Brand Loyalty is a column that explores one person’s obsession with a brand, silhouette, garment, or color.
“I am fashion,” Young Thug told Hypebeast last February. “I don’t think I can even get in no deeper. I wake up and breathe this.”
Thugga’s willingness to try anything—skirts, gowns, skinny jeans, rare Raf, seen-it-everywhere Gucci pieces, floor-length furs, little girl’s dresses—is indeed the very essence of fashion. Obsessive, always changing, always moving forward, purposely inscrutable. Plenty of stylish people have a“look,” a “signature piece,” a “go-to silhouette.” Thug has none.
Except blouses. To be clear: not shirts, not button-downs, not tops. Blouses. Like the white ruffle-bib blouse, designed by Anne Fontaine (a French designer known for her ornate white blouses favored by snobbish Parisian grandmothers), he wore to an all white party in Atlanta in 2015. . Or the black lace blouse he wore to his birthday party in 2016. He posed for Dazed in 2015 in a blood-red beaded lace Gucci blouse, and a silk paisley Gucci blouse with a pussy-bow. His taste in labels ranges from nonexistent to creme de la creme: there’s his handmade Saltillo blanket-stripe blouse in a 2016 video with Usher, and a Versace silk blouse, printed with the house’s signature baroque cacophony of gold scrolls and chains, at Future’s birthday party at Miami’s Versace Mansion in 2017.
He wears them in the same way, always: tight, unbuttoned to the middle of his chest, and accented with mountains of chains. (The exceptions are those Dazed looks, but their fabrics—fancy and delicate—cut place them squarely in the blouse taxonomy.) They are super sensual—even more so than we’ve come to expect from Thugga, a man who describes absolutely anything he likes as “sexy.”
If most of Thugga’s fashion choices assert his singularity—only he can pull it off—his blouses place him in a lineage of male icons, mostly musicians from the 1960s and ’70s, who flirted with femininity to advance, and to toy with, their sexual appeal. There’s Jim Morrison, of course, and Jimi Hendrix, and Mick Jagger: guys who, like Thug, also had feminine haircuts and bodies shaped like exclamation points. And most importantly, they had a pulsing sexual energy that was impossible for anyone, especially their straight male fans, to come to terms with. It’s like they want everyone to be attracted to them, even if it inspires discomfort—and maybe because it inspires discomfort. I will make all men feel the homoerotic feels!, says the rock star in a blouse. It’s not merely that the chest is an erogenous zone; any B-grade rock star can take his shirt off. The point is that it’s being exposed beneath a women’s garment. That’s what made Kanye West in that Celine blouse in 2011 so thrilling and bizarre, especially when you see that Phoebe Philo had it buttoned all the way up on her female model when she put it on the runway.
Thugga’s been wearing blouses less and less recently, mostly because he seems to have pivoted in the opposite torso-covering direction: turtlenecks. As his then-stylist JoJo Zazur, told Pitchfork in 2015, “Sometimes he’ll do stuff on purpose that he knows will piss people off. If people start talking shit about his nails being red, he’ll put crystals on the nails. Talk about his jeans, he’s like, ‘I want tighter jeans.’ He goes out of his way to make sure people know he doesn’t care. He finds it funny, ‘cause at the end of the day, he’s setting a trend.” Of course, the only thing more insanely erotic—or maybe just erotically insane—than looking like you’re in the middle of getting undressed is suddenly dressing like a rich, uptight never-nude.