When it comes to cult fashion trends, Californian rapper Tyler, the Creator is consistently ahead of the curve. His early adoption of iconic streetwear brand Supreme in his 2011 ‘Yonkers’ music video at the very beginning of its astronomic rise to cult-status proved his ability to tap into the cultural moment. More recently, Tyler has anticipated this season’s obsession with sweater vests and quirky knits. Embodying whimsical, androgynous and always effortless style, his impact on fashion has never been more exciting to watch.

Unusually in the music industry, Tyler has never had a stylist. While many musician-designer collaborations can come across as nothing more than glorified merchandise for a quick cash grab from stars who lack a coherent style (looking at you, Taylor Swift and Stella McCartney), Tyler’s personal style has always been inseparable from his image as an artist. His clothing brand Golf Wang, established back in 2011, has evolved with him, always serving as an authentic reflection of his current image. Tyler now almost exclusively appears in clothing from his brand - as he puts it: ’I just make what I want to wear’. As Tyler embraced a softer aesthetic with his 2017 album Flower Boy, his brand moved with him, showcasing a new focus on pastel colours and prints, while staying true to his roots in streetwear.

“Tyler’s use of fashion to evoke character is a welcome playful invitation that can inspire us to dress as if we were in a different world to our own”

More recently, Tyler has perfected an updated, down-to-earth take on the preppy look. Consisting of sweater vests, cardigans, polo shirts and calf-length socks, often paired with a bucket hat or baseball cap and his Golf le Fleur collaborations with Converse making an appearance, the effect is always effortless and satisfying. Preppy style has its origins in school uniforms and relies on simple staples, meaning the style is not only accessible and imitable but has a timeless quality, reflecting the industry’s current sustainable movement promoting vintage pieces and opting for buying fewer, but quality basics.

But Tyler is not just reflecting the current mood for fashion in spirit - his love for colourful, statement knits has never been more mainstream. The bold, landscape-inspired sweater vests and cardigans from his Golf Wang FW/18 collection are a direct precursor to the landscape cardigans from London indie brand House of Sunny which exploded on Instagram and TikTok this summer. They epitomise this season’s taste for cosy and whimsical pieces. His mixing of soft and masculine, preppy and streetwear speaks to a generation eager to push traditional gender boundaries and aesthetic definitions.


Tyler has indicated an even more obvious shift towards androgyny in his personal style with his most recent album IGOR. When he performs as alter-ego Igor, Tyler sports a blunt blonde wig and pastel coloured suits. Significantly, IGOR is an experiment with gender, but also with the idea of expressing character through fashion. Tyler brilliantly takes advantage of bold, distinctive clothing associations with the world of fiction, drawing on the imagery of cartoons and superheroes to not only make Igor instantly recognisable, but also to create the sense of him inhabiting a different world.


Mountain View

What would Buffy wear?

There is a thematic continuity between his performance outfit as Igor at the 2020 Grammys and his red carpet look from the same event - my personal favourite Tyler look. Dressed in a pastel pink bellhop outfit complete with a red hat, white gloves and even a suitcase, Tyler drew instant comparisons to Wes Anderson’s highly stylised 2014 film ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. The outlandish choice of red carpet attire is a highly conceptual look that would not have been out of place at the 2019 Met Gala based around the theme of ‘camp’ (in fact, it echoes Tyler’s close friend and fellow Odd Future alum Frank Ocean’s valet look from that very event). However, it also illustrates the pure fun and escapism of fashion, found in the interaction between fashion and fiction. If the endless TikTok videos on my ‘for you’ page, imagining what their creator would wear in fictional universes ranging from Harry Potter to Gossip Girl are anything to go by, fashion is being used as an escapist antidote to the grim realities of the pandemic. Tyler’s use of fashion to evoke character is a welcome playful invitation that can inspire us to dress as if we were in a different world to our own.


Tyler is the style icon we all need right now. Oozing with individuality, demonstrating the possibility of combining traditionally opposite aesthetics, and above all embracing the fun, whimsical potentials of clothing, Tyler’s approach to fashion is a breath of joyful fresh air.