A$AP Mob continues its cultural domination with A$AP Bari’s Vlone streetwear line, which launched it’s Vlone x Nike Air Force 1 during one of New York Fashion Week’s buzzier pop-up events (Feb 10), on 116thStreet in Harlem, right up the block from where A$AP Mob spent their formative years.
As throngs of fans and sneakerheads crowded the streets outside, Billboard caught up with A$AP Bari to discuss all things Vlone.
Did you wake up one morning and know that Vlone was going to be the name of your brand?
At one point in time, I was broke. I didn’t have much, so a lot of things were connecting with me, like Kid Cudi’s “All Along” song. We were switching up the A to a V in the word “alone.” So the whole meaning came from alone, and then I switched it to Vlone, and made it my own and made it my own meaning which is “live alone; dive alone.”
What does black and orange represent in the design of your pieces?
Black is a solid color. It’s like orange is the new black. That’s how it all came about. It all came down to the Knicks’ colors being black and orange. That’s like the signature New York shoe.
Known by many to fall under the moniker of Harlem World, the nickname of an area filled with endless culture, inspiration and influence is a perfect fit due to it effortlessly being its own entity in comparison to notable boroughs within New York City. Aiming to continue a legacy carried on by names such as Pee Wee Kirkland, Ma$e, Cam’ron and an endless list of others, Harlem’s own A$AP Bari has managed to provide a creative vision for those who can relate to Harlem culture and its lifestyle via VLONE. Over time, VLONE’s popularity has skyrocketed thanks to a selection of limited releases of apparel and accessories in addition to spontaneous pop-ups, art exhibitions and spontaneous teasers. Now add to that the very limited release of the collaborative VLONE x Nike Air Force 1 Low. The silhouette was finally made avaible to the public via a special VLONE Pop-Up shop in Harlem, fittingly right next to Amy Ruth’s, as part of New York’s Fashion Week.
As you step foot into the VLONE x Nike pop-up, you’re engulfed into the essence of Harlem during New York City’s summer scene, despite remnants of a previous snowstorm gracing the edge of sidewalks and street corners. Collaborative VLONE x Nike Basketballs grace concrete-like displays while photos of notable Harlem locations, the A$AP Mob and much more grace the walls complemented by orange detailing. You’ll find the aforementioned summer aesthetic via the pop-up’s special basketball court which dons VLONE’s traditional colorblocking of black and orange — complemented by an orange chain-link fence as its surrounding and topped off with a black chain-link net to give off an unexplainable New York City sound each time a shot is taken and made.
While visiting the VLONE x Nike pop-up, we chatted with A$AP Mob member and VLONE co-founder A$AP Bari on Harlem’s impact to culture as a whole, favorite memories surrounding the Air Force 1 model, the future of VLONE and much more.
Today, ASAP Bari is finally opening the doors to his weekend-long VLONE x NikeLab pop-up in Harlem. The pop-up, located at 113 West 116th St., will carry various VLONE items, including the insanely hyped Air Force 1s, clothing, accessories (a headband, basketball, and pins), and white AF1s that will be customized by an artist on the spot.
We stopped by the pop-up yesterday for a media preview. By the time we left, there was already a line—hours before the pop-up even opens to the public. While we were there, we spoke to Bari about VLONE, whether or not he ever expected the brand to get this big, and if he’s planning a wider release for the special AF1s. Of course, we also had to ask the question on everyone’s mind: What’s up with the VLONE x Nike AF1 high he teased?
Over time, VLONE has managed to gain a faithful cult following thanks to its creativity and collaborations alongside the likes of Virgil Abloh’s OFF-WHITE, as well as Nike. In the latest issue of French-based Dull magazine, VLONE’s own A$AP Bari announced the creative entity’s future plans, expressing that VLONE’s current state of popularity is only the beginning.
Check out a portion of the conversation with Bari below and read the interview in full in Dull‘s latest issue, available on shelves now.
Are you married to fashion? Will you always design clothes?
My whole thing is clothes, food, music. That’s my whole shit. Anything that I’d like to produce is either clothes, food or music.
I was always into food. Before I was into clothes, I was into food. When I was younger, you know, being from Harlem, it was music first, then food, and now clothes. That’s all we do. But, I was always into cooking, you know. My uncle taught me how to cook at a young age.
Could you see VLONE doing its own spin on food?
Yea. Hell yea. Most definitely. I’m trying to be on my Nigo shit. I gotta get a VLONE barbershop. A VLONE cafe, a VLONE parfait. VLONE everything.
A$AP Bari of A$AP Mob kicked off the VLONE pop-up at Art Basel Miami recently. At the pop-up, fans can expect a collection of limited pieces to be available including painted denim, signature VLONE “V”-branded items alongside Nike, as well as capsule drops in conjunction with No Vacancy Inn, OFF-WHITE and Marino Infantry. The label is also offering a chance to buy the rare VLONE x Nike Air Force 1s via an in-store raffle. With retail prices ranging from $175 to $250 USD, the Miami pop-up is set to run from December 1 to December 4. Check out what went down on day one of the VLONE Art Basel Miami pop-up.
Imagine growing up in Harlem and Nike asking you to make your own pair of Air Force 1s or, as you’d call them, Uptowns. That’s exactly what ASAP Bari is dealing with right now, as his clothing brand, VLONE, is the most recent collaboration on the sneaker that’s approaching its 35th birthday.
