EP. 10 | VLONE
“Every Living Creative Dies Alone”
A$AP Bari always knew the inevitable was coming. For him, the death of VLONE is inescapable.
In this episode, we’re dissecting the A$AP MOB’s fashion venture– VLONE. From the minds of A$AP K and A$AP Bari, VLONE was started in Harlem, NY, circa 2011. Harlem has a deep history when it comes to the arts.
There’s a huge parallel to current wave of music, arts, and fashion coming out of Harlem. It’s very comparable to The 1920s cosmopolitan black culture named The Harlem Renaissance. Harlem was the home of Duke Ellington & Louis Armstrong’s music, Langston Hughes’ poetry, and Aaron Douglas’ paintings. The effect of the Harlem Renaissance even made its way to Paris, by way of Josephine Baker.
Harlem fashion and music alumni include Dapper Dan, Big L, and Dipset. Birthed from this culture, A$AP K and A$AP Bari used fashion as the entry point to their philosophy. VLONE materialized as black T shirts and Hoodies emblazoned with a giant orange V on the back. They would let their crew sport the clothes, as A$AP Rocky and Ian Connor lent their input. Unfortunately, A$AP K left the collective in its early formation, as Bari & Ian spent time cultivating knowledge and consuming upcoming fashion + music. They actively sought to be be as fly and possible, and tried to keep it disciplined through an organic network. VLONE was a big part of who they are, as the logo can be clearly seen tattooed on Ian, Rocky, & Playboi Carti.
VLONE, along with A$AP MOB’s visuals are partly inspired by SPACEGHOSTPURRRP. PURRP, RVIDER KLXN, BLVCK SCALE, and RICK OWENS.
The brand expanded into cut & sew, global pop up shops, collaborations with OFF WHITE, and FRAGMENT DESIGN. VLONE would come full circle with their own Nike Air Force 1. VLONE was well on its way to becoming an iconic premium brand, along the lines of OFF WHITE. If you look deep enough, VLONE really meant something.
VLONE has an inherent duality to it’s meaning, and Ian represents the positive side. Through him, VLONE means being in a class all to yourself. It’s lonely at the top, and you have to stay ahead/above/unattached. Ian seeks out like-minded talent and helps them develop; so that one day they can stand alone, independent.
Bari found a way to become a pillar of the ASAP Mob in his own way- through fashion. He knew creative expression is inseparable across all formats. For him, the VLONE philosophy kept him away from others, not ahead. Like A$AP K before, Carti and Ian distanced themselves from him. A 2017 video leaked of him allegedly assaulting a naked woman. Weather or not a crime was committed, it’s clear that Bari wasn’t getting the affection he felt he deserved. After the incident, Nike severed its ties with Bari, and VLONE significantly slowed its growth.
Why did Bari do this? Why did VLONE plummet as soon as it started soar? Because The Harlem Renaissance ended with the Great Depression. Because someone murdered Big L. Because Dipset members attack eachother. Because the soul of Harlem ebbs and flows, it blossoms then withers.
So what does VLONE teach us? There’s so much to learn, and we’re only scratching the surface.
- EVOLVE YOUR HERITAGE. Take it upon yourself to write the new chapter of your own culture.
- BE AN INDIVIDUAL. Support people who support themselves.
- INSPIRATION IS CYCLE. Success will lead to failure, and failure will lead to insight.
“Every Living Creative Dies Alone.”
VLONE is the ongoing story of Harlem. When the inevitable comes, let’s hope it’s creative energy finds itself high above the world, giving us all something to look up to.
That’s what it means to Push Product.