The relationship between the fashion industry and hip-hop music has never existed as prolifically as it does today. Rappers’ obsession with fame, glamour and materialism has been gloated about in their songs for years, and while they’ve always been a source of inspiration for designers and style-conscious consumers, their role as tastemakers remains unconquered.

Now that the realms of streetwear, a subset of style that bears strong ties with the genre, and high fashion have (more or less) officially merged, the trend climate is perpetually swayed by fashionable emcees and their ever-dynamic sartorial appetite.

When you think of prominent rapper style icons in modern culture, what names spring to mind? I bet your bottom dollar that Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, Pharrell Williams or Young Thug were some of the first that popped up (feel free to state otherwise in the comments section if I’m wrong).

These guys are often placed in the “best dressed” category because they’ve, in some capacity, earned high levels of respect from both the rap and fashion communities, whether it’s through the success of their own labels, the way they’ve ushered in alternative ways of dress to mainstream audiences or how their effortless “cool” factor and seasoned tastes have permitted lauded style versatility and influence.

Travis Scott

But what about Travis Scott? I’m sure his name swirled around your noggin too, but is La Flame a bonafide style icon? Well, he’s certainly no foreign object to the fashion world – in fact, he’s tapped into more projects in the industry than most of his contemporary hip-hop counterparts. Yet his bombastic clothing choices make him a polarizing figure where style is concerned, leading many to argue whether he’s a brand connoisseur with outré taste or just a top name on a celebrity seeding list who will wear whatever freebie hype gear comes his way.

Before we reach an answer to this debate, let’s first examine all of Scott’s fashion exploits. In 2013, as you may or may not recall, a baby-faced La Flame was the cover star of Highsnob’s seventh print issue, which resulted as a partnership with SUPRA. That same year, the rapper also landed a deal with Reebok Classics as the brand’s ambassador to coincide with its 30th anniversary.

Travis Scott

Buzzy retailer RSVP Gallery sought out the Houston native in 2014 to star in their in-house editorial for Raf Simons’ FW14 collection, while 2015 resulted in both a photoshoot with Rihanna for her mega-popular Fenty x PUMA Creeper kicks and the launch of his debut line of uber-trendy “Rodeo” tour merch, which sold out in a matter of minutes.

The year 2016 saw a bevy of fashion endorsements from La Flame. He released a mini collection with Diamond Supply Co., was one of several “It” celebrities to star in Alexander Wang’s SS17 campaign, teamed up with London-based label maharishi for a limited edition capsule line, landed a campaign with NikeLab for its collaboration with Riccardo Tisci, joined forces with BAPE for a T-shirt drop, was shot by Saint Laurent for its SS17 campaign film, starred on the cover of fashion magazines PAPER and Oyster and hosted a series a pop-up shops to sell a new range of tour merch.

Now only a month into 2017, and Travis Scott’s involvement with the fashion industry already seems to be off to a lucrative start. Just a few weeks ago at Paris Fashion Week, the rapper sat front row at Louis Vuitton’s FW17 show, where he was one of the only celebs spotted in head-to-toe wares from the French house’s ridiculously-hyped collaboration with Supreme. A partnered collection with Helmut Lang also appears to be in the works for Scott, who teased the project via his Instagram just a few days ago.

It’s evident that the rapper is a veteran when it comes to fashion-related projects; brands and magazines clearly seem to appreciate his aesthetic enough to book him for campaigns, cover shoots and capsule collections. But does all of this mean that he’s groomed to be rap’s next fashion king? While I can’t speak for everyone (many of my colleagues think Scott dresses terribly actually), I personally think that Scott’s look is a vibe.

Travis Scott

No, he doesn’t have Kanye’s luxe-lounge swag, Rocky’s pretty boy charm, Pharrell’s dapper quirkiness or Thugger’s gender fluidity, but he still knows how to work a room. Whether its being showered in enough gold to tap out a California Gold Rush, strutting in denim that looks like it’s made a few trips around a blender or being draped in billowing tees emblazoned with loud graphics and logos, Travis Scott is unapologetically bold about his sartorial pickings and you have to give the guy credit for not giving AF about it (even though few rappers do).

He also manages to rock the most coveted pieces by every flavor-of-the-month brand in the business before anyone else – case and point Supreme x LV – which some would dub as being a glorified hypebeast (we’re not refuting that by the way), but La Flame’s style zeitgeist awareness (or impressive clothing plugs) make him #relevant in a society where virtual hearts, social media followers and hashtag influence are potent factors in maintaining steady popularity in the industry, for better or worse.

Find out why A$AP Rocky’s Dior Homme “Mosh Pit” print is going to be huge next season. 

Words by Nico Amarca
Fashion Editor, North America
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