The sneakers themselves are black with orange highlights, made from premium leather, and debuting at ComplexCon, which is going down right now in Long Beach, California. We had the opportunity to talk to Bari about what this project means to him and his neighborhood. Edison Chen, the Hong Kong entertainment mogul and co-founder of CLOT, was also able to provide insights on why the Air Force 1 remains a massive sneaker almost three and a half decades after they were first released.
A$AP Rocky announced to the world via tweet (and crying Benedict Cumberbatch GIF) last weekend that “Cozy Tapes Vol. 1” was finished.
“Cozy Tapes” has been a labor of love and devotion for Rocky. The project, which features multiple A$AP Mob members, was initiated by close friend A$AP Yams, who died suddenly in early 2015. While there’s no release date yet for “Cozy Tapes,” we’re one step closer today with the release of the film “Money Man,” which includes two tracks from the album.
The intense 12-minute short film was directed by AWGE, A$AP Rocky’s creative collective, and tells the tragic story of Rina, a character trapped in a world of crime and misfortune. It is soundtracked by the song “Money Man” featuring A$AP Nast and a second song featuring Skepta. Both songs were recorded at Red Bull Studios London.
The film — shot over three days in northwest London — also features A$AP Nast and Skepta. Also making an appearance is Said Taghmaoui, the screenwriter and actor, who starred in the groundbreaking 1995 French film “La Haine,” upon which the “Money Man” film takes its inspiration, and the acclaimed David O. Russell movie “Three Kings.”
Last month, A$AP Rocky dropped the track “Crazy Brazy” — featuring A$AP Rocky, the Atlanta rapper Key! and A$AP Twelvvy — which is also on “Cozy Tapes.” In an interview with MTV, Rocky called the album “an introduction to a new cozy way. It’s really rap-punk meets alternative underground.”
“It’s like the X-Men, and we’re a group of mutants,” says A$AP Bari of Vlone, the cult-fashion label that he helms alongside A$AP Rocky. “I’m Professor X just trying to bring people together to change the world.” To continue the metaphor, these mutants’ special powers are, essentially, their own fiercely particular type of personal style, or as Bari puts it, “Everybody that’s a part of Vlone has his own thoughts and creative vibe.” In the three years since the brand launched, it has garnered a following that extends far beyond the A$AP Mob: Fashion-forward music impresarios like Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa have worn the line, drawn to it for its various street-culled inspirations. This season, that translated into working with Virgil Abloh of Off-White on some pieces, as well as casting fellow rapper Lil Uzi Vert to model for the lookbook.
“Uzi is a young, up-and-coming artist, and he’s living the Vlone lifestyle,” said Bari. The Lamborghini convertible and Yamaha motorcycle featured in the shoot are there to represent the artist’s dreams realized. “Having the car he has always wanted, the bike he’s always wanted,” said Bari, “doing the things he likes to do. It might seem bourgeoisie or whatever, but it’s really about Uzi being happy in life.” The casting was a matter of art imitating life. Bari first met Uzi after he gave a shout-out to Vlone on his track “Ready Set Go (VLone).” Bari also liked Uzi’s laissez-faire approach to style. “He doesn’t care what he wears—he’s a rock star, and that’s why I love him,” said Bari. “He’s not a follower. He doesn’t dress like me or Rocky.” And as for the other half of Vlone, Bari says it’s a creative partnership the pair share, with the two engaged in something of a constant discussion. “Sometime I take Rocky’s suggestions, and sometimes he takes my suggestions,” said Bari. “Everything, including the design process, is based on a freestyle . . . back and forth, and we brainstorm.”
When A$AP Rocky released his Live. Love. A$AP mixtape, all the rules went out the window. Rocky belonged to A$AP Mob, a group of friends from Harlem who had built a fierce fan-base through a handful of free releases. Along with Drake’s OVO crew and the since-disbanded Odd Future, the Mob defined a new era of rap where groups of talented friends could boost each other to success. Two album cycles later, they’ve moved on to disrupting fashion.
“I make my own trends, my own style, my own lifestyle,” explains A$AP Bari, the Mob’s resident style expert. Along with Rocky, he helms the concept brand VLONE. “Nobody’s gonna hear you if you’re not out there yelling in their face,” he adds. With his husky whisper, it’s hard to imagine him yelling in anyone’s face. What the 24-year-old is getting at, though, is that it pays to be bold. VLONE lacks fashion industry traditions like seasons, set release dates, or an online store; that hasn’t deterred the brand’s devoted fans, though. On the opening day of VLONE’s Los Angeles pop-up in the arts district, a line stretched around the block hours before the doors would even open. Some die-hard fans had been camping out since the night before, when Bari and Rocky had presented their new “Freestyle” collection. It was modeled by skateboarders sliding and grinding along a two-story ramp.
The next morning, Bari skates around the warehouse space, modeling a look that Rocky will wear two days later when he takes the stage at Coachella: a pair of sweatpants emblazoned with flames and a sweatshirt stamped with the Donnie Darko quote, “Every living creature on Earth dies alone.” Like the rest of the collection, Bari dreamed up the outfit in only 24 hours. He credits this brisk creative pace to “magic, baby.” Like the spray-painted walls around us, the fit is inspired by Bari’s new home, California, and the scenes it reminds him of: “punk, metal, hip-hop and skate culture.”