What Ever Happened To Kanye West's 'Pastelle'?

What Ever Happened To Kanye West's 'Pastelle'?

For all his forays into the world of fashion, Pastelle might just be the unreleased (and forgotten) line we need the most.

For all his forays into the world of fashion, Pastelle might just be the unreleased (and forgotten) line we need the most.

Text: Thomas Chou

It’s no secret that Kanye West has made great waves in fashion — from his perhaps infamous stutter shades, to his wildly successful Adidas collaborations, to his YEEZY line which is creeping up on Season 7, West has undoubtedly helped to derail the narrow perspectives on what constitutes high fashion and style. Wriggling his way into the tight-knit and sometimes snobbish world of fashion, he’s solidified his standing as a serious designer with a unique and singular creative vision.

But established commercial successes aside, die-hard fans of West may remember his teased clothing line, Pastelle, all the way back in 2008. A now-archived collection of samples ranging from t-shirts, varsity jackets, women’s handbags, and more, much of West’s original fashion brainchild remains under wraps, never to have seen the light of day (or social media). Pastelle, a clothing line created with a wide range of creative consultants including Virgil Abloh, Kim Jones, and KAWS was inevitably shelved, although a definitive reasoning why has yet to be understood. Was it the Taylor Swift debacle? Was West losing sight of the brand’s creative vision, or did he simply need a break? While we may never know the real answer, what we do know is that Pastelle samples serves as somewhat like a time capsule — it’s a glimpse into the mind of late 2000s West, capturing a design and aesthetic evolution over what is now an entire decade.

In an story published by Complex, original collaborators brought on board by West while brainstorming Pastelle released never-before-seen sketches and pieces from the clothing line.

Featuring bold graphics like a twisted piano keyboard interlaid with roses, or a massive logo-ed out varsity jacket, Pastelle shows off a side of West that fans and buyers don’t really get an opportunity to see in his work today. Instead of sticking faithfully to muted nudes and natural tones, Pastelle was brighter, perhaps a little more accessible. What sets Pastelle apart from his published body of fashion is a sense of playfulness and femininity, traits that are a little harder to find in oversized gray and army green sweatshirts a la YEEZY every season. Despite being comprised of louder colors and more outlandish graphic overlays, Pastelle feels more down-to-earth, and more wearable than anything we’ve seen from West so far. Perhaps West’s focus on penetrating the restrictive circle of high fashion and couture clouded over the more humble roots of Pastelle, putting what would be the rapper and designer’s most wearable clothing line onto the back burner. Instead of focusing on strictly fashion forward, gender neutral silhouettes and tones that he seems to be drawn to as of recent, Pastelle drew heavily from vintage motifs. Another major difference is the price point — a reported range of $50-$150 Pastelle t-shirts sounds a bit more accessible than his price points for YEEZY.

For an enormous body of work shrouded in mystery, it’s a shame to see so much creative potential being kept under lock and key. Maybe West feels that the moment to release Pastelle has unfortunately passed, or perhaps it was all a creative exercise not intended to be released commercially. Had West released Pastelle back in the 2000s, it’s difficult to rationalize his current body of work with these archived designs. It’s clear that Kanye West has changed over the long decade that Pastelle has been shelved, and it’s obvious that his design aesthetic has refined. Will he ever release Pastelle into the arms of his hungry, hypebeast consumers? It’s difficult to speculate the complex percolations of a genius’ mind.

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