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What started as a joke between Aries McDonald (aka “Naked”) and his friends turned into a way of dressing that spawned a fast-growing community of like-minded kids on social media. Naked’s highly controversial looks that incorporate designer brands and dumpster diving treasures, have quickly set the fashion world on its head.
Gearing up for the launch of his fashion label WOKE, I met up with Naked and his crew at their Detroit studio last month to talk about his career decisions such as turning down opportunities to work with such fashion heavyweights as Gosha Rubchinskiy and Vetements, and find out what WOKE is going to do to the fashion industry.
I get a ‘Lost Boys’ vibe as I arrive at the rusty gates to their studio. As I’m walking up the driveway, I spot a kid on the roof flying a drone. Moments later, I’m ushered through a cellar by Kaizer Don, Naked’s assistant, who I’ve been in contact with to set up the interview. Next thing I know, I’m crawling down a tunnel and stepping out into loud, echoing Detroit techno music that’s blasting through a cavernous room. The air’s dewy with that rotten egg smell and I’m standing in the Naked’s creative space, in all its grimy glory.
On my immediate right, sitting on a broken rocking chair, is a kid with two bucket hats on his head, furiously knitting a Russian flag scarf. The dude next to him is sewing a corset out of banana peels. For a low budget studio, this place is packed with expensive-looking people. Naked’s standing at a cutting table in the middle of the room, holding an old fishing net up to the light. He spots me, drops the net and does 15 pushups by the time it takes me to get to the table.
Sinz Bal: Hey Naked, I’m good! What’s going on?
N: Nothing, we’re just getting ready to shoot our anti-capitalist, anti-propaganda lookbook on overfishing for WOKE.
S: That’s interesting, I mean people mostly know you as a highly influential fashion kid on social media. I even read that John Galliano called you the voice of a generation. What prompted you to go it alone and start this label?
S: Does the ghost inspire you?
N: Nah, he makes me real paranoid. I can’t smoke pot anymore cause the dude’ll start chatting me up. He tries to give me business advice, and I’m like, I don’t want to sacrifice baby goats! He’s got some mad views on what WOKE should look like too.
S: That sounds tough, we all have our demons I guess. Do you have anything you do to get inspired?
N: Honestly, I’m insanely illiterate, so the internet doesn’t help me. Words are the devil and they divide us, John Lennon said that. So ya, I dumpster dive and get my inspiration from things people throw away.
S: Plus, it doesn’t hurt that you’re the nephew of Martin Margiela?
N: Ya, growing up I was really privileged to be surrounded by so much dope ass shit. As a baby I used to crawl around on Martin’s old patterns and one time I pooped on a pile of leather pants in his archives. Looking back, I guess that’s what makes me so comfortable dumpster diving.
N: I just don’t feel like we’ve got any more time to fuck around. Woke is my straight-up answer to all the shit that’s going on in the world. It started back in November, when I couldn’t sleep for like 2 weeks straight—Kanye told me he was going through the same thing. Shit’s just getting too real! This is our first lookbook and it’s gonna be a wake-up call to all these complacent-ass rich bitches who think they can keep wearing their ostrich feather butt-plugs and not do anything about what’s going on in the world!
S: You seem so grounded now though.
N: That’s ’cause I met this Cherokee Chief down in Atlanta and he told me my spirit’s got a ghost sucking on it. So that was a relief. Like, I know I’m not crazy now, it’s the ghost.
S: Your personal manifesto replaced Page 6 in the New York Times last month. How has that changed things for you?
N: Well, Martin was really stoked and I had to turn down a role in the latest Tarantino movie, but really this all part of the plan to make WOKE a success.
S: Nice, so do you consider yourself an activist first and foremost then?
N: Totally. Like, right now, we have a flag-knitting seminar for countries we wish were doing better. I’m doing Senegal. One of my friends is doing Russia ’cause he wishes he was born there. I told him to do USSR, but he doesn’t know what that is, so whatever. It’s all about getting involved with real issues that makes me feel like we’re activists and our ultimate goal is to solve world peace.
S: Wow, nobody’s been able to make a dent in that yet, how do you plan on solving world peace?
N: Well, just rep it really hard! We’ve got these shorts on Korea: one leg’s North, the other’s South. It’s really dope. People are gonna buy them to show their activism. Kanye and Martin already got their pairs.
S: You think people wearing stuff is going to impact global politics?
N: All I can say, is that the revolution is sending the right message at the right time with the right caption that’ll trigger the events that’ll change the world!
S: Profound stuff. Naked, thanks so much for talking to me today! I hope WOKE blows up.
* If you haven’t guessed already, ARIES McDONALD is a fictional character made up by SINZ BAL. This is not based on a single individual. We are not responsible if there are any resemblances to a real person.