January 19th, 2016
I met Zach Schwartz in his apartment in Harlem, which has primary color painted walls and an array of his equally colorful sneakers lined up as you walk in. With artist management, an app, and Vice and Playboy bylines on his resume, you’ve probably heard Zach’s name on campus. He talked to me about how being half asian, having an early interest in fashion, and how hip hop paved the way for his personal style.
LDB: What sort of clothes do you like to wear?
ZS: I think clothes are really connected to creativity, how I’m working and how I’m feeling. Recently I’ve worn stuff and I didn’t like it; I walked out and I was wearing a button up and I was just like “nah” and then came back and put on something else. I like to wear all-black. These pants I’m wearing are called “young billionaire” pants–they’re black cotton, by American Apparel. I can wear these when I’m doing visual arts stuff, which is what I study in school, or I can wear these when I’m writing I can wear these with any outfit…so I’ll be wearing them and I’ll be feeling like a young billionaire.
I used to do this thing where I wore two jerseys at the same time. I also wear a lot of stuff people give to me because I write. There have been people who will just give me clothes to wear for articles and I also have friends in fashion who send me clothes to wear.
LDB: You also do music management, does that influence your style at all?
ZS: Yeah, hip hop – that’s part of my style. I once described my look, jokingly, as “basketball youth.” Recently, I’ve been going through some identity stuff and looking at how to perceive myself. But it’s funny because in high school, being into writing, I’d wear button downs and American Apparel sweaters. One day I wore that though, and it just didn’t feel like me anymore. Now, I feel like all I need is to just put on clothing that is slightly larger than average and black and white: comfortable pants, big sneakers, etc. I’m influenced by skate style as I was a skateboarder in middle school and high school — especially in terms of shoes. That’s how I got into stuff. I used to just wear a bright blue shirt with bright blue shoes an black jeans, and I would just like skate around. That is what really made me interested in fashion and then soon after, I tried to advance from there.
LDB: Did you look up to anyone in particular for that? Did your friends influence your style?
ZS: Yeah I would just look at my friends at the skate park – that was the first style that I liked: the shoes that are a crazy color with a shirt that matches them, and then black jeans. That was the kids at the skate park, that was fresh. That was where everyone hung out in my town, that were on the same wave.
LDB: Do you read about fashion?
ZS: Yeah, but I go through phases with it. When I was in high school, in the 10th grade, I was on Kith and was into Ronnie Fieg and these designers I only heard about again 6 years later. I remember getting a Ronnie Fieg hat and trying to get the Rose Gold Asics. I would read High Snobiety and Hypebeast – things that became very popular, but this was years ago. Then I stopped. But I mean a few years ago I went through a phase where I was on tumblr everyday looking at fashion blogs. I goes through phases — sometimes I get to a point where I feel like my style game is lacking or I need something so I’ll start looking outside for new clothes. Honestly I don’t even buy that much stuff anymore, most of my stuff is gifts or perks or friends’ stuff.
LDB: Who do you think is just consistently well dressed?
ZS: Bari. A$AP Bari. I don’t know. I was influenced by skater styles. Jerry Hsu was this Taiwanese skateboarder, and I’m Taiwanese, so I really looked up to him and his style. It was a stepping stone to mine. I wouldn’t say I look at anyone right now and think they are super fly in a way that I would look up to. I don’t even want to do that.
LDB: Do you feel like you’re creating a personality of yourself with your clothes?
ZS: Sometimes I’ll wear this face mask, that makes me look like the guy from “Assassin’s Creed.” I’ll pass by people who know me and they won’t recognize me. So I’ll jokingly think I’m more stealthy or something. But I think my clothes reflect my personality.
LDB: Has your style ever gotten you anywhere, or been noticed by people in the industry?
ZS: I think that happens with my shoes. When I interned for Genius, I met Hailey Baldwin and she told me she liked my Keith Haring Reeboks. Or when I wear the digital Jeremy Scotts or my original ‘96 LA Gear light up sneakers. I get comments on those.
LDB: Has visual art been informative for your aesthetic tendencies in fashion?
ZS: For sure, even writing in a weird way. The way you would dress yourself is like the way you would take a photograph or the way you would write a paragraph, it’s all very similar. Especially with someone’s personality, you can tell when it’s all consistent.
Story by Luna de Buretel.
Photos by Spencer Cohen.