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Lessons from Kanye West's Fashion Class
A breakdown of the takeaway lessons from his fashion career.

Kanye West, self professed god and former Fendi internis teaching fashion courses at L.A.’s Trade Technical College. The deal is part of a community service sentence West received in January after attacking a paparazzo. Instead of serving jail time, West cut a deal for 24 months of informal probation and 250 hours of community service.

Forgoing more traditional community service routes like garbage duty, the rapper has been serving his sentence by leading one three hour lecture at a time. He allegedly spent his lecture slot detailing “the business of fashion and his personal experience within the fashion industry.”

What does that mean?

Judging from his penchant to drop everything for a long-winded rant, West’s lectures are sure to be nothing if not inspiring. The rapper, known for his repeated attempts to break into the fashion industry, undoubtedly has some wisdom for other aspiring designers. Among his steady flow of fashion-drenched raps and pearl-embossed shoes, West reveals the true lessons any emerging designer or fashion enthusiast should know about the business that never eats.

We’ve gone through several of his songs to find the take-away lessons from his fashion class. Now, when he stops by Ryerson or OCAD, we’ll be ready.

“So if the devil wear Prada
Adam, Eve wear nada
I’m in between but way more fresher” – Can’t Tell Me Nothing

Fashion is about balance. Achieve this balance by finding the sweet spot between wearing head-to-toe Prada and walking around completely naked. Find your own balance between nudity and designer duds and you too can be “in between but way more fresher”.

Takeaway lesson: Mix old with new to create your own signature look.

“”What you doing in the club on a Thursday?’
She say she only here for her girl birthday
They ordered champagne but still look thirsty
Rock Forever 21 but just turned thirty” – Bound 2

Fast fashion is not cool. Instead, opt for a few quality pieces and don’t forget to hydrate. Thirsty isn’t a good look for anyone.

Takeaway lesson: Quality trumps quantity.

“I’m like the fly Malcolm X, buy any jeans necessary
Detroit Red cleaned up” – Good Morning

Jeans are a key component in everyday style. When buying jeans, don’t be afraid to try going outside of your comfort zone to find the pair that really works for you.

Takeaway lesson: Go-to everyday basics are hard to find. Don’t settle for anything less than perfection.

“Doing clothes, you would have thought I had help
But they wasn’t satisfied unless I picked the cotton myself” – New Slaves

Attention, aspiring designers: do not let any part of your collection get overlooked. Every detail, down to the type of fabrics used, should be hand chosen by you. This is the only way to ensure total satisfaction and control over your desired end result.

Takeaway lesson: If you want something done right, do it yourself.

“Dinner with Anna Wintour, racing with Anja Rubik
I told you muthafuckas it was more than the music
In the projects one day, to Project Runway” – Cold 

Having dinner with Anna Wintour is the mark of true success in the fashion world. You haven’t made it unless the Editor in Chief of Vogue herself agrees to accompany you for a meal before you disappear into the night to race with supermodels. But “making it” in fashion can be confusing. Kanye has never been from the projects or on Project Runway. Here we see the first-hand effects of fame on an emerging young designer.

Takeaway lesson: Don’t forget where you came from (or where you’ve been).

“You don’t see just how wild the crowd is?
You don’t see just how fly my style is?
I don’t see why I need a stylist
When I shop so much I can speak Italian” – Champion  

If you spend enough time shopping you will begin learning how to speak Italian. Sure, impromptu lessons in the language of love from ateliers in Milan can be expensive but, really, you can’t put a price on an immersive experience.

Takeaway lesson: A second language will help your fashion career. Fashion is a global business.

“The Lyor Cohen of Dior Homme
That’s Dior Homme, not Dior, homie” – Devil In A New Dress

Skip amateur hour and take the time to learn proper pronunciation. This seems obvious, but do you really know how to pronounce Ermenegildo Zegna, Essey Miyake, Nicholas Ghesquière or Monique Lhuillier? You should probably figure that out too. Oh, and TSE is pronounced “say”.

Takeaway lesson: Fashion is intentionally shitty sometimes. Do not fall victim to the trap of mispronunciation. It’s Dior Homme, not Dior, homie.

 “Man, I promise, I’m so self-conscious
That’s why you always see me with at least one of my watches
Rollies and Pashas done drove me crazy
I can’t even pronounce nothing, pass that Ver-say-see” – All Falls Down

Here, a prelude to Kanye’s lesson on pronunciation. It is worthwhile to note that everyone has to start somewhere and even Kanye doubted himself in the beginning of his career. It is also so worthy to note that being self-conscious isn’t always a bad thing; staying self-aware will help to keep your feet on the ground.

Takeaway lesson: Wear a watch; stay humble; stay hungry.

Photo via Instagram user lovetiffanylavone.
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Claudia McNeilly is Toronto Standard’s style writer. Follow her on Twitter.

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