Mr West and His "Skirt"

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Fashion is a phenomenon not easily understood. As one of the most common forms of art, it doesn’t just clothe you — it defines you. Lately, there has been much debate regarding the worlds of high fashion and hip-hop colliding. However, this is nothing new. Rewind to 1996 and you see The Notorious B.I.G. introducing Versace into the game with his tailor made silk shirts during the video for Hypnotize. Snap back to the present day, and you see Kanye West wearing a skirt

The issue of men rocking skirts isn’t just isolated to Mr West. Spring collections from Paris and London in 1984 were the first to show off mens' skirts. The designers came under much criticism, but nothing like what Ye is currently receiving. During the The 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief, he came out for a 20 minute set sporting a Givenchy leather kilt, Pyrex Vision hoodie and Balenciaga Arena sneakers. The appearance was quickly followed by a fierce wave of homophobic slurs, jabs and jokes, as well as speculation that he’d taken his love of fashion too far. The question was asked, do skirts on men have a place in hip-hop? Well, the thing is..technically what Ye’s wearing isn’t a skirt

What he’s wearing is a black leather kilt, defined as:

A knee-length garment with pleats at the rear. The word kilt originated from Scotland in the 16th century

A skirt, on the other hand:

is a tube- or cone-shaped garment that hangs from the waist and covers all or part of the legs. In the western world, skirts are usually considered women’s clothing. However, there are exceptions

The major differences are the pleats and layering of a kilt. Skirts are typically made in single layers


Originally, the kilt was part of the Watch The Throne aesthetic. At the helm is head creative designer for Parisian label Givnechy — Riccardo Tisci. Tisci is the same man who influenced West to rock his leather kilt. An excerpt from Tisci’s interview with GQ Magazine holds part of the key as to how the designer got Ye in such a striking piece:

The Tisci model is not a man who could be dominated in any fight or sex act; rather than “beauty,” his primary trait is “power”

Above: a man who knows a little something about power

Mens' kilts date back to ancient times. During this period they were tunics or wrapped cloth for everyday wear. They were seen in ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations. The typical Roman menswear for the time is pictured below:

Yeezy’s kilt design has reaped inspiration from Ancient Greek and Roman dress pieces worn by gladiators, officers and Emperors alike. Obviously, Ye is no solider but the way battle skirts have been worn in history are synonymous with power and rule. See hip-hop’s favorite skirted man, Russell Crowe, wearing a skirt for his role in Gladiator

Even more gangsta than Maximus, Mars, the Roman deity of Wars, is often pictured wearing a layered battle skirt


Kanye’s decision to wear the kilt comes from its inherit meaning and association with the Watch the Throne aesthetic. Yeezy and Hov are proclaiming themselves the undisputed rulers of hip-hop. The kilt provides a visual representation of Kanye’s drive to be the best. Coupled with abundant related references in his lyrics, a running theme starts to appear. The first single from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was titled “Power”. The video explicitly showed a taste for ancient Roman and Greek iconography and portrayed the rapper as a Godly figure

Furthermore, it must be noted that the piece is only worn during live shows, so it’s not an everyday fashion choice — it’s for his character. The line between persona and person is blurred for every rapper, but especially so in Yeezy’s case. His character is “Kanye West the artist,” the one people see on stage and on the Internet

The bottom line is that Kanye is a performer who claims to be the best — just like everyone else. He chooses to imply that through not just music but performance too — part of that being what he wears. His rant from when Niggas in Paris was played 11 times in Paris during the Watch The Throne tour sums this up:

Let me explain something to ya’ll about rap music, rap music, stadium music, arena music. No body does a song mother fuckin' 10 times! I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what stadium you rockin' in — try to do your song more than 3 times, see what happen! This is the mother fuckin' Throne!!!

I mean shit, if Ye’s going to be on the Throne, he may as well dress accordingly


What are your thoughts on Kanye and his kilt? Comment below or hit me up @Mhealx