Wait, What’s So Wrong With The A.P.C. KANYE “Hip-Hop” T-Shirt?

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.

  • Daniel S

    “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.”

    You’re right, and “Hip-Hop t-shirt” is precisely the opposite of general and arbitrary.

    • Lawrence

      “Hip-hop,” as a descriptor, is one of the most subjective signifiers we have in pop culture today.

      If you think it was being used in specific and purposeful bad taste then you should probably write a strong worded letter to A.P.C.

  • jack

    jake woolf to the fuckin rescue

  • Kanye the GAP Employee

    It’s a $120 USD white T-shirt…that’s what is wrong with it.

  • The News

    Even when Complex Magazine insults someone, it’s still in list form. Now I know why Jake Woolf got canned by Hypebeast…word to Eugene Kan.

    • Jake Woolf

      Factually inaccurate. But yeah I’m rihht there with you on the word to Eugene, he’s awesome.

      • Kevin

        Kevin Ma here. Jake Woolf was indeed fired from Hypebeast for treating a pair of Cole Haan LunarGrand wingtip’s like an Avatar fleshlight. Needles to say, we don’t need that type of cocksmith on team HB.

  • OJ

    Its not expensive you people are poor

  • Andy

    Maybe everyone is mad because Kanye made a bunch of people look at a brand they hadn’t looked at before. That is not the only $120 plain white T in APC’s collection … Don’t buy them because that’s ridiculous, but don’t be mad at it. It’s what they do …

  • WAVY

    You’re stanning way too hard with this one smh

  • Billy Bats

    I’m not sure what’s worse, Jake Woolf’s writing or the T-shirts he designs for his “brand.”

    http://woolf.bigcartel.com/product/lupus-tee

    • Jake Woolf

      Oh, you mean the T-shirts I made for charity to donate to the memorial fund of the Newtown, CT shooting (the town where I grew up)? You mean those T-shirts?

      • Billy Bats

        Nope, I mean the Lupus tee. You’re a fuckin hack and a groupie.

  • Geoffrey

    I have a tee from apc. Its lovely.

    A black version of me would buy this, because it has understatement, quality, and relevance.