T H R E A D S: JETT NICHOL DEFINES THE BAG

Interview, Threads

These holidays 22-year-old designer and personal stylist Jett Nichol is dropping some golden knowledge and then taking a one way trip to the United States. It’s his dream to intern for Kanye West. “Me and Kanye are going to be friends one day” he tells me, and somehow, the intelligent part of me can picture it. Jett has a confidence about him, he’s passionate, articulate and has a work ethic to aspire to. Since he moved to Auckland two years ago from Taradale, Hawke’s Bay he’s been flipping burgers for 80 hours a week, at a joint called Better Burger. This year he’s managed to save enough money to buy a Rolex and a new pair of Rick Owens for ‘his bag’. He explains:

“There’s a thing called ‘the bag’ which they mention in hip hop – they’re not talking about money they’re talking about God. Straight up, they’re talking about that feeling in your chest when everything is going correctly and you understand that the stars align sometimes – it’s when you get that feeling in your stomach.

Plans to fill his bag include spending downtime with girlfriend Poppy and swimming and sitting in a Japanese sauna. Having researched everything down to his suitcase when preparing for his trip, to me, it’s a reflection of the designer in him. After Japan the plan is to head to the States solo. “Either New York or LA, I might flip a coin or some shit. Some rooms, you can only get into alone,” he explains. In this interview we talk about the right way to ‘get clout’, styling rappers and having the confidence to recognise your own greatness. “Kanye’s the one guy I wanna work for. Designer’s have always got apprentices. Masters like Yves St Laurent was the apprentice of Dior… My friend Taylor Burn from Auckland though is now Virgil [Abloh’s] personal assistant.”


SERUM: Isn’t it incredible what Kiwis can do these days?

J: Crazy. Kids here are different. There’s actually a demand now, it’s building really fast.

SERUM: Yeah we’ve got so much talent here, like a little concentrated island/country.

J: Cause we’re so friendly. Obviously there’s exceptions but I think we admire the culture of whatever we wanna way too hard. We’re fans but since we’re so far away we get a misconstrued idea of all of it and we end up putting a spin on it into our own shit, the kids here are so different, we’re fire as.

SERUM: Describe what you’re style’s like?

J: Bold, bright, but it’s equally as dark. I don’t know it’s just bold without being dramatic or offensive, like cartoonish I guess. I like big letters, big colours, a lot of textured fabrics, shit you ain’t gonna find in AS Colour.

Shirt designed and made by Jett.


SERUM: Where do you shop?

J: I actually don’t. Last place I shopped was at Zambesi and that was probably like mid to end of last year. I bought some Margiela and some Rick Owen shoes. I don’t like shopping man, there’s so much shit product. When I buy something I have to do a lot of research. I started looking into best suitcases to buy and they were all shit and so dumb. I was like ‘How could I have this? This doesn’t represent me in no way’, so I bought a $300 suitcase, rimowa, aluminum, it’s fucking hard. I like minimal utilitarian products and the best of it. I feel like Rick Owens makes the best shoes in the world. I like to buy really little of high quality things. If I was a girl I would not be touching Glassons or anything.

SERUM: Fast fashion is a big fucking problem.

J: It is. But the best way to get clothes is just like the type of shit you run into in your life – there’s something natural and sexy about it, the way you got it. Some of my favorite pieces ever are pants, jackets that were hand-me-downs from my uncle. They’re ripped and old but it’s just dope. Shit that you find in your parents’ wardrobe as well – it’s that shit that creates the most vivid homegrown styles

SERUM: For you. How much is too much to spend on a garment?

J: None – there’s not too much. Those t-shirts, green ones, $600. Like who the fuck is going to own a t-shirt for $600?! I believe everyone should own their dream pair of shoes, whether they cost $300 or $5k.

I feel like everyone needs their dream pair of shoes as soon as you can afford that shit – get them shits. I mean, what the fuck are people spending money on like what is there?

Drugs.

SERUM: How in your words would you say fashion is an extension of personality and why is it important?

J: It’s all about mood. The word fashion is …fashion is almost like an accessory to style. Style is just essence of character you know. It’s the purest form of someone’s soul, I don’t wanna say soul but it’s really deep rooted. Style is – they know what they’re doing they know where they’re going and why, even if they don’t realise they know. It gets quite spiritual I think style at least and then fashion is there to aid and protect style in a way and sometimes replace it. You get some losers out there that replace style with fashion though.

