The 26-year-old rapper and model’s latest merch drop isn’t really a merch drop at all: it’s Narcissist, a new nine-piece cut and sew collection featuring a selection of striking hoodies, hats, singlets and tees. This week’s initial drop is the first of many: there are denim maxi-skirts on the way, as seen in the photos for the initial drop, as well as, Carti tells PAPER, a wedding dress. The first run of pieces, though, keeps things simple, with classic oversized silhouettes, the spidery Narcissist logo and a handful of intriguing mugshots.
Produced entirely in the US, Narcissist is the fashion arm of Carti’s label Opium, which he plans on expanding into a broader creative hub. Speaking over the phone on the night of Narcissist’s debut collection release, the rapper is enthusiastic and endearingly weird, intentionally vague about his ambitions but thrilled to discuss the inspiration behind the label. Narcissist, he says, is just part of his world takeover: "I just want to be more respected as an artist," he says. "It’s time to show the people what I’m capable of doing."
Read PAPER’s interview with Carti about Narcissist, and see images from the collection, below.
When did you first start thinking about doing a fashion line?
I've been working on this for the last two years.
What made you want to do it?
I've always been a fan of fashion since I was coming up. Even when I wasn't able to afford any, I always knew what I wanted, I always knew how I wanted to be seen. I'm inspired by the world I live in, I'm inspired by the world that I created. This is the uniform for the world I created, that's that's the bottom line.
This is the uniform for your world?
This is our lifestyle, you know what I'm saying? When I wake up, this is already in me and it's already in a lot of people — it's all about being yourself and just expressing your feelings through clothing. I feel like Narcissist is the next biggest thing — we are Vogue, you know what I'm saying? Opium is Vogue. I'm Vogue.
Why the name Narcissist?
That's a good question. It's not about being a dick or being an asshole, it's about just like, being perfect — the best you. It’s hard to explain — it is something that can't be explained, honestly. Like I say, it's a lifestyle. This is not fake. This is a clothing line and this is where it starts.
You said that Opium is Vogue — is this the beginning of a broader fashion world you want to explore?
This is it: world takeover. This is the beginning. I just want to fill in the gap between American fashion and European fashion too, you know? It’s time for people to take us serious and this is how we do it.
What do you feel like the differences between American and European fashion are?
It’s a big difference, you know. I don't want to get too much into that. I respect American fashion just as much as I respect European fashion and that's the whole thing about it. That's why I'm trying to fill in the gap between. It’s time for people to take us serious. There’s not enough American perspective on a high level, like... I don't want to get deep into it, because then I start getting political.
No, come on, get a bit political. What makes you feel like there’s that gap?
I just want to be more respected as an artist, more respected in everything that I do. Fashion is something that I portray in a light and it’s time to like, show the people what I'm capable of doing, you know what I’m saying? I'm Black, plus, you know, I'm not using that as an excuse, because we are talented. I'm using that to show like, shit... Where I come from, man, this shit not even real, you know? Even in this interview, I'm not trying to hold back or anything. What I'm saying is just that I really don't have so much to say. I just want to show.
Totally. Do you have any favorite designers that inspired this collection?
No, my biggest inspiration on my brand is actually tattoos. My tattoo artist, he's crazy — he just tatts me up all the time and he makes crazy designs on me. One day I was just like, "Yo, man, I just need you to make me a logo," and then it was one and done. Pow, it was like tatt-toos, like TATT-toos, tatt-tooos.
Narcissist is nothing but like, for the people who don't give a fuck, for the people who want to stand up and yell whatever the fuck they want to say, for the people who go in the studio and rap about anything they want to fucking rap about. This is for people who wanna, goddamn, just like ah-ah-ah, you know what I'm saying?
It’s crazy — like I say, I love PAPER to death. I appreciate you guys for having me and I would love to keep working with you guys. And I want to thank you guys for being the first ones to do this with me, because this is a monumental moment for me. Opium is the biggest creative [brand] in the world and Narcissist is just the start, to show you guys what we can do.
I love the mugshot hoodies – can you tell me a bit about where those photos came from?
The mugshot hoodie is just like, I told you I'm very locked in with the tattoo world — like, I have the clown girls with me, they're actually tattoo artists. I like a lot of Russian type tattoos, German type tattoos, like, the usual shit. And I was just thinking like, "Yo, you know, chill tattoos are the best type of tattoos." And I have those types of tattoos on my body, as well. It just goes back to me falling in love with the tattoo world and finding out about black and white ink — you know, the black and white ink comes from jail. So that's why people don't have color in their tatts and it's just like [imitates the sound of a tattoo gun] a-a-a-a-a-a-a. It’s like, yo, the people with the best tattoos had these critical moments that was captured, and that was the whole inspiration.
You’ve also got these really interesting skirts in the collection. Can you tell me what inspired those?
We were building, I told my friend that I wanted to make a wedding dress. And at first we had wedding dresses, where we stitched wedding dresses into t-shirts, and we just kept finding different types of fabrics and it went from being a wedding dress to a skirt or a quilt, or whatever. Everything is unisex, by the way.
Totally. When you were designing this, who were you imagining wearing the clothes?
It’s just everybody. This is for everyone.
Photos courtesy of Playboi Carti