If there was one item of clothing that truly connects us as a culture it’s denim and t-shirts. A daily duo of style essentials worn by every strata of society at one point or another. And when you think of the classics, Calvin Klein is the one brand that comes to mind.

Over the past few campaigns, the Americana casual label par excellence Calvin Klein has been slowly building a portfolio of collaborations and alliances with some of the most promising artists and talents. It’s a cross-generational concept that ties together the groundbreaking simplicity of their most iconic silhouettes with the artistic vision of a new generation of creatives.

One of the most recent additions to the CK family is artist and musician Vince Staples. ICON sat down with the 28-year-old Compton-native to discuss what a collaboration like this means to him, and what the creative process of his own work.

Vince Staples joins the CK family. Image: Calvin Klein.

ICON: When Calvin Klein approached you to be part of their campaign, what made you say yes?

Vince Staples: I have been lucky to be tapped by Melina Matsoukas for a few different projects she’s worked on, and I was excited to hear about her collaboration with Calvin Klein so of course I said yes. I’ve always been a fan of the brand, so it was a natural collaboration.

ICON: With so many new brands always on the horizon, why do you think people still gravitate towards a brand like Calvin Klein?

VS: Calvin Klein as a brand is democratic. They have so many things at so many price points for so many body types and it really feels like a brand where everyone is welcome.

ICON: When you create music, where do you look for inspiration?

VS: I draw inspiration for my music and all of my work from my own life experiences – and that changes in different chapters of my life, like it does for everyone. I’m more of a writer type person than I am a musician, so I’m inspired by listening to podcasts and my own life experiences – which changes in different chapters of my life, like it does for everyone. As crazy as it sounds, I don’t really listen to music that much. 

ICON: Music isn’t your only medium – there’s also voice work, you’ve created a graphic novel, acting. How do you define your body of work?

VS: I’m just creating. We shouldn’t put boundaries on self-expression. You can do anything that you aspire to. I’m just creating. I feel like when you are looking into something creative, you’re looking for a break in your reality. You can do anything you aspire to. We shouldn’t put boundaries on self-expression. I would be holding myself back if I only used music to express my creativity. 

Vince Staples. Image: Calvin Klein.

ICON: Your most recent album has been described as your most personal and even at times confronting, one yet. What brought you to a place where you felt safe enough to release that?

VS: All music is personal. No matter what the subject matter is going on and sharing your thoughts is always a personal thing. We all have thoughts that we share and thoughts that we don’t. I’m just lucky enough to get paid from it. 

ICON: What can we expect from the next album?

VS: You’ll have to listen and see. It’s my best yet.