SERUM: When you wake up how do you know what you’re going to put on?

J: It’s always about what type of character I wanna be that day like what type of movie am I in today. Sometimes I feel minimal like right now I’m wearing black and two white stripes, Ricks. For sure sometimes I feel busy as and I wanna wear mad accessories like patterns, I feel like fucking people off.

SERUM: Name your top four designers.

J: Without saying me times four, lets go Margiela number one because I feel like that was the first guy to inject irony into the industry, like the element of almost dark humour in a way; he really criticised the industry and the ins and outs of it through the clothes which is kind of buzzy. Obviously everyone’s doing it now, the idea of just rarity. That guy, there’s like two known photos of him ever. He was very anonymous, very strange. Doesn’t really have a solid logo either; he’s got a tag that’s blank – all of that shit. So yeah Margiela, coolest.

Prada – it’s uniform, really minimal, classy – you now devil wears Prada, obviously.

Kanye – he’s not my favorite designer in the world but I still think he crushes it. He’s making a lot of statements I mean Season One, that fucked fashion up for sure in menswear.

SERUM: Yeah I fell for that real quick, completely in love.

J: Yeah and I don’t think the effects of that have been seen yet either, people are going to click maybe 10 years later but nah, Season One meant fucking heaps.

SERUM: Also the choreographer he chose for those shows was the same woman – Vanessa Beecroft and I just loved that human installation approach.

J: Yeah it was rare aye.. I think Helmut Lang did that as well. They had a kinda stand-still-army-type vibe.

SERUM: What do you think of celebrity designers?

J: I don’t know if I think anything of celebrity designers. It’s all good, after hearing so many Kanye interviews I try to stay away from the whole class-ism thing. Like try to not box people in you know if there’s a celebrity and they wanna do something different it’s like fuck yeah do it.

Name some..

SERUM: Rihanna, FENTY

J: Rihanna’s so fire. .

KANYE.

J: Who is a shitty one?

Savings from Better Burger.

SERUM: I just think for someone who lives it, breathes it, and then a random comes along and dabbles in it, must get frustrating, no?

J: Well I’m tryna live it. I’ve been doing 80 hours a week there. I’m not even playing, I’ve been just saving money this year to try and bag myself. Aw wait, first designer is Nigo!

Nigo – he designed BAPE and then Human Made – I think BAPE is the best streetwear label ever to do it. It brought streetwear to a really childish place but like, luxury. It was just buzzy like straight out of SpongeBob and then Pharrell… great celebrity designer, shout out to celebrity designers.

SERUM: I mean these days no one is one thing.

J: Yeah it’s kind of a renaissance huh.

Jett & Sizwe worked together at Better Burger.

SERUM: How do you feel about clout chasing ?

J: I’m a clout chaser. LOLS. There’s just a way to do it and a way to not do it – everyone wants to be popping so it’s like – you got to do it but you’ve got to know that you’ve got the bag. You’ve got to chase the clout within yourself rather than following other people’s clout. Sure people can give you followers but no one’s really giving you clout like passion and it always comes down to how you’re feeling inside. That’s where style sits, style is the essence of clout which comes back to God. It’s all very spiritual. You’ve just gotta focus on yourself – watch your own back and don’t bother about anyone else’s. If you can help someone else’s bag do that and if you can see that someone can help your bag – do that. But it’s about your bag, don’t steal anyone else’s cause you’ve got your own right there. Everyone’s got it. The people that are hating or clout chasing the wrong way – they’ve got a bag of their own but they dropped it on the floor, forgot about it and are going after someone else’s. It’s dumb. Focus on your own name, spend a lot of time alone ..

Nah, we’re gonna crush it.

Who’s we?

Me.

CINEMA: Crazy (Not So Rich) Asians

Culture, Feature

Man, diversity is trending like a motherfucker, and although it’s something many of us MTV kids have been waiting for, since time; making sure it isn’t a passing trend is the new mission for all involved in this movement. It’s hard not to question why the inclusion of those who tick the ‘other’ box is suddenly being embraced by mainstream outlets. By now people of colour are already tired of standing up when they say, sitting down when ‘they’ say and dropping everything, when THEY say.

