In 2019, I visited Highsnobiety’s New York headquarters on Wall Street. I remember A$AP Ferg walking in one afternoon with MadeinTYO to record our ON THE RECORD podcast. We talked about new music, mentorship by Dapper Dan, and Virgil Abloh.
We mostly spoke about fashion, one of Ferg’s earliest loves. His father Darold owned a Harlem boutique that printed shirts and logos for record labels like Bad Boy Records. Ferg took that knack for style and channeled that energy into his own jewelry line followed by the launch of Devoni, a premium line of belts and bracelets slash anything Ferg wants the brand to expand into in the future.
“I discovered these Indian guys that made Donna Karen’s and Ralph Lauren’s belts. I went to 5,001 Flavors to get my samples made. They used to make all the custom outfits from Biggie, and they made my first samples for free. But it wasn’t the right leather,” Ferg told me at the time. “So I went to Global Leathers, downtown in the Fashion District. They were schooling me, I learned by trial and error. I was talking to people in the streets asking questions and people were giving me loopholes.”
Through plugs with celebrities like Puffy, Swizz Beatz and Ludacris, as well as an influential roster for close friends, Devoni made waves quickly. The mainstream, however, never saw the final product.
“I look at Ye and he did exactly what I’m going to do. Because he figured it out. Like he had Pastelle and my Pastelle was like Trap Lord. Ye did a couple Pastell samples, teased everybody but that wasn’t quite it. I’m revisiting Devoni, which is my childhood dream brand to create and that’s what he did with Yeezy. He created his dream brand. So, when y’all see Devoni[…] that’s the new wave of Ferg,” the rapper told me back then. Devoni’s relaunch would come when the time was right and the right people to partner with were found.
That day has come. Launching globally online this Friday, November 12 on DEVONI.COM, and exclusively at London’s Machine A the following day, Devoni enters our world at last.
"A$Ap Ferg is one of the biggest cultural phenomenons of our recent times. His artistic approach is such that when we got this opportunity to present Devoni, I knew this would be such a unique moment for our audience," says Stavros Karelis, founder and buying director at Machine A. "Our customer is looking for these specialty brands that are confident enough to present one item. But doing it extremely well. Is an audience that approaches fashion as collecting art objects."
“I’ve always wanted to get back into creating my belts, but it felt like a far away dream with me being pulled in so many directions with my music career,” Ferg tells me two years since we last spoke. “During the quarantine I had a lot of time to reflect and create art [and] one of the things I said that I wouldn’t take advantage of was time. I begin to move urgently with my ideas. I made a promise to myself that once I was out of quarantine, I was going to build Devoni once and for all.”
“A masterpiece for your waist,” Ferg calls his lifestyle brand of which the name derives from the word Devonian: a historic period in time known for massive advancements in evolution, diversity and growth. The brand will start as a line of belts crafted in premium Italian leathers as well as vegan leathers, and carry 18k gold influenced and polished nickel buckles as seen modelled in the brand’s debut campaign on Ferg’s partner and photographer Renell Medrano.
All will be made in New York in the same facilities that started off the brand 15 years ago. In true Ferg spirit, a portion of the proceeds from all Devoni sales will go directly to charitable organizations in his hometown, Harlem, New York.
“There's been so many full circle moments in re-launching Devoni. Some people knew me as a designer and artist first. So it’s cool to reconnect with the people that loved the brand before I had a major platform from making music,” he says. “I’m excited about this chapter in my life because now people will get another dimension of my creativity. It really shows me not to let up on my dreams no matter how long it takes. I can’t wait to share all of these forever evolving ideas and concepts with the world.”