Inside A$AP Rocky’s American Sabotage Fashion Week Show


We’ve all seen the video by now — Rihanna’s dancing in a hotel room, singing along with GloRilla’s “TGIF” to a confused-looking A$AP Rocky. “Where my drink at?” is Rocky’s response (his comedic timing is everything — Can he do it all?) “I’m too old for this sh*t.” We probably all resonate with the comments like: “This the closest we going to get to an album,” or “good enough. Put this on Spotify.”

Well, in that video, you might have missed one detail: they’re both wearing American Sabotage. Rihanna’s t-shirt, the camo jacket she’s carrying, the deconstructed suit A$AP’s wearing — they’re all designed by Rocky. The video has been watched over 165 Million times and has over 10.3 Million likes. Talk about free advertising for your brand on the back of its headline-grabbing runway debut.

So while I’m not holding out much hope that Rihanna will in fact make this her return to music, I’m still intrigued by the next cultural contribution from America’s first fashion family. Here’s everything you need to know about American Sabotage and why it’s more than just another celebrity brand. It’s a reflection of Rocky’s own fashion roots and Black culture in general, playing out on the world fashion stage.

A$AP Rocky’s fashion legacy

In 2013, A$AP Rocky released the song “
Fashion Killa” as a single for the album Long.Live.A$AP. The song is certified Platinum and its sentiment is certified true: A$AP Rocky really is a fashion killer. From headline-grabbing street style to luxury partnerships and his signature braids — cornrows are to Pretty Flacko what that bob is to Anna Wintour — A$AP Rocky has what all the greats have: a distinctive personal style and astonishing taste. He’s not a trend-follower, he’s a trendsetter. And he’s Pretty Flacko, he knows he’ll look good in whatever he wears. While that could be an excuse to do the bare minimum, he takes pride in his appearance and takes as many risks in his fashion as he does as a producer. Clearly, it works out. People have been calling him the male Rihanna for years — no wonder he landed Rihanna herself. When it comes to fashion, they match each other’s freak.

So it’s no surprise that A$AP Rocky — just like Rihanna — has launched a luxury fashion brand. It feels so overdue that I can’t help but wonder if Rihanna is the one who told him to lock in. It’s been years since we got a full Rocky album — he and RiRi also match each other’s freak in keeping fans waiting. He’s been working on ventures like his alcohol label and brand partnerships. But he’s a father and the cost of childcare is high! Rihanna may be a billionaire but these prices aren’t a joke. My bet it that Ms. Fenty told her man to clock into the locked-in factory and even gave him advice on how to start a brand.

After all, she launched her own luxury brand alongside LVMH and her marketing for Savage Fenty is responsible for its reign over Victoria’s Secret. And don’t even get me started on Fenty Beauty and Fentry Skin. When it comes to D2C e-commerce, Rihanna has done
more than enough. She’s changed the game for inclusivity, diversity, and creativity. Now, with American Sabotage, it looks like A$AP Rocky aims to do the same.

What is American Sabotage, aka A$AP Rocky X American Sabotage by AWGE?

Rocky’s been teasing American Sabotage for a while. An extension of his creative agency,
AWGE (if you’ve listened to his music, you’ve heard the intro “it’s AWGE sh*t” blast through your speakers). American Sabotage seemed, at first, like it might just be a merch collection. Some also speculated, or hoped, that it might even have something to do with his forthcoming album. But it seems it’s so much more.

Flacko first teased the collection on stage at Rolling Loud last year. He wore a bulletproof vest — a la BROCKHAMPTON — that read: “Don’t Be Dumb” — something I personally need to hear more often than I like to admit. Turns out, the phrase is more than a reminder to me, specifically. It’s one of the rumored titles of his forthcoming album.

To complete the look, he wore strategically sagged jeans, showing off a stack of layered plaid boxer shorts, a styling hack the LES fashion girlies have already picked up. And if you’re afraid of outfit-repeating, don’t be. Our very own Pretty Flacko wore the same outfit formula at Coachella 2024. The only difference: this time, his bulletproof vest was replaced with an American Saborage logo tees.

This stylish, slow reveal culminated in the brand’s first drop. What we first assumed to be merch turned out to be a preview of a brand way bigger than the “Don’t Be Dumb” tees — although those sold out immediately. Despite the price tag, the boxer-stacked jeans also sold out instantaneously, even though they run buyers $600.

But this wasn’t just a fashion statement, it was a political one. The collection was titled: “Stop the sag,” referencing respectability politics often weaponized against Black people. This is a notable difference from the resurgence of the “old money” style, which glorifies an exclusive aesthetic worn by an exclusive group. Instead, he’s celebrating the parts of Black culture that are often denigrated, while subverting fashion expectations. And despite the pervasiveness of so-called stealth wealth, people are responding.

Call it proof of concept, but the instant frenzy around the quiet drop set the stage for American Sabotage’s blazing debut. A$AP had proved that the people had an appetite for American sabotage — even before they understood its complexity. And now that we have the full picture, we can safely say that he’s coming to change the fashion game and bring back substance in style.

Inside the American Sabotage Runway debut

In 1973, American and French designers held a benefit show “battle” at the
Palace of Versailles for the crown of best designer. Over 50 years later, A$AP Rocky brought the best and worst of American culture back to Paris with the American Savage x AWGE Men’s Spring/Summer 2025 collection.