In a time when I thought my well of ideas would burst open and I’d have a million articles to write and express my inner most deepest feelings, instead I froze up. I observed the platforms that were being ‘given’ and ‘provided’ and couldn’t find my voice even when I tried. Over the past few years I watched the #poc #woc #blacklivesmatter #staywoke #metoo narratives unfold online and felt even more confused than before, but I put it down to writers block and kept living.

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Director Jon M. Chu’s film Crazy Rich Asians just became the highest grossing romantic comedy in a decade. Reaching $165.7 million as of this weekend. Starring Michelle Yeoh, Akwafina, Ken Jeong and Nico Santos the movie overflows with decadence, luxury, fine things and fun amidst the strict, non-tolerant to anything other than just do what you know you’re supposed to be doing (become a lawyer, doctor…Prime Minister would be good) world that goes hand-in-hand with cultures who’ve kept their traditions despite westernized influences and dilution. Chu’s screenplay takes you to ‘exotic’ Malaysia and Singapore, and if you’re from those lands (as I am) the mere sight of the pasarmalam (night market) or the use of the word ‘Alamak’ (Oh My God) on a cell phone projects you into a ridiculous deep nostalgia you can’t help but zone in on. Even though your mate from Zimbabwe is next to you balling her eyes out at the unjust heartbreak portrayed on the screen, you forget to ask her if she’s OK (not cool Aleyna) because you’re momentarily homesick and lamenting over the fact that had you not come to New Zealand, become really westernised and chose to disobey your parents at every turn, this could have been your life, once, too.

The beauty of this movie is that it is a romcom – the type of movie which I do and can safely appreciate with my mum – it won’t cause us to talk about our world views or politics or sociology. It is the type of movie where we both simply agree – he’s cute, she’s pretty, that bad guy is actually an asshole and the grandma should keep her 2 cents before she exposes the truth and debunks the entire climax which alludes to fairy tales being a real-life realistic goal to strive for. In romcoms, I don’t remind my mother that I’m radical and potentially a dud child, and she doesn’t remind me that she’s old school. It works.

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“You’re what’s considered Eurasian” she explained to me around the age of 10. “How?” I wondered… You’re Indian and dad’s Chinese and Filipino. I’d watched movies with Spanish content and appreciated the expression and how the language made you feel like you’re allowed to yell at your lover even when you just want them to pass the salt. I’d watched ‘Real Women Have Curves’ featuring America Ferrera and felt less ugly, embarrassed or bad, my 5ft curvy body couldn’t fit anything even at Glassons. I realised tall Caucasian figures were the basis for the pattern making – another Kiwi experience I’d made a conscious-thought-out-decision not to take personally. The term Euroasian sounded too close to European to me and growing up in New Zealand looking Māori or Polynesian made me feel like I wasn’t Euro anything, I simply wasn’t interested in the Euro part – especially after experiencing racism for my skin colour.  I have lived this way since I came into consciousness – dating a white boy once and dumping him immediately for calling Kanye West a racist because he rapped ‘A white man gets paid off of all of that’.

ME: You can’t say he isn’t right Tom!

Tom wasn’t having it and neither was I. My mum’s one chance to welcome home a white boy was obliterated in that moment and my ‘activist’ ‘radical’ sensibilities were birthed and cemented into time.

I identified myself in the female protagonist played by Constance Wu. She was raised in America and free to follow her passions – naive to the benefits of strict traditions. When her mother tells her ‘But you were raised here’ I recognised a strong, very defining statement, of the reality that once you leave your homeland a part of it lets you go too. It sounds sad but one thing having a Kiwi identity affords you is the liberty to not have to conform, to follow your dreams and become an artist if you want to. You’re free from traditional expectation. The catch is, when you’re away for too long, expectation is all you want. ‘One tight slap’ on the face and a good scolding from your Aunty for leaving a wet towel on the bed (culturally insensitive) doesn’t seem so bad when you’re homesick.  

anigif_sub-buzz-698-1534452137-12

In my experience coming from a Euroasian family who immigrated elsewhere, I have access to the traditions but am not obligated to follow them. In my case my parents only spoke English to me, something I was deeply sad about for years. For them we didn’t need Tamil, Malay, Hokkien, Cantonese or Mandarin in New Zealand. ‘Better you go learn French’ my Grandma would casually say to me at the age of 14.  “So I could speak to who?!” I’d balk back. At that time I was not concerned with the array of cute boys who could (and would) speak French in my life. Survival as a little brown female in a Western world was my primary concern, it would be a long time after that in which I’d care about boys.

