
Listen, if you really care about tall tees, read this instead.