Have you ever walked by a store in Soho with a bustling line of flashy, half-shark, half-ape mythological hybrids and wondered what the hell is going on?
That happened to me recently, and I decided right then and there (outside of Bape), that I needed to feed my inner hypebeast. I thought about reading Complex or Hypebeast itself and trying to decipher the latest trends, but I knew the perfect person to help.
Enter Leon Schmidt.
You can learn a lot about fashion from Leon, a high school junior from L.A. I did just by talking to him at Kirsten Hair’s wedding last September (his cousin and my good friend).
He was wearing Commes des Garcons sneakers and had this whole casual, yet intimidatingly put together, thing going on. I was impressed.
After reading this interview, you will be too.
He’s knows his streetwear, and he’s here to educate and inspire you.
We talked about specifics like the hottest hypebeast brands right now, if hypebeast is a bad word and terms a 31-year-old can use to sound cool, but also deeper topics like how to create your personal style and how rap and skateboarding influence fashion.
Let’s get into it.
Larry: Where did your sense of style come from?
Leon: Getting into rap music, and also being in school. I remember in 8th grade I used to just wear shirts with Batman on it or like my favorite superheroes. And then my friend group starting dressing better and they were getting more girls and were looking better, so I wanted to look better. And then just getting into rap, you see your favorite rappers dress well, like ASAP Rocky or Playboi Carti. So you go from seeing what they’re wearing and see what looks good on you and it evolves from liking someone’s style. You copy it at first, and then you find your own style.
Which brands are you liking most right now and why?
Definitely Supreme. Just because it’s the quintessential hypebeast brand. I’m kind of stepping away from it a little bit just because it’s getting overplayed. There’s some classic pieces like the photo tees with Three 6 Mafia, Ghostface Killah or the Morrissey one.
Those are my favorites, but they’re super expensive. At least where I live, everyone has a Supreme shoulder bag.
I’m also really liking vintage Bape. Not Bape from right now but Bape from when Nigo was the designer, just because I think the quality was better. The designs were much more thought out. They weren’t just the shark camo over and over and over again. I have a couple tees from the Bape Marvel collab, and those have really interesting designs compared to just the normal shark hoodie.
Definitely Nike also. They were kind of overshadowed by Adidas since 2014 to the end of 2017 maybe, Nike was off the radar a little bit just because of Yeezy and the Boost technology they had in Ultraboost and NMD’s. No one really cared that much about Nike, but I think when Virgil Abloh did his collaboration series, The Ten, brought back a lot of hype.
You know, most people rock Nikes, especially Jordans. The ones and fours are the most popular silhouettes right now.
The last thing I really like right now is Uniqlo. I really think they have great quality, and they have a great price for everything. It’s the best essentials brand in my opinion. They have the best plain t-shirts, the best jeans, the best socks – that type of thing. They’re also better quality from H&M. I had a shirt from H&M and it shrunk in the wash but a shirt from Uniqlo I can have for a long time.
Where do you go to stay up on the latest style news?
Instagram, just because Instagram is very photo friendly, and when you scroll through recommended, at least for me, it shows me fashion things. But a lot of times Instagram recommended can be annoying because it just shows you the hypebeast, most generic things you can be wearing.
Those are the two that I watch a lot. Everything’s easy to understand and then they also do interesting things with the clothes. Both of them have Instagram accounts too so you can see what they’re wearing.
From your perspective, is the term hypebeast a bad thing?
It can be both. A lot of people at my school might say I’m a hypebeast, you know, I like Supreme, but I think I do it with taste. It’s really entertaining to watch people that are hypebeasts to the most, you know they’re wearing Supreme t-shirts, Bape sweatpants, Off-White Jordans and have a Supreme waistbag. It’s entertaining, but it’s not really how I want to dress because you kind of just look like a brand whore. So I think hypebeast is a double-edged sword. It’s cool to know what’s going and what brands are cool right now, but at the same time, you don’t wanna be that one guy who wears only Supreme, Bape, Off-White, or Yeezys. Just in general I don’t like Yeezys as much on guys, but on women they look a lot better.