I was one of those girls who didn’t have to go to temple with the rest of the family because the ceremonies would be long and I’d get bored – my mum assumed. This meant I missed out on weddings and funerals. Chinese New Year was the best though, because in Malaysia there’s this tradition called angpow, where if you’re a child, upon arrival you receive a red envelope filled with money. This part of our culture was one my parents happily let us participate in (maybe it was their version of a DIY economics class). As the visiting foreigners my brother and I would tour the city driving from cousins’ house to aunt’s to great-great-grand-mothers “of your uncle’s second wife’s sister” collecting red envelopes, allowing aunties to feed us and pinch our cheeks – so long as they gave us envelopes.

day14CRA074.dng

My parents immigrated to New Zealand because dad couldn’t handle the fact that the jungle laid land he grew up in and loved so much had given way to a concrete jungle and capitalist priorities. Mum felt the country was becoming corrupt and so we moved to NZ where my younger brother and I enjoyed the fact that we could say ‘fuck’ freely – simply telling our mates our parents were taking us to Whakatāne to holiday. At the time, this felt awesome, now, I understand it’d quite likely be considered culturally insensitive.

What’s interesting in Jon Chu’s narrative is the empowerment it leaves women, particularly Asian women. Whether the character be a single mother who ran to America to raise an illegitimate daughter or an heiress with a shopping problem and unfaithful husband, the movie celebrates the strength of women. It reflects the fact that in many societies across the world it is a woman’s love, strength and patience, resilience and care that should be celebrated and not ignored or taken for granted. In Jon Chu’s film it’s these traits of being a traditional woman that become vital fibers in the fabric that hold a family and sometimes an empire together. Bring on the sequel and the “tsunami” Michelle Yeoh proposed in a NY Screen Times panel discussion where she explains if roles for Asians aren’t created then “We can’t work because of you”.  

 Yeoh is a Malaysian actress who has a net worth of $40 million and a lead role in the American TV series Star Trek. She also says she hopes “It doesn’t matter what race you are I hope that very soon we don’t see us as actors, or filmmakers, as colour, or whatever it is – but storytellers with stories that needs to be told in the right way and represent what we are and who we are”.

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Some criticism of the movie is that although it hosts an all-Asian cast and makes progress for Asian cinema, Alice Truong writes for Quartzy:  ‘It only depicts ethnic Chinese people, who make up a portion of the city-state’s population. The lack of South Asians or anyone with dark skin has the internet suggesting new names for the movie: Crazy Rich East Asians and Crazy Rich East Light-Skinned Asians.”

Editorial: Madiba — “We Are Powerful Beyond Measure”

Editorial, Feature

Matthew Willman 008

The nature of this post is far more personal than any other we’ve published. It is in light of 2013 coming to an end and there will be a few more like it coming as the magazine wraps up and reflects on its first year of existence. WDYFILWHH is about hip hop and its culture. So this includes issues and news exterior to the industry and the artists, rappers, emcees, DJs, producers and other figures in it. I just want to add a HUGE thank you to everyone who has shown support, and shown love so far, it has been an amazing year for us and we look forward to the next year to come. This post raises a fist for Nelson Mandela. Salute.  

Thirteen, in the past hasn’t been a very good number for me. My partner died on the 13th, so did my grandfather. For me, 2013 was more about laying down foundations as opposed to achieving highlights; I knew I needed to work my way out of a very deep low in order to strive toward a more permanent high.  As December rolls so fluidly toward 2014, I am still paving down bricks for this blog and learning to be happier and more comfortable within myself.

Now, as I write this, my Facebook feed snow balls with Nelson Mandela tributes. Yesterday, Thursday December 5th 2013, in the evening, he passed away. He was 95 years old. And as my friends list cottons on to the fact we just lost one of the world’s best people ever, some say it is sad. But I don’t think so. After 27 years in prison and then becoming the first black president of one of the world’s most racist countries; after abolishing apartheid and allowing blacks and coloureds to vote for the first time in their history, I feel like this man’s life should be celebrated. The way the Mexicans do. Because what he did for South Africa, his generation and every colored and black person’s children can’t be measured. And he did it by sacrificing his own personal life. He lost his first love and wife — the mother of his children — the woman who was there with him as he struggled through persecution and 27 years in jail — and then a presidency, Winnie, because his mission for everyone came first.

