The sweater vest is one of the hardest items for an average person to pull off. For the longest time, the sleeveless knit was associated with gaudy golf style, stereotypical nerds, and characters like Steve Urkel (though more often that not, he technically wore a cardigan).
In pop culture, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is probably one of the garment’s most memorable appearances, where Matthew Broderick’s school-skipping main character parades around Chicago in what’s commonly referred to as a leopard print vest. And from a distance (or grainy VHS viewing) it could be easy to interpret the pattern as such, but the original version actually turns out to be some ‘80s geometric print instead.
But that hasn’t decreased the mythology around the leopard sweater vest, which has been interpreted by everyone from Supreme to Noah to COMME des GARÇONS. In fact, a leopard print CDG vest became a focal point of A$AP Nast and Tyler, The Creator’s semi-serious fashion beef.
Originally released in the Japanese label’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection, CDG’s take on the leopard print vest is not only something Nast and Tyler both copped for themselves, but went onto serve as an influence for a similar v-neck sweater vest released by Tyler’s GOLF label down the line.
Tyler and Nast’s natty sense of style is a blend of ivy league-inspired staples and casual elegance infused with a bit of streetwear attitude. Essentially they both take what one could typify as “grandpa style” but inject enough of themselves into the clothing that it doesn’t even become “accidentally cool,” but straight-up cool.
“We don’t have an actual beef. We aren’t beefing for real guys. It’s all good,” clarified Nast in a recent livestream where he also took some time to congratulate Tyler, The Creator on the release of Call Me If You Get Lost. And really, if anyone’s trying to have a conversation about which rapper made the sweater vest a covetable style item, we’re gonna have to go back a little further in time.
Back in 2007, Entourage aired its eleventh episode in its fourth season, “No Cannes Do.” The HBO series set the stage for future programs like How to Make It In America, dealing with the exploits of hotshot young actor Vinny Chase (played by Adrian Grenier) and his titular crew, which included classic characters like Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold and Jerry Ferrara’s Turtle, the hanger-on/weed holder of the squad who also gave sneakerheads some early media representation when he made Fukijama AF1s a thing.
The plot of this particular episode revolves around the boys trying to make their way to the Cannes Film Festival, where there will be a premiere of Vincent Chase’s star turn as Pablo Escobar in the fictional film Medellín. Of course this was also years before Narcos (and a good Aquaman film), so in many ways Entourage predicted a lot of pop culture long before it happened.
But back to sweater vests…after spending the majority of the episode trying to hitch a ride to France, in comes Kanye West and his entourage within the last few minutes of the show, a yeezy ex machina if you will, and it doesn’t take much convincing to get him to switch up his plans from a London stopover to flying both squads to Cannes. Literally what happens is West asks the now iconic line: “Who we know in Cannes?” and then a red Gucci T-shirt clad Don C. replies with: “Everybody!”
But what steals the moment is Kanye West’s colorblock sweater vest, which it turns out is also an archival COMME des GARÇONS piece. It seems CDG is no stranger to mixed media takes on knitwear, and Rei Kawakubo’s label has released several iterations of them throughout the years.
The one worn in the show is from the early 2000s, and you can find many from the Spring/Summer 2000 collection that have a very similar vibe. While the way Tyler, The Creator and A$AP Nast wear the preppy piece shows how modern styles and tastes have progressed, Kanye West’s Entourage cameo remains a goat moment that truly reinforces how much he remains the nucleus of culture.