What are some terms a 31-year-old like myself should know if I wanted to sound cool talking to someone like yourself?
Definitely drip. Drip is the only word I can think of right now. Drip is kinda like swag, but a little different. A lot of rappers have drip cause like their watch is expensive, the ice is dripping. It basically just means you look fresh. It’s a synonym for fresh or swag, whatever words like that were in the past.
Similarly, what’s something people do where you immediately know they’re a poser? (I’d like to avoid these things.)
You know someone’s a poser from two things, in my experience. You know if they wear a shirt with a graphic on it, like a Nirvana shirt, but if they can’t name a Nirvana song, they’re a poser. They’re not actually a fan of Nirvana. You know if I wear a shirt with a movie on it, it’s not just because I thought it looked cool, I’ve seen that movie and I like that movie. Or if it has Tupac on it, it’s because I listen to Tupac. It’s not “oh that’s some famous dude from the ’90s.”
The other thing is they’ll wear stuff based on what other people like instead of what they personally like.
Are there any online shops you like people should know about?
Grailed.com is where everyone should be shopping. That’s where I buy most of my clothes. They have everything. They have Supreme, like those type of brands, the super hype brands, and then they have Gucci, Ferragamo, Burberry, Louis Vuitton and then they even have like J Crew or Pac Sun. And then they have vintage stuff, too. They really don’t sell anything that’s for women, though.
What’s your favorite piece of clothing and or sneakers you have right now?
My favorite sneakers right now are either my Adidas Yung-1’s ’cause they kinda look like the Yeezy 700s, but they’re a lot cheaper and have a nicer colorway in my opinion. Or my Cactus Jack 4’s, the Travis Scott Air Jordan 4’s. Those are super nice.
The best shirt I own right now is either my Travis Scott tour t-shirt from 2014 because it looks like a vintage tour t-shirt. It’s kinda faded and the graphic is super cool, or my Bape marvel cyclops shirt I have is insane. You know the quality on it is really good, it’s really thick cotton. The one I bought was the only one on the internet from my understanding.
How important is fashion in school these days? Is everyone more fashionable because it’s L.A.? When I was in high school, I was wearing Airwalks, looking at skate/basketball catalogs, shopping at Hollister. I didn’t know anything.
People at my school dress mostly what people call “hesh” in the valley, so it’s basically like Dickies and beat shoes and they tuck their t-shirts in their pants. None of those street brands are cool to them. They think it’s all for poser people. Whereas on the opposite end, at private school, I remember I went to an event and every single guy was wearing Supreme. I definitely think that everyone cares about fashion, it’s just that people have different interpretations of it.
Is there anything else we didn’t cover, that you think people should know?
Not really, I did want to know what brands you’re into…
Larry: I don’t dabble as much into street fashion at this point. I’m old. I have some 2013 Off-White shoes I like.
I like John Elliot, Ovadia & Sons. I love Buck Mason stuff just for more basic, casual items.
Leon: So more like GQ Style. I definitely pick up a lot of inspiration from GQ. Not only what you wear but also you know how to take care of yourself and hair and grooming stuff. I like GQ a lot. That’s another great website people need to regular check out.
Larry: When I was in high school, it wasn’t quite as popular in the street as Supreme, but people definitely looked to skate brands for inspiration, we looked at skate catalogs, World Industries and Spitfire were hot.
Leon: Yeah skating, at least in L.A., the skate culture influences how everyone dresses at this point. Most people wear Vans. A lot of people in L.A. wear wider jeans, Dickies, Supreme. I know Off-White wanted to make a skating shoe. ASAP Rocky’s new shoe with Under Armor is based on a skating shoe, the Osiris D3.
Skating is everything at this point for fashion. Most of the inspiration is drawn from skaters.
If someone wanted to get into the street fashion game, where should they start? What should they buy first?
Definitely jeans is what I would say you buy first. Save up some money, go to Uniqlo and buy some jeans, some basic shirts and then some all white sneakers like AF1’s or Stan Smith’s. Then go on YouTube and find someone you like and then build on that. Find a channel you like. Find a rapper you like. See what they wear and then kinda mix it with your style.