Harlem’s Fashion World’s Latest Rapper Heartthrob Playboi Carti

April 19, 2017

Playboi Carti is late to his shoot at an apartment complex on 139th Street in Harlem. Here, the 21-year-old rapper has a gang of publicists waiting for him, while a crew of Grailed employees organizes piles of clothes for him to try on. Carti loves the site Grailed, which is like a virtual candy store for those with a taste for Raf Simons and Balmain. “I’ve always been a thrift store kid,” he later tells me. But these clothes are far from humble thrift store finds: A stylist has draped a $20,000 fur coat and a bevy of other haute goods over the couch. Eventually, he arrives, making a much-awaited entrance in a new pair of sneakers. Who can be angry at him? He’s a lanky, handsome heartthrob, who wears his skinny jeans with serious swagger. “I don’t like baggy clothes,” he says. “I’m a skinny dude, so I think [skinny jeans] look better on me.”

Carti first came onto the scene in 2015 with his song “Broke Boi,” a catchy hit that spoke about a tricked-out Jesus piece and poked fun at squares “in the mall buying ice.” It earned the attention of rappers like A$AP Rocky. Just a few days ago, he dropped his self-titled mixtape, which features singles like “Wokeuplikethis*” and “Magnolia,” and got as high as number four on the iTunes album charts. Carti’s fashion résumé is also impressive: He was in the Yeezy Season 5 show, performed this past season at VFiles with rapper Lil Uzi Vert, and made a cameo in one of Drake’s OVO lookbooks. During New York Fashion Week: Men’s, he headed over to Raf Simons’s first New York show with A$AP Rocky. “That felt like the first time [at a fashion show]. That one was the real deal; it felt amazing,” he says. “I met Raf, and I got the butterflies.”

Following his rise to fashion fame, Carti’s wardrobe is no longer “Broke Boi” (it now includes Balmain), but he has kept a definite down-to-earth, jeans-and-T-shirt vibe. Growing up as Jordan Carter in Atlanta, he always had a different attitude toward clothes than his peers. “I was the first to wear colored skinny jeans,” he says, adding that he was initially made fun of for it. “But then everyone was on it. That is what happens.” Now, his sartorial education mainly comes from other rappers. “I watched artists like Kanye and [A$AP] Rocky and shit,” he says. “Where I am from, people are into designer brands, but not like the cool ones, just like any designer brand, and I wasn’t that type. I used to go out of my way and hit the skate shops and buy Thrasher and Spitfire tees and Fucking Awesome hoodies and shit.”

There’s a charming candidness to Carti. Despite making a few big-ticket purchases (see a $7,000 Rick Owens jacket), he’s still a die-hard vintage fan. “When I see cool [vintage] shirts, I make sure I listen to the band before I put them on because they can have a dope logo, but the music is something else,” he explains. As for what he’s wearing today? There’s no $20,000 fur coat. Instead, he’s gone for a black Undercover x Comme des Garçons sweater and fringed leather jacket, as well as a colorful Supreme cardigan, Supreme tee, and Balmain jeans. It’s all pretty laid-back but polished. That’s a look that fits Carti fine; after all, he doesn’t need anything extra to shine.

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