Skepta: Behind The Artist
21 Oct 2022
Over the years we have seen an increase in big-name rappers taking a keen interest in the fashion world and expanding their brands. With fashion having a massive influence on rap, it is easy to see how these two categories complement each other as time goes by. We have seen artists try and succeed, notably with legendary rapper and producer Kanye West initially collaborating with Nike, then followed that up with this masterful move to join Adidas, creating the acclaimed trainers – the Yeezy collection.
In the UK we have often wondered which artist from England can have a major impact on the fashion world and become an icon within the rapidly changing industry. That’s where Skepta comes in. The North London star has really taken fashion by the scruff of the neck and has put London on the map with his own style. From tracksuits to suits, Skepta does it all and looks good doing it. Let’s dive into the art behind the artist and see how this UK rap legend has shown how he has become the leading light for rap, fashion, and art in England and worldwide.
Skepta has always had a keen eye for fashion and this was seen by the creation of his own clothing line branded Mains in 2017. Described as a premium contemporary unisex brand, the collection includes full tracksuits, t-shirts, caps, bags, and underwear which were sold exclusively on the Mains website and in Selfridges. The launch of this clothing line in 2017 was deemed as a success, selling out shortly after the drop. Successful pop-ups took place in Tokyo, giving the brand more exposure across the globe. Mains was brought into the fashion limelight in 2018 with the GQ photoshoot with both Skepta and supermodel Naomi Campbell modelling the underwear range – sending the fashion industry and social media into a frenzy.
Skepta has further improved his brand by branching out into the rum industry with his successful partnership with Havana Club. The two powerhouses initially collaborated in 2020 when Skepta first visited Cuba. An artist that is true to his Nigerian heritage, he ensured that the collaboration with the Cuban-infused rum included elements of his Yoruba heritage. This was seen with the redesign of the Havana Club 7 Rum bottles which featured traditional Nigerian symbols. Skepta’s wanted to capture the essence of elegance, achievement, and luxury within this collaboration with the infusion of symbolic emblems of growth. This collaboration worked so well that the two decided to come together again in 2021 to create the next chapter of their fusion with a limited-edition rum. Titled as Skepta 2.0, this second edition was inspired by Skepta’s chieftaincy and his own journey that paved his way to greatness. “It celebrates inner strength and the journeys that make us great.”
“I said when you’re looking at Skepta, you’re looking at sexy in the flesh” bars from Skepta’s “Tour Bus Massacre.” The rapper has never been shy of confidence and has shown this in his bars and the way he brands himself. This is evident in his career moves as he was announced as the new face of the men’s aftershave Diesel Sound Of the Brave campaign in 2021. At this point, Skepta’s’ influence is monumental – crafting his way into the perfume industry. Featuring on GQ, Skepta stated that he always wanted to do a fragrance, but he wanted to wait for the right opportunity and this one came at the right time. The fragrance has been described as aromatic bison grass accord and lavender essence, seen as a harmonious combination of fragrances that fit each other perfectly. Another example of Skepta really paying attention to detail in anything he puts his hands on. Along with his music, he creates classics no matter what the project is.
Paris and Milan fashion shows are not new arenas to Skepta, as he has been attending these fashion shows over the last few years. Turning up in a diverse array of fits that catch everyone’s attention. From turning up in a tracksuit to wearing more elegant pieces created by great designers such as Virgil Abloh (RIP), Bottega Vanetta, Prada, Dior, and more. His huge presence at global Fashion Weeks have been an iconic moment for the rapper. Pushing forward the UK rap culture’s presence within the fashion industry. He recently appeared in London for Burberry’s SS23 show sporting black leather dungarees, a short-sleeved black tee, and blacked-out trainers. A simple yet elegant look for the rapper who was spotted rubbing shoulders with rap king and style icon Kanye West. His more elegant look for Bottega Veneta is a big signal towards the elegance that Skepta strives for within his fashion catalogue. Working with Daniel Lee a prestigious fashion designer and creative director for Bottega Veneta from 2018 to 2021. We can see how seriously Skepta takes the fashion industry – only working with the best of the best.
The Boy Better Know rapper announced a partnership with his company Big Smoke Corporations and the mega sportswear brand Puma. The first brand partnership through his company, which ultimately staples himself as a huge name within the fashion industry as a creative. The rapper will become Pumas Global Ambassador where he will overlook campaigns and product designs. Giving him full creative control over the trainers and future sportswear that his brand will produce. “For me, it’s about bringing the tracksuit mafia energy that we had when we did Shut Down” Skepta tells HypeBeast in an interview about his PUMA partnership. Skepta remains deeply rooted in bringing opportunities to others along with himself and has thanked PUMA for this opportunity as it has helped him create more opportunities in his homeland Nigeria. It will be exciting to see what Skepta does with Puma in the months to come!
Skepta took the meaning of artist to another level when he announced in September that a piece of art he created was going to be placed up for auction at Sothebys Contemporary Curated art event. The MamaGoesToMarket artistic piece showed a different side to the hard-edged grime mc we love. Paying homage to his Nigerian routes, the rapper shows his creative mind through the close details of the clothing within the art that he designed himself. Skepta enlisted the help of graphic artist Chito who decorated the painting with distinctive lines of graffiti which Skepta then went over with stencil and spray paint. Ultimately giving the painting the grit that Skepta likes to input into his music and fashion. The painting was sold on auction for £81,000 – showing the value of the art the rapper produced. A true multi-faceted icon, it is always pleasantly surprising to see what Skepta comes up with next. An artist that really appreciates the meaning behind branding, versatility, and creating a lane for himself where he can thrive beyond all odds.
Words by Micah Roberts