With design support from Joshua Jamal, Bede Marchand and Coucou Bebe, American Sabotage is partly Rocky’s own style blended with the collection’s ethos of “ghetto expressionism.” When it came to production, the elaborate set-up was a feast of multimedia details. Guests were treated to the sound of the upcoming A$AP album through the DJ booth, and posters plastered around the wall read “Every US citizen has agreed to be more than happy to be pissed off,” and “Pull up your pants, no one wants to see your underwear.”

The collection featured similar messages of what Rocky describes as “political satire” — one of the phrases emblazoned on his pieces. From NYPD shirts to camo and American Flag prints, the pieces played with American iconography in a way that was both playful and politically biting.

This political commentary isn’t to no end. As with so much of A$AP’s aesthetics — a rapper who has always blended high fashion with echoes of his origins like his cornrows and grills — the show is a message to the fashion elite: Black culture, which is American culture, is more influential, and more complicated than they like to admit.

How fashion and rap music are intrinsically tied together

American Sabotage is notably an expression of rap culture, which is an extension of Black culture. Just look at the Kendrick Lamar and Drake beef. It proved once and for all that being a rapper is about being embedded in the culture. And as a rapper raised in New York City, A$AP understands the culture.

We take the intersection of rap and fashion for granted these days. And, indeed, rappers and hip-hop culture have always been at the forefront of fashion. They popularized trends that Gen Z are obsessed with today: oversized clothing, oversized jewelry, sneaker culture, sweat suits, and jerseys — just to name a few. But until the early 2010s, rap music was still outside the mainstream.

Rocky was one of the rappers who made a career traversing genres, appearing on songs with Lana Del Rey (if you were on Tumblr in 2012, you remember) and making a name for himself in the mainstream — mostly using fashion.

These days, rappers grace the covers of
Vogue and are front row of the most fabulous fashion shows. For example, London-based rapper (and contender for song of the summer) Central Cee took the spot on the cover of British Vogue’s Music issue this month. For her debut issue, Editor-In-Chief Chioma Nnadi highlighted the connection between fashion and music, and the influence Black culture has on both art forms.

With American Sabotage, A$AP Rocky is making that connection tactile. Some of the most thrilling brands over the past decades have taken cues from hip-hop culture. Virgil Abloh’s Off-White brought hypebeast and streetwear fashion to the world stage, before embedding those influences into Louis Vuitton. Now, rapper Pharell is at the helm of Vuitton as its creative director. Rihanna herself has a fashion line with the biggest luxury fashion company in the world. Young rappers like Tyler, The Creator and Lil Nas X are known for their red-carpet looks. And even though Kanye West has since lost his deal with Adidas (and his mind), his impact on converging fashion and hip-hop cannot be overstated.

Even the best, most ferocious rappers are embedded in the fashion game. Kendrick Lamar is on a tear this summer — not just coming for Drake’s neck, but serving Pinterest-worthy looks while he does it. After rapping “I hate the way that you dress,” on his red-hot “Euphoria” track, he went on to prove that fashion is another way that he’s superior to the Canadian pop star. He wore a cropped The Row hoodie to his Pop Out show in LA, and wore Martine Rose and other fashion favorite brands in his “Not Like Us” video. Every rapper is a fashion girl at heart, it seems.

In a time where rap and fashion are so intertwined, it’s easy to take A$AP Rocky’s fashionista status for granted. But he’s not new to the fashion game, he’s
true to it. “I’m the godfather of what we now call art and fashion,” he told GQ. “Taking streetwear, taking luxury, blending them, mending them, matching them together. Taking skatewear, taking hoodwear brands and urban clothes and infusing them all together, that wasn’t really done.”

Because Rocky is so native to the fashion world, his designs for American Sabotage don’t feel derivative. They’re refreshing, they’re true to his personal style, and they’re reflective of his roots.

American Sabotage and Black Culture

I used to live in Harlem, right next to where A$AP Rocky grew up. I know this because in our local flower shop, bodega, and other neighborhood establishments, you can find framed photos of him shaking hands with the owners. I once stepped out and saw him filming his music video for “Praise The Lord” in my neighborhood (true story). This is to say, he reps the block and hasn’t forgotten where he came from. And that Harlem has influenced everything from his sound to his style.

Harlem is home to Dapper Dan, the progenitor of logomania. It was the site of the largest Black Cultural movements, the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement. And it’s an endless source of inspiration for Rocky.

GQ asked about his collection before of the Paris show, he linked it directly to the American social climate. “It’s just me trying to encapsulate just all of my experiences, everything that I’ve learned, everything I’ve experienced about the social issues and the social climate of America,” he said. “I think fashion is an expression. It’s to express how you feel. This is no different. I think each great creative director, designer, artists, they always have that fine balance between conceptualization and manifestation.”

By blending together his experience with high fashion and his original inspirations, he’s created something vibrant, political, and unique to the Fashion Killa himself.

A$AP Rocky is clocked in

Needless to say, Flacko is clocked in. Part of me thinks Rihanna must have told him to lock in — like I said, those childcare bills ain’t cheap. That’s why he seemed so stressed in that Paris hotel room video. He’s been putting in long days at the office. But the hard work paid off with the critically acclaimed and culturally significant debut.

But the successful launch of his brand doesn’t mean Rocky is swearing off other brands completely. He recently teamed up with iconic Black artist Carrie Mae Weems for Bottega Veneta’s Father’s Day campaign.

He also unveiled a recent campaign with Puma.

These days, Rocky’s like Ryan Reynolds with the income streams. We can only hope that the rest of us get to hear his album soon, even if we never hear Rihanna’s.

Originally Posted Here

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