(Re)Maker: A$AP Ferg | Pop-In@Nordstrom: Faded
This month’s Olivia Kim-curated Pop-In shop – Pop-In@Nordstrom: Faded – focuses on unique, easygoing style for men and women, combining broken-in fabrics and precision craft. Here we zero in on one of our featured brands, AGOLDE.
You know them from rap music, but the whole A$AP crew is into fashion: A$AP Rocky came into the game rapping about Rick Owens and Raf Simons; now he’s in Dior ads, and A$AP Rocky and A$AP Bari are making waves with their VLONE line.
But A$AP Ferg has the coolest fashion pedigree, with his dad’s store Ferg Apparel holding down Harlem in the ’80s and ’90s with luxurious gear and custom sweatsuits, outfitting everyone from neighborhood elders to Puff Daddy.
Ferg is always up to something, fashionwise, and recently with AGOLDE made a line of jeans modeled on his own destroyed pants, his favorite pair of jeans that he wore in his name-making video for the song “Work.”
We chatted with him about his dad’s store, custom camouflage leather and wearing two pairs of socks at the same time.
Thanks for getting on the phone, we are big fans. Your new album is slamming and “Psycho” is such an amazing song.
Oh, man, I appreciate that.
We’re selling your AGOLDE jeans. How did you approach that design process?
The initial thought was to keep it authentic, to keep it me. I used to love this pair of jeans that I wore all the time. And you know when you have that one pair of jeans, and they get rips in them over time, and you patch them up, and it gets a life of its own? I wanted to replicate those jeans for everyone else to wear. AGOLDE, their factory is so good at giving people the authentic look. A lot of people can’t achieve that look dealing with denim. I brought in my original jeans that I wore forever and we made them in different colors: black, grey, blue and darker blue. The jeans we were working from, I wore those in the “Work” video, which blew me up. I remember my fans saying, “Ferg has money now. Why’s he wearing the same jeans all the time?” But I loved them and now I re-created those jeans for everyone to wear.
You were involved in fashion before rapping right? Or was it around the same time?
It happened around the same time. I don’t want to take anything away from the music. It just happened to be that I come from an artsy family. My father was into designing, and he had a clothing store called Ferg Apparel. That’s where I get my logo from, my father’s a graphic designer. He did silkscreening and taught me how to silkscreen. While I did those things, I was always rapping. Going to different neighborhoods and battling kids, writing music.
But I started making money off fashion before I made money off music. I went to an art and design high school, and I started making money off these belts I made from scratch. I would go to Global Leathers in the fashion district, do my own camouflage on the leather, get my leather cut up and do these belts. I had clients like Chris Brown, Swizz Beatz, dropping things off for Wiz Khalifa. I wasn’t even telling these people I made music on the side.
Were you hand-painting the camo on the belts?
Yeah, everything was custom. I would get a big skin of leather, and I would use my own stencils of camouflage on these different colors of leathers. I would go to my guys who sewed my belts up for me—they still do Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan—I went with my idea, 19 or 20 years old, and said I wanted to make belts. I was like, “I don’t have as much capital as these big brands, but I promise you I’ll keep coming back and each time I come back, I’ll have more work for you.” They believed in me and started sewing my belts. I would bring the camouflage leather, customized, and they’d cut it up and stitch it.
What kind of involvement did you have with your dad’s store growing up?
Definitely it was a part of my life. As a younger child, I was doing a lot of custom things, painting my own characters with acrylic paint, using a blow dryer to dry the paint. I went from that, customizing T-shirts, to bleaching denim, bleaching T-shirts to match the denim, doing custom rips and things like that. Then I got into jewelry designing, and from that I got into belts, leather accessories and goods. Then I got signed after that and started doing my own merchandise for tours.
But my father’s store, it was a place where everybody who was anybody from Harlem came. Puff Daddy, whoever, top execs at record labels, if you were known in the neighborhood, you were there. I was exposed to powerful people and creative minds. Just the store in general was dope. It had wooden walls with a chandelier in the middle. And he had his own custom sweatsuits, leather jackets, biker jackets. Anything you could think of, he had. It was good to see growing up because I knew, if he did it himself, I could do it myself. He made it visually possible for me to do what I do. Going to the factories and seeing all these people working for him. Seeing the product folded up, stacked on the floor. It was crazy for me to see. My pops does all this stuff? It was really worldly for me at the time. I got a chance to see, oh, that’s how an entrepreneur is supposed to move.
Wow, he sounds like a legend.
What’s a prominent memory where you realized music and fashion go together?
The most potent memory—and there’s so many—is when Alexander Wang invited us to come to his party. He had Nicki Minaj and all these different people performing, and he knew all the words. But if you didn’t know Alexander Wang, and you just knew the brand, heard his name through his brand, us, coming from the hood, we’re like, “Man, he’s not listening to us.” He’s probably listening to opera or some Michelangelo stuff. Really he’s listening to A$AP Ferg, A$AP Mob and Lil’ Kim. It’s inspired him to do his collections. That’s a very potent memory I had. Another one is Nigo and Pharrell. What Nigo did for hip-hop, bridging fashion and music. He brought us BAPE and, after that, Billionaire Boys Club. Even putting us onto Japanese culture, how serious they are about creating garments, it opened up another world to me.
That’s cool. We interviewed him yesterday.
Wow. I did a campaign for him. He’s so dope.
He’s genuine, I felt.
That’s why it works for him. He’s a young dude just killing the game. He does what feels right to him. It’s like Marc Jacobs, when he brought Kanye and Pharrell to design with him. He understood that these are the new leaders, the new preachers to the churches, the fashion houses being the church. Or these concerts, the Garden is the new church. Madison Square Garden is like church when we’re on the stage. They understand how much power we have. Alexander Wang putting me in his clothes and in his campaign, that’s a milestone. Because we grew up desiring these clothes, wanting to buy them. I remember blowing my first check on an Alexander Wang sweatsuit. You know what I’m saying? I go from that to getting gifts from him because I worked with him on a project.
If you could do another article of clothing similar to these jeans, something that you wore all the time and you remake for mass production, what else would you choose?
Probably some type of socks. I’m a sock fanatic. Everybody loves socks, man or woman, you need ’em. Socks will never stop selling. I would re-create socks that I love. It’s not one specific sock I have in mind, but probably like different prints, a certain type of cotton, cozy and sporty. They gotta fit tight on the foot. I’ll have to conjure up my favorite socks.
Playing basketball, I notice older dudes wearing no-show socks. But kids are more expressive, with taller socks.
Yeah, kids are busting out with the socks.
They don’t know about wearing two pairs at the same time though.
Oh yeah, that’s the Michael Jordan syndrome right there. He used to bust out with the thick socks, double socks. Yeah, that was cool, definitely. Might have to bring that back.