My son is half South African-coloured. And I feel like, had Mandela not sacrificed his own ‘normal’ ‘nuclear’ family life so that eventually blacks and coloureds would know freedom as the whites had, my mother in-law may not have even come to New Zealand. You weren’t really allowed to travel without being drilled by the authorities she remembers, it would have just been too hard. ‘I remember when you couldn’t talk to a white person, and if you kissed a white person back then, well you went to jail’.

My favorite quote ever is by Mandela, and it’s been on my Facebook ‘About’ section for years. Not just today. It is this one:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within is. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Lately, the things that have happened to me, or given to me, have cause me to reflect on the universe and how one’s journey and experiences just happen to occur. Of course we forge our own way in this world, and we do it by controlling our behaviours and decisions. But lately, there has been ideas of faith and pre-written notions that have occurred to me, because the more I follow the above quote and have faith in the message in it, the more I believe in myself — the more I have got what I want.

The lesson to embrace fear and the feeling of success is certainly one I have housed since last week. Not just today. Getting what you want is scary. Especially  when you have been told (and are still told) for so long you wont and can’t have what you want….

I don’t know anything really, but Mandela passing away today, after a life so courageously lived, to me, is a sign/omen/message — whatever you want to call it, that one has to keep fighting for what they feel is right, what they want to achieve, for what they feel is good. For who we think we are.

Because Mandela did, he rests in power and respect now, but he sacrificed to have it. He sacrificed family and a normal life, and if all we have to sacrifice, subsequently, is failing a few times, losing face and feeling like a dick for a bit, then so be it I say. He deified logic and doubt to win. Now he’ll sit on a throne in people’s hearts  forever, but we have to remember that he had absolutely nothing to start with. If ever I got to meet him, I would have asked how he felt when he heard people complain that things are not fair.

And with all due respect, I want to say —  as a non-South African, I feel connections to this man. And that, to me, suggests the power of someone who really knew how to live life, because he really knew what love is.

Introducing: Hariata Sanders

Editorial, Feature, Music

Whendidyoufallinlovewithhiphop wants to extend mad love to the website’s new writer Hariata Sanders. I met Hari through my friend Swerve (long time bboy and fellow lover of Hip Hop), who gathered from knowing us both so well, we were bound to get along. Unknowing to any of us the importance this friendship would become; after discovering that we both were cut from the same cloth, we also discovered we’re writers. This was two months ago. Hari now lives in Melbourne and will be writing about what she sees there. With the biggest heart and most open mind I’ve met, I can’t think of anyone more perfect to do it either. This is Hari:

photo

If I had to choose a song to pinpoint when I really accepted my own love of hip-hop, it would have to be Kanye West’s first international release – All Falls Down. Since then, I have explored the many realms hip-hop has developed into, alongside trying my best to identify its roots.

Unlike many who had deciphered their love of hip-hop from their own accord, I was almost forced into it all. I was born in the 90’s with two older brothers (five and four years my senior), so naturally I was exposed to hip-hop culture at a very young age. I grew up with the greats blasting in the background – Tupac, Snoop Dogg, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, N.W.A, Cypress Hill and Wu-Tang Clan (not purposefully excluding the MANY others we all respect). Absorbing it all like osmosis that was my first identification of hip hop. Back then I was completely unaware of its remarkable placement in hip-hop history, and also its affect on me. I listened to the Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child like the rest of the girls in my class, but while I was analysing Left Eye’s verses (pausing my TLC cassette every five seconds so I could write down what I’d managed to translate, then hit rewind and read the lyrics aloud alongside her) other girls were tying their t-shirts in knots exposing their 10-year-old navels and teasing me for being too busy to participate.

Naturally, I have a great respect for women making (or that have left) their mark in hip-hop. Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill, Salt-N-Pepa and M.I.A to name a minimal few, have all influenced me greatly as the individual I am becoming, and my opinion on women’s worth. So this is my ode to hip-hop, my tribute to the greats. As I have learned the importance of hip hop in my life, I hope to encourage you to recognise its worth in yours as we explore this vast and fertile world together as mutual lovers and patrons.

I am excited to be reporting for WDYFILWHH as a correspondent based in Melbourne, so stay tuned! We’re going international.

Hariata Sanders.